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HRC51 Joint Statement: Biennial panel discussion on the right to development

Thank you, President. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative and International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.

We welcome the Human Rights Council’s efforts to advance in the operationalization of the Right to Development and the progress made by the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development in crystallizing this human right through a binding instrument. The Draft Convention on the Right to Development rightfully recognizes that eliminating discrimination against all women and girls is crucial to ensure their full and equal enjoyment of the right to development.

We reiterate that it is essential for the Convention’s framework  to address global inequality and power differentials from a feminist perspective and incorporate a deeper analysis on systemic oppression into our understanding the right to development. Fulfilling the right for women and girls requires states to end privatization and financialization of public services, cancel debt, unilateral coercive measures and aid conditionalities and ensure participation of feminists from the Global South. 

We note with consternation Global North states’ that inaccurate and harmful analyses on gender, used to restrict rights and disregard abuses based on gender and sexuality, have gained traction within the Right to Development arena. Virtually all references to gender equality, and gender more broadly, have been eliminated from the Draft Convention in its latest round of revisions. This was based on spurious arguments stating that the use of the term ‘gender’ serves to curtail the rights of women and girls, and that human rights law does not recognize gender identity and sexual orientation.
It is imperative that UN human rights bodies and mechanisms adopt an intersectional approach that addresses root causes of discrimination at both the systemic levels and for every individual by addressing systems of oppression: patriarchy, racism and capitalism.
We ask the panelists: how to eradicate all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination to ensure the full and equal enjoyment of the right to development of all, without leaving anyone behind?