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APF members lobby for a voice on women’s rights

Graphic: Opening of the CSW meeting

Five APF member institutions attended this month’s session of the CSW to advocate for the independent participation of NHRIs in the UN body.

Five APF member institutions, in conjunction with the APF Secretariat, attended the 53rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York earlier this month to advocate for the independent participation of NHRIs in the UN body.

The initiative, endorsed unanimously by the Asia Pacific Forum in July last year, was also adopted by the International Conference on National Institutions held in October.

During the two-week session, the human rights commissions of Australia, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines and Thailand, as well as the APF, held meetings with their government representatives, other government delegations, UN agencies and national, regional and international NGOs that attend the CSW.

Other APF member institutions that were unable to attend the session, including the national human rights commissions of Jordan and New Zealand, approached their respective governments to promote the independent and informed contribution that 'A-accredited' NHRIs can bring to CSW discussions.

The advocacy efforts of APF member institutions resulted in the following positive outcomes:

  • Formal statements promoting the role of NHRIs in CSW from the Governments of Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Philippines and Thailand
  • A statement by the Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women strongly encouraging CSW to consider how NHRIs could be fully integrated into its work.
  • NHRIs participating in three side events
  • Inclusion of specific text in the formal 'Agreed Conclusions' of CSW referring to the role of NHRIs.

"Currently NHRIs do not have standing in their own right in the CSW, with the result that NHRIs can only attend the CSW as part of their country's government delegation if they are invited," said Pip Dargan, Deputy Director of the APF Secretariat, who coordinated the advocacy initiative.

"As the principal global policy-making body on gender equality and the advancement of women, it is very important that NHRIs are able to bring to these discussions their independent knowledge and expertise on the human rights issues facing women and girls in their country."

While acknowledging the positive results from this month's meeting, Ms Dargan anticipates that the combined advocacy efforts of individual NHRIs, the APF and the International Coordinating Committee could take several years of active engagement with the CSW to bear fruit.

"However, our presence at this session certainly helped to build momentum on this important issue and provided an opportunity for NHRIs to discuss the practical work they are doing to promote and protect the rights of women and girls," she said.

A report of the APF's engagement at the CSW will be discussed at the next session of the International Coordinating Committee, to be held in Geneva on 23-27 March 2009, including recommendations on how the international coalition of NHRIs can support these advocacy efforts.

Date: 22 March 2009

Image credits

  1. Opening of the CSW meeting - SustainUS, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1RdkA93