The 25th Human Rights Council (HRC) session is starting next week and WILPF will be participating in this session for the next four weeks. Follow us in discussing with UN member States, UN agencies and other NGOs important human rights issues.

Topics such as drones and human rights, preventing sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or the participation of women in the political transitions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are all coming up in this session and WILPF will be taking part in those discussions very actively!

Why should I be interested?

The HRC is an opportunity for civil society to interact with States and UN agencies and reflect on how to promote human rights and address violations.

It is an important occasion not only to see what is on the international agenda, but also to note what is missing, so that we can direct our future work.

WILPF’s Participation

WILPF will be very active this session through the organisation of three panels:

As the adoption of Mexico’s UPR report is coming up, we will be partnering with International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Just Associates (JASS) and Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) in an event on Human Rights Defenders in Mexico. We will tackle issues such as feminicide and violence against women.

We will also analyse the participation of women in the many current constitutional processes in the MENA region, following the examples from Tunisia, Libya and Yemen. We will reflect on the lessons learned from the Yemeni national dialogue and the Constitution of Tunisia, which can be relevant for the upcoming Libyan national dialogue.

Lastly, we are co-organising an event on sexual violence in the DRC with World Young Women Christian Association (World YWCA) and Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), where we will focus on a preventive approach to sexual violence by considering its root causes. It will also be an opportunity to present our suggestions for recommendations for the UPR of DRC in April. WILPF DRC will be participating with the presence of the Vice-President Julienne Lusenge.

Important Highlights

A High Level Panel on Sexual Violence in DRC will take place on the 25th March where WILPF is looking forward to hearing States recognise the multiple factors behind sexual violence in DRC. This crime has today spread to the whole country and is perpetrated by civilians as well as the security forces and the armed groups. The uncontrolled flow of small arms, the prevalence of gender inequality and many other socio-economic factors have contributed to the spreading of this scourge. Have a look at our background paper for more details.

Sadly, member states have not given much attention to women’s rights this session. Only the Austrian mission announced an event on sexual harassment and violence faced by women journalists on 10th March.

A resolution on drones will be discussed this session as per Pakistan’s initiative following up on a General Assembly resolution of 2013. Amnesty International will also hold a side event on drone killings.  WILPF and our disarmament programme Reaching Critical Will (RCW) will engage and keep you updated on this important topic.

Last session we kept you informed about the resolution on conscientious objection in the military service. This session, the mission of Costa Rica will organise an event on this topic on which we’ll keep you posted.

It is still uncertain if there will be a resolution on family rights, this has raised the concerns of civil society. In the event of its submission, we will advocate that it acknowledges the many forms of families that exist, respecting the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) persons, unmarried couples and the members of many other non-nuclear families.

Also, this session of the HRC will give significant attention to economic and social rights, with several states submitting resolutions on the right to food, adequate housing, education and the environment.

Further, there will be a High-level panel discussion dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. When will feminicide be given the same consideration?

A new and improved Council?

Lastly, there will be a joint initiative on the rationalisation of the HRC’s work. The resolution aims at reducing redundancies between the UN office in Geneva and in New York, and argues for an alleviation of the workload in Geneva.

WILPF believes that while the efficiency of the HRC can be improved, UN bodies in Geneva and New York have different roles, compositions and approaches. Avoiding redundancy must not prevent the HRC to address issues that affect human rights, such as disarmament or conflict resolution. Likewise, WILPF’s programme Gender, Peace and Security, also known as PeaceWomen, makes sure the Security Council does not forget the implications on human rights of the women, peace and security agenda! Maybe more than a problem of workload, it is a problem that not enough means are allocated to ensuring human rights. After all, how can we reduce the workload of the HRC other than by reducing human rights violations?

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