It’s been a busy start to 2014 for the ARC team, with meetings, conferences and preparations for the upcoming session of the Human Rights Council.
MEETINGS AND CONFERENCES
International meeting on religious fundamentalisms
In December, Advocacy and Communications Manager Sheherezade Kara, engaged in an international strategy meeting on women’s rights and gender justice in the face of religious fundamentalisms, organised by AWID, Católicas por el derecho a decidir, Musawah, and Global Rights Watch. The aim of the meeting was to create a space to share diverse experiences and insights, inspire creative and effective strategies, discuss plans of action and formulate political actions to advance our collective advocacy on this issue.
Consultation with UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
ARC participated in an expert consultation organised by Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in December 2013. The focus of this meeting was on groups most at risk of attacks and reprisals when exercising the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and the discussions are expected to inform the Special Rapporteur’s 2014 report to the Human Rights Council.
Global Interfaith Network
ARC was pleased to be invited to the conference and launch of the Global Interfaith Network for persons of all Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions (GIN-SSOGIE) in South Africa this January. The set of objectives adopted by the network include building capacity and resources, such as theological studies on SSOGIE, and engaging in human rights advocacy efforts at all levels, from the local to the international. A website for the network will be published by the steering committee soon.
Human rights course: National University of Ireland, Galway
This month, ARC Co-Director John Fisher was invited to Galway to present a guest lecture to a graduate studies class on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, hosted by Prof. Michael O’Flaherty, and participate in an evening symposium organised by the Irish Centre for Human Rights on the struggle for equal marriage, together with the Irish NGO GLEN. The visit also served as an opportunity to explore potential collaborations with the Irish Centre for Human Rights, including a possible annual training or summer school to strengthen engagement with human rights systems by LGBTI advocates.
Landmark Resolution on Women Human Rights Defenders
In November 2013 the first ever resolution on the rights of women human rights defenders was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Unfortunately, key language calling on States to condemn all forms of violence against women and WHRDs, and to refrain from invoking any customs, tradition or religious consideration to avoid obligations related to the elimination of violence against women was negotiated out of the final text. All language on sexuality was removed from the draft early in the negotiation process. While the resolution as adopted does not comprehensively address all risks and protection needs of women human rights defenders, it remains an important and historic resolution.
See the final text as adopted here.
C-FAM granted ECOSOC status; ARC again deferred
ARC’s application for ECOSOC status was again under consideration by the ECOSOC NGO Committee at its January session. ARC had duly answered all questions raised at the previous session, and was asked only one question this session, about our community partnerships, which we were able to answer immediately. Nonetheless, ARC’s application was again deferred, without reasons, as were the applications of a number of other NGOs working positively to advance human rights. At the same session, C-FAM, the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (www.c-fam.org), was recommended for ECOSOC status. ARC’s application will again arise for consideration at the next NGO Committee session in May. The NGO Committee report is available here.
18th UPR session
The 18th UPR session took place from January 27 to February 7 2014. States under review included New Zealand, Afghanistan, Chile, Viet Nam, Uruguay, Yemen, Vanuatu, Macedonia, Comoros, Slovakia, Eritrea, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, and Cambodia. Final responses to the various recommendations on SOGI-related issues will be given at the 26th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2014.
Download our report of the session: SOGI report UPR18
OTHER NEWS AND DEVELOPMENTS
Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights
The Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights Project continues to move forward in its 5-year plan. There has been considerable focus on recent developments in India and Uganda within the research teams, including speaking events, film screenings and research reports, most of which are available on Envisioning’s public website at: http://www.envisioninglgbt.blogspot.ca/. Envisioning will be significantly involved in activities around the upcoming World Pride in Toronto, Canada (June, 2014), including hosting several panels, a full day meeting of the research teams and executive, and participation in what promises to be the biggest World Pride march ever.
Finance and admin position
ARC warmly welcomes Kandra West, our new Finance and Administration Officer, to the team. Kandra is based in Nova Scotia, and provides ARC with much needed support, meaning that we can focus more of our energies on substantive human rights work in 2014.
10 year review of international developments
ARC consultants (Jack Byrne, Dodo Karsay, and Lucas Paoli) are making great progress with this research project. In December and early January, the focus was on desk research to compile and synthesize significant amounts of documents and data that are currently available. In addition, the framework for the report, the interview guidelines and questionnaire templates are almost ready to roll out. If you have worked closely with ARC over the last 10 years, you may be contacted for an interview, and if not, all SOGI list members will have the opportunity to participate in an on-line questionnaire and to indicate if they would like to self-nominate for an interview.
ARC is pleased to participate in an upcoming civil society meeting in Istanbul to discuss the work of NGOs on sexual orientation and gender identity at the UN. The meeting will focus on a range of topics, and will be informed by papers prepared by researchers especially for the discussions. The meeting has been co-organised by a large number of NGOs from all regions, and is due to take place at the end of February.
25th session of the HRC
The 25th session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 3 to 28 March 2014. No SOGI resolution is anticipated at this session, as the lead sponsor South Africa has indicated its wish to first focus on an African regional seminar (for which dates have yet to be announced). Nonetheless, the four week session is again expected to be busy, starting with the High Level Segment, followed by interactive dialogues with the High Commissioner and Special Procedures (including on torture, human rights defenders, freedom of religion, and cultural rights), and adoption of reports from the 17th UPR session (countries include Saudi Arabia, Senegal, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Mauritius, Jordan, Malaysia, Central African Republic, Monaco, Belize, Chad, Israel, Congo, and Malta). The session will also see negotiation of a broad range of resolutions, appointment of new Special Procedure mandate-holders, including on human rights defenders, opportunities to highlight thematic and country-specific issues of concern through general debate, and awareness-raising through a number of relevant side events.
The fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 21 March 2014. The priority theme of this year’s session is on the “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”.
The draft agreed conclusions are now available here.
Deadline for UPR submissions – 15 March
Please note that the deadline for NGO submissions to the 20th UPR session is the 15th of March 2014. States under review include Italy, El Salvador, Gambia, Bolivia, Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran, Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Stakeholders’ submissions should be sent through the a new online system available at: https://uprdoc.ohchr.org
ARC’s Guide to the UPR is available here.
Watch this space!
Kim, Sheherezade and John.
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10. February 2014