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NHRIs receive strong backing at CSW 60

Graphic: Represemtatives from Australia and Germany address the NHRI side event

Identifying ways to give NHRIs a greater role in discussions at the Commission on the Status of Women was a key point in the Agreed Conclusions.

Participants at this year's session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women have highlighted the valuable contribution that national human rights institutions can make to global discussions of the issues facing women and girls.

A contingent of seven NHRIs (Australian, Canada, Denmark, Korea, Morocco, New Zealand and the Philippines), led by the APF, attended CSW 60 in New York to continue the campaign for NHRIs to participate independently in the work of the CSW.

Unlike at the Human Rights Council, 'A status' NHRIs do not have standing in their own right to participate in meetings of the CSW and can only attend as part of their country's government delegation, if they are invited or participate as NGOs. Neither option is appropriate and inconsistent with their status as independent institutions recognised by the UN.

As part of these advocacy efforts, and with the support of the Permanent Missions of Australia, Germany, Chile and Morocco, the APF and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), hosted a side event to demonstrate the value of NHRI participation in CSW on 15 March 2016.

In a historic step forward, the Agreed Conclusions issued at the end of CSW 60 included a standalone paragraph to encourage the CSW Secretariat to consider how it could enhance the participation of NHRIs, including at its next session in 2017:

The Commission recalls General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/163 and encourages the Secretariat to consider how to enhance the participation, including at the 61st Session of the Commission, of national human rights institutions fully compliant with the Paris Principles, where they exist, in compliance with the ECOSOC rules of procedure.

"This is a very positive development for national human rights institutions," said Pip Dargan, APF Gender Focal Point and Deputy Director of the APF secretariat.

"The APF, in partnership with GANHRI, has been strongly advocating over a number of years for NHRIs to be able to participate independently at CSW and share their knowledge and expertise in promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls," she said.

"We will now focus our attention on working with the CSW secretariat to determine what role NHRIs may be able to play in 2017."

Graphic: Roberta Clarke, UN Women, addresses the NHRI side event

Ms Dargan said that the strong backing for NHRIs displayed by a number of governments was critical in achieving this result, including the governments of Australia, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, Philippines and Nepal, who made statements of support during CSW.

The advice and support of NGO partners, especially the International Service for Human Rights, was also invaluable to NHRI advocacy efforts, Ms Dargan said.

This result also lays strong foundations for the APF and GANRHI to further negotiate for NHRI independent participation in the other mechanisms referred to in the General Assembly's resolution on NHRI participation in the UN (A/RES/70/163).

Along with CSW, these mechanisms include the Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing; and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including its high-level political forum.

CSW 60 was held from 14-24 March 2016. Women's empowerment and its link to sustainable development was the priority theme for this year's meeting.

Date: 11 April 2016

Image credits

  1. Represemtatives from Australia and Germany address the NHRI side event - APF/Joel Sheakoski
  2. Roberta Clarke, UN Women, addresses the NHRI side event - APF/Joel Sheakoski