Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee (hereinafter “the Advisory Committee”), composed of 18 experts, was established to function as a think-tank for the Council and work at its direction. The Advisory Committee replaced the former Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
Human Rights Council Resolution 16/3 (March 2011), “Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind” tasked the HRC Advisory Committee to “prepare a study on how a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values of dignity, freedom and responsibility can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights”.
A deeply worrying draft study was presented at the 8th session of the Advisory Committee in February 2012. Amongst other things, the draft suggests that “all international human rights agreements … must be based on, and not contradict, the traditional values of humankind. If this is not the case, they cannot be considered valid”, that the international community should defer to the sovereignty of States, that human rights recognition arises from “responsible behaviour” by the individual, and in promoting “the family” as a transmitter of moral values fails to acknowledge either the diversity of family forms or the fact that families can also be potential sites of abuse.
Concerns with the draft report were raised by Advisory Committee members, member States, UN organisations and NGOs during the session.
The drafting group then prepared a second draft of the study. Although the second draft did go into the necessary detail in considering the harmful effects of traditional values, we remained concerned about some elements, such as paragraphs dealing with the controversial notion of “individual responsibility”. The second draft of the report was considered by the Advisory Committee at its 9th session, from 6-10 August 2012. A summary of the discussions can be found here. Finally, the Advisory Committee adopted a decision requesting the Human Rights Council to defer the submission of the final study until its twenty-second session in March 2013 in view of the challenges in incorporating views and comments by Committee Experts into the revised study.
7th session – August 2011
> Joint NGO submission: “Traditional Values” A-HRC-AC7-NGO-1
> AWID submission: “Traditional Values” A-HRC-AC7-NGO-2
8th session – February 2012
> NGO submission: Top 10 concerns with the draft study
9th session – August 2012
> Summary of discussions at the 9th session