The IAW Commission on Human Rights consists of eight nominated members and two additional invited guests. The Commission meets every last Tuesday of the month at the same time, the Jour Fix proves itself for the attendance of the participants. The next meeting of the Human Rights Commission will be held on August 29th at 3pm CEST, 9am EST online.
Interested IAW members are welcome to join and should notify the Convenor (email@example.com) of their interest no later than August 25th.
Our committee members have identified the following Human Rights topics for consideration:
- The advocacy and formulation of a new UN Human Rights Convention on the protection and rights of all older persons (Marion Böker). This will be done in cooperation and exchange with Ms Claudia Mahler (independent Austrian HRC expert on the perceptions of all human rights by older people), the Open End Working Group in New York and optionally the NGO Working Group in Geneva. We will primarily monitor the activities of these Special Procedures, but are particularly willing to participate in the elaboration once the call is received.
- a) Monitoring and advocating for US willingness to ratify the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC) (Susanne Riveles). This is an issue that our Commission has made its own, as human rights violations and crimes against humanity in conflicts and wars – by state and non-state players – are interlinked and need to be covered by the ICC for justice and against impunity by all states. We will urge the US to finalise ratification.
We are also willing to advocate for urgently needed amendments to the Rome Statutes, e.g. on femicide/feminicide. The Rome Statutes of the ICC can be amended regularly through its procedures. Furthermore, we would like to discuss new developments of the ICC in order to improve its work and expand its scope and range of law, especially with regard to women’s rights reporting and participation. This is a topic we share with the IAW Peace Commission and other IAW entities as it is an interface issue.
b) Monitoring and advocacy for Human Rights in Israel/Palestine and the region (Susanne Riveles /Marion Böker).
- Monitoring the Human Rights of religious minorities through special observation of the UN HRC Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Nazila Ghanea, and the UN HRC Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Irene Khan, and also by establishing contact with them (Esther Suter).
- The elimination of gender-based violence against persons, especially women and girls from minority groups, e.g. among migrants and refugees, including human trafficking (Derya Akinci Briand and Laoura Alipranti).
We observe new developments, e.g. new laws in development, various laws and treaties in the process of implementation, and may also add other Human Rights issues of urgency or interest to our agenda.
For example, we have some short-term actions in mind regarding Afghanistan and Iran. The aim is to support women who are rebelling against the systems and regimes of gender apartheid. We will review the IAW Action Programme before the next Congress for any necessary updates. Action will be taken in consultation with the Executive and the UN Geneva Representative Team and other respected units of the IAW.
by Hon. Pres. Lyda Verstegen, former Convenor of Commission on Human Rights
The International Alliance of Women (IAW) has, from the beginning, been dedicated to Justice. It appears on our banner and our symbol is Justitia with her scale.
The original Declaration of Principles was signed in 1902 by Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Gudrun Drewsen, Vida Goldstein, Carolina Huidorro, Florence Fenwick Miller, Antonie Stolle, and Emmy Evald, among others. It says: “That the refusal to recognize women as individual members of society, entitled to the right of self-government, has resulted in social, legal, and economical injustice to them, and has intensified the existing economic disturbances throughout the world;” The founding women thought then that the ballot would be the solution.
Achieving equal representation and equal rights-equal responsibilities were the next strategy to end injustice. And, indeed, in the 1950s and 60s a lot of unjust laws were changed.
Many women thought that the United Nations human rights treaties, the Civil and Political Rights and the Social and Cultural Rights Conventions, would remedy the wrongs still experienced by women. However, it was as if they were written for men only, and so women, and IAW, pushed for their own treaty to end continuing inequality: CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the UN in 1979, and its optional protocol. This gave women the right to complain individually or collectively for non-compliance with the Convention. Again, the CEDAW Convention led to changing more unjust laws.
In 1993 the Vienna Declaration confirmed that Women’s Rights are Human Rights. IAW was very active at both the government and the NGO level in achieving this.
Meanwhile, the idea of ‘gender’ gained ground. In the Platform for Action of Beijing, the outcome document of the 4th World Women’s Conference in 1995, it was not yet a recognized term, but it was used in an Annex. Gender discrimination, as opposed to discrimination of women, means the discrimination caused by the way the roles of men and women are seen in different countries and different legal or custom-based systems, whereby women are usually worse off. Gender discrimination is hard to fight because it is often unconsciously perpetuated or so engrained that one doesn’t notice it. But our Justitia is not blind to it. Once again it was IAW at the forefront of women wanting Gender Equality as a stand-alone goal in the post-2015 Development Goals. Without women’s equality no justice is possible, human rights, which are universal, inalienable and indivisible, cannot be enjoyed.
The same is true for Civil Registration, to begin with Birth Registration.
Despite article 7 of the CRC which prescribes registration immediately after birth,
50 million children each year go unregistered. Without a birth certificate children are considered neither persons nor citizens and have no right to health care or schooling. When they grow up, they have no right to vote-and the vicious cycle continues.