Rights for rights defenders

The UN General Assembly has adopted the first ever resolution on the protection of women human rights defenders. What a good idea. Given the way a lot of people feel about women’s rights, they’re not going to feel all that friendly toward defenders of women’s rights. There’s an interview with Geir Sjøberg, the Lead Negotiator for Norway on this resolution.

The resolution sends a clear message that violence against women human rights defenders, including gender-based and sexual violence, can never be condoned or accepted under any circumstance. It’s unacceptable to criminalize, stigmatize or curtail women human rights defenders by violent and other means. The resolution prescribes a number of steps to be taken by States to prevent violence, violations and abuses against women human rights defenders. The resolution also urges all States to publicly condemn violence and discrimination against women human rights defenders.

There’s an item in there that the pope and the rest of the Vatican should find hard to obey, determined as they are to make women subordinate to their own pregnancies, definitely meaning even if it kills them.

The initially tabled draft resolution cosponsored by 18 Member States also contained a paragraph on the right to control and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, as well as reproductive rights. The special focus on these issues from the outset, supported by a significant number of States, sent a strong message.

Which the pope and his fellow male clerics will be sure to ignore and defy. They will not permit women to have rights greater than the rights of their pregnancies.

The resolution was the subject of several hostile amendments towards the end of negotiations. What do you make of the deep division in the UN membership in this case?

The international community has sent a clear message in passing this resolution by consensus. The resolution may not be perfect, but it represents a step in the right direction, where the differences were bridged sufficiently for broad agreement on key fundamentals. This in itself is significant. It’s better to focus on what unites us than what sets us apart. The voice of the international community is stronger when united.

Differences in view displayed during the negotiations should be taken seriously, but they were ultimately not allowed to derail the process and in the end the tabled amendments were withdrawn. This indicated a will on all sides to find common ground, which is important in moving forward.

I wonder what those hostile amendments were. Catholic amendments demanding that women’s rights should always be subordinate to the rights of their pregnancies?

I’ll see if I can find out…

H/t Michael DeDora


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Arguably women’s rights advocates face more widespread hostility, but shouldn’t such rights also extend to defenders of, e.g, labor rights,minorities, the environment, etc?

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