Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Resolution on 'Protection of the Family' withdrawn...for now

The resolution on ‘Protection of the Family’ was NOT adopted at the Human Rights Council on Monday. It was withdrawn by the sponsors. The sponsors framed their withdrawal as postponing consideration to a later stage.

It is telling that the fear of introduction of language on the existence of “various forms of the family” into the text during action on the resolution caused this withdrawal/postponment. The language that would have formed the introduced amendment is agreed consensus UN language which has been used again and again. The EU and GRULAC groups and a number of States including Switzerland, the US, Australia and New Zealand stood firm in insisting that this language be included in the text. A number of other States from different regions stood ready to support the introduction previously mentioned.

Egypt took the floor to introduce the resolution and announce its withdrawal on behalf of the core group, comprising of Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The resolution had 72 co-sponsors including the Arab and OIC groups, Angola, Kenya, Botswana, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sri Lanka and many others.

They began by framing the subject in terms of Art 16 of the UDHR and said that there is a lack of definition of the family, that there are differences between societies. That the focus on individual rights has resulted in neglect of the family and group and collective rights. That there is no resolution or treaty which deals with the protection of the family in human rights law in comprehensive manner. His statement failed to define what the family needed protection from.

They spoke of the need to openly discuss the issue so as to address state obligations to protect the family under relevant provisions of international human rights law.  A discussion that would allow for the exchange of views and lessons learned and allow the Council to identify implementation gaps and possibly shed some light on how to tackle them. Hence this procedural resolution.

Their statement was very hard-lined and combative. They claimed to have approached consultations with an open mind and accused other States of holding pre-conceived notions and pushing divisive substantive issues. They also said that it seems that the Council has not yet reached the level of maturity that would enable it to engage in delicate issues in a cooperative matter, and announced that they were postponing consideration of the text. Despite what you might hear to the contrary, the Egyptian representative did not stamp his feet, burst into tears or storm out.

While we should see this withdrawal/postponement as a victory, it may be one we should celebrate quickly, as it is likely to be short lived. It is not unlikely that they will seek to reintroduce the resolution in June, in what is already being viewed as a highly contentious session with resolutions expected on sexual orientation and gender identity, and violence against women, to name but two.

= Source: CSW57 Women's Rights Caucus =