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NHRIs continue advocacy at Commission on Status of Women

Graphic: Access to education was a key topic at CSW 55

Progress is being made in the campaign for independent participation of NHRIs in the work of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

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The important role of national human rights institutions to promote and protect the rights of women and girls has been acknowledged in the concluding statement of this year's meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

The Agreed Conclusions from the 55th Session of CSW (CSW 55) highlighted a number of strategies to bolster the participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, and called on governments, civil society, the private sector, NHRIs and others to take practical steps to help achieve this goal.

This reference to national human rights institutions in the Agreed Conclusions of CSW 55 is another positive step in the ongoing campaign for their independent participation in the work of this UN global policy-making body, said Pip Dargan, APF Deputy Director.

"It shows that our lobbying efforts are helping to raise awareness of the role of national human rights institutions among the government delegations that make up the CSW," she said.

"For example, before our campaign began in earnest in 2009, national human rights institutions had not been specifically mentioned in the concluding statements of previous CSW meetings."

Ms Dargan said that unlike the UN Human Rights Council, national human rights institutions may only participate in discussions of the CSW if they are invited by to attend as part of their government's delegation.

In some cases NHRIs are not invited by their governments to attend CSW as part of its delegation and have to seek accreditation through an NGO to attend the session.

"As the principal global policy-making body on gender equality, it is vital that NHRIs can contribute their independent expertise on the human rights issues facing women and girls in their countries to these international discussions," Ms Dargan said.

"It also enables NHRIs to be aware of international developments affecting women and children and to be more conscious of the role they can play in monitoring the recommendations of CSW."

Seven national human rights institutions attended CSW 55, held in New York from 22 February-4 March 2011, as part of the advocacy program led by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC).

They included the national human rights commissions of Australia, Canada, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines. They were supported by the APF secretariat.

In addition, the Australian and Armenian Permanent Missions in New York co-hosted a side event on the independent participation of national human rights institutions in the work of the CSW.

The discussion, which was well attended government and civil society representatives, featured presentations from Ms Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Commissioner of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and ICC Chair, and Dr Muhyieddeen Touq, Commissioner General of the Jordan National Centre for Human Rights and APF Chair.

"While we have made good progress so far, we need the continued efforts of NHRIs from all parts of the globe if we are going to achieve our goal," Ms Dargan said.

To maintain momentum, she said that individual NHRIs should hold discussions with relevant government ministries, such as ministries for women and foreign affairs, well in advance of the next CSW session in March 2012.

They could also raise the issue in reports to UN human rights treaty bodies, especially to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and build awareness and support for the campaign among NGOs and civil society groups.

Further discussion regarding the ICC's ongoing strategy to achieve independent accreditation and participation at CSW, equivalent to that at the Human Rights Council, will be held at the upcoming 24th session of the ICC, scheduled for May 2011 in Geneva.

Date: 21 March 2011

Image credits

  1. Access to education was a key topic at CSW 55 - Kara Newhouse, Flickr