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NHRIs lobby for role in global gender body

Graphic: Older woman in Sumatra

Six NHRIs attended this year’s meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, continuing an international advocacy campaign that began in earnes

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Six national human rights institutions attended this year's meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), continuing an international advocacy campaign for the independent participation of NHRIs in the global policy making body that began in earnest in 2009.

The national human rights institutions of Jordan (the incoming Chair of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions), Australia, Korea, Mexico, Morocco and Qatar attended the two week gathering in New York, held from 27 February – 9 March 2012.

The secretariat of the Asia Pacific Forum also attended, represented by its Deputy Director, Pip Dargan.

"As in previous year's, our attendance helped raise awareness among the government delegations that make up the CSW of the role played by national human rights institutions to advance gender equality," Ms Dargan said.

She said that meetings were held with a range of stakeholders to discuss the independent participation of national human rights institutions in CSW meetings, including UN Women, the Australian and Qatari Permanent Missions to the UN and the Mexican Ambassador to the UN, Luis Alfonso De'Alba.

Ambassador De'Alba provided a number of constructive suggestions to build support for the participation of national human rights institutions in CSW and other similar UN bodies. He also offered to host a lunch of Ambassadors as 'friends of NHRIs' in either July or September 2012.

Unlike the UN Human Rights Council, national human rights institutions may only participate in discussions of the CSW if they are invited by to attend as part of their government's delegation.

In some cases, NHRIs may have to seek accreditation through an NGO to attend the session.

"As the principal global policy-making body on gender equality, it is vital that NHRIs contribute their independent expertise on the human rights issues facing women and girls in their countries to these international discussions," Ms Dargan said.

This year's CSW meeting focused on the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges.

In previous years, the agreed conclusions adopted at the completion of the CSW meeting have acknowledged the important role of national human rights institutions to promote and protect the rights of women and girls.

Unfortunately, the government delegations to CSW were unable to finalise a set of agreed conclusions on the priority theme following this year's meeting.

While this was disappointing, Ms Dargan said there were a number of positive outcomes from participating in this year's CSW meeting and engaging with a broad range of stakeholders.

"For example, UN Women have expressed an interest in the idea of working in partnership with NHRIs at a country level in a more systemic manner.This type of partnership could be nurtured to enhance the capacities of NHRIs to more effectively promote and protect the human rights of women and girl-children."

Date: 9 April 2012


Image credits

  1. Older woman in Sumatra - Rainforest Action Network, Flickr