V The interconnections to other resolutions at the 32nd Session of the Council

SOGI issues are of course closely connected to progress on range of human rights issues.  The linkages between SOGI and other human rights issues was perhaps best illustrated at the Council by the voting on three important resolutions, namely violence against women, protection of the family and civil society space.

The resolution on violence against women its causes and consequences had, as its ask, the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. The resolution itself was adopted by consensus, though Russia introduced 11 amendments (7 of which were withdrawn), to remove references to interalia, intimate partner violence, human rights defenders and comprehensive sexuality education. All amendments were defeated.

The ask of the resolution on the protection of the family, was the holding of a one-day intersessional seminar on the impact of the implementation by States of their obligations under relevant provisions of international human rights law with regard to the role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities.

The resolution was controversial because it refused to acknowledge the fact that families were diverse, refused to concede that families while playing a role in  protection of rights could also be an institution for the perpetration of violence and that morality and tradition which the family was instrumental in passing down could be concepts which violate rights. Clearly this resolution had negative implications for the rights of women, children and LBGTI persons.

It should be noted that the resolution on protection of the family passed with a large majority of 32 in favour, 12 against and three abstentions. (For a descriptive account of the vote see Annex III) The previous resolution on protection of the family in the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council in 2015, passed with a majority of 29 in favour, 14 against and 4 abstentions. With respect to protection of the family resolutions, support at the Human Rights Council seems to be on an upward trajectory. There is a necessity to think about a different strategy with respect to dealing with the protection of the family. [1]

The resolution on civil society space which was adopted by a vote of 31 in favour, 7 against, with 9 abstentions, emphasized the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity, emphasized the importance of civil society space for empowering persons belonging to minorities and vulnerable groups as well as persons espousing minority or dissenting views  or beliefs and called upon states to ensure that legislation, policies and practices do not undermine the enjoyment by such persons of their human rights or the activities of civil society in defending their rights. The resolution requested the High Commissioner to prepare a report on the procedures and practices in respect of civil society involvement with regional and international organizations.

The civil society resolution was sought to be diluted by amendments proposed by Russia which sought to remove references to interalia, ‘human rights defenders’ and most vitally a paragraph which aptly recognized that, ‘the ability to seek, secure and use resources is essential to the existence and sustainable operation of civil society actors, and that restrictions on funding to civil society actors may constitute a violation of the right to freedom of association’. All twelve of the amendments including the two quoted above were defeated. (For a descriptive account of the vote see Annex IV)

Why all three resolutions are vital for thinking of any strategy going forward is because of what the voting tells us about the nature of alliances. Clearly, Russia, China and the OIC members are closely involved in both diluting civil society safeguards, protecting only one type of family and in opposing sexual orientation and gender identity at the Human Rights Council.

The broader principle underlying the opposition is really an opposition to the idea of universality of rights and a re-inscription of the importance of national sovereignty. The struggles around these resolutions at the Human Rights Council are only indicative of the broader range of struggles being carried out in diverse national and regional contexts where activists are seeking to broaden the space to dissent and create space for diverse ways of living and being.

Read more:

I Introduction

II The process leading up to the SOGI Resolution 2016 

The logic underlying a resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity

The draft resolution

Informals on the draft resolution

Civil Society Advocacy Efforts

Joint statements by civil society

Making the case for an Independent Expert at the Human Rights Council

III Understanding the SOGI Resolution 2016

The voting results 

An analysis of the hostile amendments 

What the resolution does is more important than what the resolution says

IV Understanding the Political: Why did states vote the way they did? 

Understanding the ‘yes’ vote

The leadership of the LAC 7

The Asian yes vote

The failed rhetoric of developed versus developing countries

The passion underlying the yes vote

 Understanding the abstentions

South Africa: Abstention as regression

Ghana, Botswana and Namibia: Abstention as progress

India’s abstention: Remaining in the same place?

The Philippines abstention: A step backwards.

 Understanding the ‘no’ vote

The leadership of the OIC

The African Group

The support of Russia and China

Wider opposition to the framework of universal human rights

The threat to the functioning of the Council

V The interconnections to other resolutions at the 32ndSession of the Council

Annex I Brief Summary of other references to SOGI in the 32nd Session of the HRC

GENERAL DEBATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS THAT REQUIRE THE COUNCIL’S ATTENTION

GENERAL DEBATE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE VIENNA DECLARATION AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION

GENERAL DEBATE ON THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS

GENERAL DEBATE ON THE REPORT OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER OF HUMAN RIGHTS

INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON EXTREME POVERTY

INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND OF ASSOCIATION

INTERATIVE DIAGLOGUE ON THE RIGHT TO HEALTH

PANEL DISCUSSIONS

UN COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON SYRIA: ISIS IS COMMITTING GENOCIDE AGAINST YAZIDIS

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

Annex II Description of the vote on the SOGI Resolution

Action on Draft Amendments L.71 to L.81

Action on Draft Resolution L.2/Rev.1

Action on Non-Action Motion

Action on Operative Paragraph 2

Action on the Title of Draft Resolution L.2/Rev.1

Introduction of the Resolution

Separate Action on Operative Paragraphs 3 To 7

Annex III Description of the vote on the Family Resolution

Action on the Amendments L.82, L.83, L.84 L.89

Action on Draft Resolution L.35

Annex IV Description of the vote on the Civil Society Resolution

Action on Amendments L.52, L.53, L.54, L.55, L.56, L.59, L.60, L.61, L.62, L.63, L.64, L.65

Action on the Resolution on Civil Society Space

Download full Report in PDF.

[1]Arvind Narrain, Decoding the Politics Underlying the Resolution on Protection of the Family,

http://www.jurist.org/hotline/2015/09/arvind-narrain-family-protection.php