Hears Address by the United States’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations
GENEVA (6 June 2017) - The Human Rights Council this morning held a clustered interactive dialogue with Vitit Muntharbhorn, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. It also heard an address by Nikki Haley, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations.
Ms. Haley said that the United States was looking carefully at the Human Rights Council and its own engagement with this body. The United States was strongly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, which was deeply intertwined with peace and security. All United Nations bodies, including the Security Council, should seek to address human rights violations in their work. In this session, it was essential for the Council to adopt the strongest resolutions on the human rights situation in various countries. No country that was a human rights violator should have a seat at this table, Ms. Haley stressed.
Mr. Muntharbhorn, presenting his first thematic report, underlined the need to recognize that gender identity could be different from the gender assigned at birth. He recalled that, in many countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were still victims of torture, mistreatment, killing, harassment and bullying from a young age. Cultural and religious sensibilities had to be taken into account in order to raise awareness on sexual orientation discrimination. Promoting non-discriminant values in education and raising awareness were essential to put an end to disrespectful and hate attitudes.
Ms. Callamard said that a gender-based perspective on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killings, and the right to life more generally, exposed facts otherwise hidden, including the heightened vulnerability to killings, executions and arbitrary deprivation of life on the basis of one’s gender. A gender-sensitive perspective brought gender-based killings squarely within the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, and revealed the systemic discrimination that must be remedied for all people to enjoy equal rights. She spoke of her predecessor’s country visit to Honduras in May 2016.
Honduras spoke as a concerned country.
In the ensuing discussion on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, many speakers underscored the landmark nature of the Independent Expert’s mandate. They underscored that rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were not separate rights, but human rights ensured for all persons, emphasizing the intersectionality of violence and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. They asked the Independent Expert to elaborate on ways to foster constructive dialogue with a view to contributing to progress in laws and practice. Others underscored their continuing strong opposition tothe mandate, stating that mandate-holders had to respect historical, cultural, social and religious sensitivities.
On extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, some delegations underscored their agreement with the Special Rapporteur that extrajudicial and arbitrary executions could be performed by State and non-State actors and that in both cases, States bore the ultimate responsibility to protect the right to life of its citizens. They noted that it was crucial to integrate a gender perspective in all public policies. Speakers asked the Special Rapporteur to share good practices and the most important lessons learned from her study on gender-based violence in order to reduce this violence.
Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Chile on behalf of a group of countries, European Union, the Netherlands on behalf of the Equal Rights Coalition, Iceland on behalf of the Nordic countries, Sierra Leone, United States, Estonia, Greece, Austria, Czechia, Montenegro, Canada, Cuba, Belgium, Spain, Chile, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Philippines, Switzerland, Argentina, Malta, France, Slovenia, Venezuela, Brazil, Thailand, Colombia, Honduras, Latvia, Albania, Netherlands, Portugal, Israel, Liechtenstein, Tunisia, Costa Rica, United Nations Children’s Fund, Ecuador, Nigeria, Bolivia, Luxembourg, Georgia, Ireland, Lithuania, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Uruguay.
Also speaking was the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, as well as the following non-governmental organizations:
International Service for Human Rights, Alliance Defending Freedom, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Swedish Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Colombian Commission of Jurists, International Bar Association, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Action Canada for Population and Development, Franciscans International, United Nations Watch, Comision Mexicana, Asian Forum for human rights and development and Human Rights Watch.
The Council is holding a full day of meetings today. It will next hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Puras, and the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Virginia Dandan.