ORAL STATEMENT

15 June 2010

Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights (MFHR)*

Inter-African Committee (IAC)*

Interfaith International*

International Alliance of Women (IAW)*

International Council of Women (ICW)*

International Educational Development, Inc. (IED)*

Item 8. Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and

Programme of Action

Traditional values and practices versus women's rights

            I refer to the written statement A/HRC/14/NGO/52 of MFHR. We wish to remind the Council of the engagement States undertook in the Vienna Declaration to eradicate "any conflicts which may arise between the rights of women and the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices".

            We take note of Council resolution 12/21 on "Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of human kind" in which it calls on the High Commissioner to convene in 2010 a workshop for an exchange of ideas on traditional values underpinning human rights norms and to present to the Council a summary of the discussions.

            But Mr. Chairman, advancing "traditional values" may have a certain negative effect on the campaign against such practices as sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence and female genital mutilation.

           

            We call on the Council to:

  • Reconsider its Resolution 12/21 in order to avoid legitimizing, directly or indirectly, harmful traditional practices, and introducing cultural relativism;
  • Adopt a Resolution reminding States of their international obligations to address effectively all traditional practices resulting in violations of women's rights, making it crystal clear that traditional values may not be invoked to justify human rights violations and advancing only those values that are consistent with individual human rights law; and
  • Direct the Special Rapporteur on violence against women to study the link between traditional values that legitimize harmful practices and the violation of women's rights.

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* The above NGOs enjoy consultative status with the UN (ECOSOC)