By Arvind Narrain
This article makes the case for why the mandate of the Independent Expert on SOGI must be renewed based on an analysis of the work of the Independent Expert in three areas, namely country visits, sending letters of allegation to individual countries and producing thematic reports on SOGI issues. The analysis of these three areas of work reveals that the Independent Expert on SOGI has become a vital element in the defence of the rights of the LGBT community worldwide and a failure to renew the mandate would be a huge setback to the LGBTI struggle.
Civil Society organizations from around the world were passionately invested in the struggle to establish the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI). In fact, over 850 civil society organisations from over 157 countries signed a statement supporting the mandate.
After a long drawn out battle, where the establishment of the mandate was furiously contested not only in the Human Rights Council but also in the Third Committee of the United Nations, The Fifth Committee of the United Nations and the General Assembly, the mandate finally stood established.
This mandate of the SOGI Independent Expert which was appointed in 2016 is poised to expire in 2019 and its up to the Human Rights Council to vote on whether the mandate should be renewed. This article argues that the mandate must be renewed, basing the call for renewal on an evaluation of what the mandate has achieved and its significance for the LGBT movement worldwide.
The working of the mandate can be assessed in terms of how the following three responsibilities of the mandate holder have been discharged
- transmits urgent appeals and letters of allegation to States with regard to cases of violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- undertakes fact-finding country visits.
- submits annual reports to the Human Rights Council, and General Assembly, on the activities, trends and methods of work.