Madeleine Brecher, ICJW Representative to the NGO/CSW in New York reports on their meeting on 19 April 2018 to discuss the CSW62 Outcome Document and how to find advocacy opportunities for Gender & Human Rights issues.
The April meeting was divided into two parts:
• The Gender and Human Rights Panel featuring:
1. Thierno Adenhof, Associate High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
2. Bruce Knotts, NGO Committee on Human Rights (Co-Chair)
3. Denise Scotto, Esq., Intl. Law and Policy Advisor
• CSW62 Outcome Document Review
1. Winifred Doherty
2. Jordan Williams
Gender and Human Rights Panel
Bruce Knotts explained that where authoritarian governments rule, there are no gay rights, no gender equality and there are many marginalized groups. Other rights are established only after a country has achieved gender equality. Women are the problem solvers. He gave examples of how the picture changes when women are given their rightful representation.
For example, after the Rwanda massacre, there were NO allegations of gender-based
violence. When Navi Pillay was unanimously elected President of the Rwanda Criminal
Tribunal, she did some extraordinary research and discovered countless examples of such violence that had to be investigated and dealt with. Bruce suggested that religions must allow women in leadership roles.
Thierno Adenhof has been charged with facilitating relationships between civil society
organizations and UN leadership for the NY Office of OHCHR. He has been networking and facilitating NGO engagement since his arrival in NY where he has already set up several meetings, i.e. next week there will be a meeting between the President of the Human Rights Council and civil society. He will be following CONGO on its accreditation of new NGOs to guarantee that the process is one of fairness. If an NGO has any issues, his office can be used as an entry point into the vast UN system and he was very open about being comfortable contacting him. He informed us of the Human Rights newsletter coming out of Geneva as a way to be informed of current human rights issues in front of the Council and suggested we send him our contact information to get on that listserv. He was very welcoming and was complimented for his daily attendance at every NGO CSW morning briefing during the two weeks of CSW62. He will be an excellent resource for NY-based NGOs to monitor the HRC in Geneva.
Thierno distributed an informative paper entitled: “Acts of intimidation and reprisal for engaging with the UN on human rights” which included where to send such
information, what information to include and where to find out more. It is NOT easy to find an entry point into areas of the UN system and this paper should be very helpful in getting through to the OHCHR.
Denise Scotto defined human rights as dignity for everyone. She spoke of the importance of investing in women who invest in families and kids. Denise has been involved with women’s issues in the UN system for many years and she spoke eloquently of the myriad positions she has held where she provided service and information as an attorney.
CSW62 Outcome Document Review
Winifred and her committee did a superb job preparing an NGO Civil Society Outcome
Document to submit our interventions to the Commission on the Status of Women prior to their deliberations in March. They sought input from a vast civil society constituency and worked for months to prepare the NGO document. Perhaps, they conclude, they included too much as not much of what they submitted was in the final agreed conclusions.
At this meeting, she and Jordan did a brief review of the Commission’s Agreed Conclusions and some of the major pieces that were eliminated in order to achieve consensus. Their main points were:
• The global community came together on this document and the final Agreed Conclusions would have been so much better if the UN paid some attention to civil society.
• They never defined rural women and girls, which should have read “WOMEN AND GIRLS LIVING IN RURAL AREAS”.
• Some comments by NGOs: They delivered a blueprint but the marginalized women we care about were not mentioned; they lost the strong language on migration; Femnet, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network, celebrated it as a progressive document; widows were strongly focused on its wording and were very disappointed.
• The Holy See preferred sovereignty of the state to sexual and reproductive rights.
• Fundamentalist and Patriarchal states made it difficult to achieve the desired consensus.
• Sovereignty issues went in, women’s human rights defenders were out.
• Once our civil society document was sent to the member states, we lost any control.
• In March 2018, the CSW was still negotiating the same issues as in the past; there is a stall on moving forward and making progress.
• We must be more selective with our points in the future and then perhaps they’d listen.
• Best practices were included in the Agreed Conclusions. It is OUR job to monitor
implementation of these best practices which we are remiss at doing.
• We must expand our networks.
• There were no references to the SDGs, only to the 2030 agenda.