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NHRI advocacy delivers tangible results on women’s rights

Graphic: Two women in Nepal hold a sign saying "Equal?"

A coalition of national human rights institutions recently concluded a five-year advocacy campaign at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.


The APF recently concluded a five-year advocacy campaign at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, having garnered increased recognition for the vital role they play in promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls.

Since 2008, a growing number of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) have attended the annual meeting of the global policy-making body on women's rights, building strong relationships with government delegations, UN agencies, diplomatic missions and non-governmental organisations.

They have also hosted and participated in a wide range of side-events during the CSW sessions, highlighting the practical work they do to promote gender equality at a national level and the unique contribution they make to the international human rights system.

A key goal of the campaign was to advocate for the independent participation of NHRIs in the annual meetings of the CSW, similar to the opportunities available to "A status" NHRIs to take part in discussions at the UN Human Rights Council.

Currently, NHRIs may only participate in CSW meetings if they are invited by to attend as part of their government's delegation or if they seek accreditation through a participating NGO.

The APF has coordinated the advocacy campaign on behalf of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC), which has resulted in:

  • significantly greater understanding of the role and functions of NHRIs among the government delegations that make up the CSW
  • the vital role of NHRIs being recognised by the CSW on each occasion it has adopted Agreed Conclusions at the end of its annual session; before 2009, NHRIs had not been specifically mentioned in these statements
  • the Human Rights Council adopting a resolution in 2012 that recognised the contribution of NHRIs at the CSW and encouraged their ongoing advocacy for independent participation
  • the rights of women and girls gaining greater prominence within NHRIs around the globe, including through the decision of the ICC to dedicate its biennial conference in 2012 to the issue of women and girls' human rights and gender equality. It also ensured that women and girls' human rights will be a standing annual agenda item at ICC general meetings.

"These tangible outcomes are a result of the tireless efforts of NHRIs from all regions of the world, especially from the Asia Pacific," said Pip Dargan, Deputy Director of the APF secretariat.

"Our campaign also highlighted that the independent participation of NHRIs in forums such as the CSW will depend on decisions made at the UN General Assembly and the UN Economic and Social Council."

The APF will present a concluding report on the CSW advocacy campaign to the ICC General Meeting in May 2013. The report also outlines the process and procedures for the ICC to apply for Permanent Observer status at the General Assembly and provides information on the Review of the Economic and Social Council and the opportunities this may present.

Seven national human rights institutions attended the 57th Session of the CSW, held in New York from 4-15 March 2013, including Australia, India, Jordan, Korea, the Philippines, Mexico and Morocco.

The priority theme of this year's discussion was the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Date: 12 April 2013

Image credits

  1. Two women in Nepal hold a sign saying "Equal?" - Stephan Bachenheimer/World Bank, Flickr