38th Session of the Human Rights Council concludes in Geneva

Human Rights Council, Geneva

IPPF celebrates a number of important advancements in sexual and reproductive health and rights made at the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), which concluded on July 6th in Geneva, Switzerland. 

We commend Mexico and Colombia’s leadership, together with other 58 co-sponsors, for a bold and looking forward resolution on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women by consensus. For the first time, the Council recognizes that safe abortion is included under international human rights law and States must respect women’s bodily autonomy.  IPPF strongly supports concerns expressed in this resolution at the backlash to progress on women’s and girls’ rights linked to economic crisis and inequality, regressive lobbies and political or religious interpretations.  It’s regrettable, however, that some Member States still oppose terms such as Comprehensive Sexuality Education – a programme that aims at equipping children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that empower them to realize their health, wellbeing and dignity - or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), despite it being the most common form of violence against women in the world, with 1 in 3 women experiencing IPV in her lifetime.

IPPF strongly welcomes the resolution presented by Canada aiming at preventing and Responding to Violence against Women and Girls in Digital Contexts. For the first time, the HRC puts the spotlight on  the numerous and diverse forms of abuse, harassment and violence that women and girls disproportionately face in digital contexts and provides key guidance on how States can advance and fulfil women and girls’ human rights, including through countering structural inequalities and gender stereotypes, guaranteeing essential rights on privacy and confidentiality, and ending impunity by holding perpetrators to account. 

We commend Portugal, Brazil, Colombia, Mozambique and Thailand’s leadership in the Human Rights and HIV initiative. It demands for protection and fulfilment of human rights, non-discrimination and non-violence in the context HIV and AIDS as well full access for all persons living with, presumed to be living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV, including key populations, adolescents and young people, women and girls, migrants, etc. to HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and support.  Also, for the first time there was consensus in calling States to include information on sexuality as one of the elements of comprehensive educational programs for adolescents and young people. This critical educational component had been left out of previous resolutions, and its inclusion is a major step forward in guaranteeing comprehensive sexuality education for all. 

We also applaud the condemnation and prohibition of all forms of female genital mutilation, including in medical contexts, in the African Group initiative on this matter, as well as the recognition that States must harmonize their laws to effectively combat the cross-border practice of this practice. 
Finally, IPPF warmly welcomes the resolutions on The Right to Education, which calls on states to eliminate school-based sexual harassment and sexual and gender-based violence, and the education system to strengthen their monitoring and accountability systems, mainstream human rights across all training and curricula. We also welcome the Chile, Ireland, Japan, Sierra Leone and Tunisia initiative on the Civil Society engagement with International and Regional Organizations, which highlights the important role of civil society organizations and human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights and condemns the violence and discrimination they face.