Human Rights Council

ACEI UN Representatives Justine Heckmann and Cassandre Guibord Cyr attended the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on 12-30 September 2016.

Highlights From the Human Rights Council in Geneva

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the protection and promotion of human rights globally. It discusses situations of human rights violations and makes recommendations about how to address them. The Human Rights Council recently concluded its 33rd session, held from 13 to 30 September in Geneva, Switzerland.

Half-day panel discussion on violence against indigenous women and girls
The Human Rights Council held its half-day annual discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples, focusing on violence against indigenous women and girls, including those with disabilities. Adam Abdelmoula, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division, stated that indigenous women face discrimination and violence in both public and private settings, and explained that the indigenous women who have been victims of violence often face several barriers in accessing justice (because of their language or culture). Consequently, Mr. Abdelmoula emphasized the importance of ensuring translation of official documents. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, stated that indigenous women are marginalized in terms of access to both national and international justice, and urged States to protect indigenous women and girls as well as other citizens. State representatives at the session agreed that ending violence against indigenous women and girl should be a priority for every country, and that integrated measures to eliminate violence should be implemented.

Panel discussion on youth and human rights
The Council held a panel discussion on Youth and Human Rights, following the adoption of a resolution in June on the same theme. Kate Gilmore, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, opened the panel with a discussion of the challenges facing this generation of 1.8 billion young people worldwide. Sustainable development will be a critical factor to ensure the well-being of this generation, which can be also called the Sustainable Development Generation. Without them, there can be no sustainable development. To better understand the human rights issues affecting youth, Ms. Gilmore provided some essential statistics to keep in mind: 73 million young people worldwide are looking for a job, 43% of violent homicides affect young people, and 3 million girls between 15 and 19 years old go through dangerous abortions each year. Ahmad Alhendawi, the Envoy of the Secretary General on Youth, noted that gaps still remain in human rights protections for youth, including access to health services and education. Young people face barriers to full enjoyment of their rights, often only because of their age. The current generation of young people is the largest one in history, yet they are still often denied basic human rights, including the right to political participation, the right to seek health services, and the right to education.

State representatives argued that young people can be key actors for achieving positive change and addressing global challenges, but they need more opportunities and empowerment. The lack of decent work opportunities; quality education; and opportunities for political, civil, and economic participation are the main areas of discrimination and violation of young people’s human rights.

Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective
Gender inequality is not acceptable, and is a human rights violation. Ms. Gilmore stated that gender inequality can exist under several different forms: limited access for girls to education and health care, early marriage, and sexual violence or trafficking. Such gender inequalities lead to discrimination; issues of diversity, tolerance, and reparation of power, both in private and public spheres, are paramount. Gender consideration is essential for sustainable development.

Public budgeting and children’s rights
The Council also saw the launch of the new General comment No. 19 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding public budgeting for the realization of children’s rights. States that are parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) must invest in children’s rights to make all the rights enshrined in the CRC a reality. Please view a short video presentation on the General comment by Child Rights Connect.

For more information:
Visit the homepage of the Human Rights Council website.

Anne Bauer