Human Rights Council Elections: a Discussion of Candidates' Aspirations and Vision of Membership

Will new members of the Human Rights Council (HRC) have visions and commitments that include women's human rights and strengthen the women, peace and security agenda? The July 9th event hosted by Amnesty International and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), in conjunction with the Permanent Mission of Argentina and Germany, provided insight on this question. Candidates seeking election to the HRC in November 2013 from all regional groups attended, including representatives from France, Maldives, Mexico, South Sudan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Uruguay.

Candidates discussed their visions and commitments for HRC membership, including what kind of contributions they would make and how they proposed to promote human rights at home as well as abroad. Unfortunately, until the question and answer period, women's rights and gender equality was only marginally addressed in discussion of human rights and international peace and security. There were a couple of notable exceptions. The representative from South Sudan prioritized integrating and mainstreaming gender-sensitive policies and trainings within all sectors and institutions; and the representative from the Maldives highlighted state efforts to ensure protection of women from sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) during political demonstrations. Fortunately, the question and answer period enabled civil society to raise questions of gender and human rights which strengthened attention to these issues. As the HRC elects a new set of members this fall, it will be critical to address these issues from the outset rather than as an afterthought, and strengthen recognition and concrete action recognizing that women's rights are human rights and peace and security for women is key to peace and security for all.

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