Fulfilling the promises of dignity, protection and justice for all
by Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
Statement by the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect regarding the 75th anniversaries of the Genocide Convention and Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
On 9 and 10 December the international community will mark the 75th anniversary of two of the world’s most important global commitments: the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These landmark documents advanced a promise of dignity, protection and justice for all people for the first time.
Through the Declaration, the international community framed a set of fundamental human rights to be universally protected, providing a common global standard of freedom and equality for humanity.
Through the Genocide Convention, the international community defined and outlawed the crime of genocide, placing obligations on states to prevent such conscious-shocking acts.
Despite the convictions of “never again” that guided the creation of these two documents, throughout the past 75 years the international community has struggled to uphold universal human rights and prevent genocides and atrocities – from Cambodia, Rwanda, and Srebrenica, to Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Myanmar, China and elsewhere.
The international community has equally struggled to end impunity and ensure accountability for those who violate the principles and obligations codified in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention.
At the same time, situations of grave violations of human rights around the world – often perpetrated by states themselves and which serve as key early warning indicators of potential atrocity crimes – increasingly paralyze the international community in terms of both prevention and response.
The capacity of states and the international community to identify risks and rapidly respond is further exacerbated by growing global challenges such as climate change, artificial intelligence, and hate speech.
Civil society and affected populations, including survivor communities, have been resolute defenders of the rights and responsibilities set out in the Genocide Convention and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Through extensive documentation, advocacy, campaigning, demonstrations, lobbying, localized programming, capacity-building, human rights education, and countless other avenues, the work and efforts of civil society and affected populations have been critical in the realization of the protections and obligations enshrined in both documents.
Through international, national and local human rights movements, civil society and affected populations have consistently and robustly carried the torch of universal human rights and freedoms, speaking truth to power and demanding the promotion and protection of their enshrined civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
Even in the face of shrinking civic space as well as targeted violations and abuses against them, including attacks, threats, and harassment, civil society has remained resilient in working to ensure that the Genocide Convention and Universal Declaration of Human Rights are upheld without exception.
In this context, we urge all stakeholders to meaningfully support and engage with civil society and affected populations, including survivor communities, as critical partners in the fulfillment, realization and universalization of both the Genocide Convention and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The current global context demands an urgent recentralization of human rights and the rule of law – we urge all UN member states to recommit to the rights, protections and obligations enshrined in both documents.
We further encourage member states to strengthen their early warning systems for identifying risk factors for atrocities, as well as to implement comprehensive educational programs to promote understanding, respect, and adherence to the principles of both documents from an early age.
On the occasion of this historic anniversary, the international community must seize the momentum sustained by civil society and ensure that these solemn commitments are not simply abstract words but rather tangible acts that fulfill the promises of dignity, protection and justice for all.
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89,000 women and girls were killed intentionally in 2022
by UN Women, UNODC, agencies
The killings of women and girls represent the lethal end point of a continuum of gender-based violence, and they usually follow prior experiences of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
Nearly 89,000 women and girls were killed intentionally in 2022 across the globe, according a new research paper, “Gender-related killings of women and girls (femicide/feminicide)”, from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN Women.
This year's recorded figures are the highest yearly number of intentional killings of women and girls in the past two decades, and women and girls in all regions across the world are affected by this type of gender-based violence.
In 2022, 55 per cent of the intentional killings of women (around 48,800) were committed by intimate partners or other family members. This means that, on average, more than 133 women or girls were killed every day by someone in their own family.
“The alarming number of femicides is a stark reminder that humanity is still grappling with deep-rooted inequalities and violence against women and girls”, said Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC.
“Each life lost is a call to action—a plea to urgently address structural inequalities, to improve criminal justice responses, so that no woman or girl fears for her life. Governments must invest in institutions that are more inclusive and well-equipped to end impunity, strengthen prevention, and help victims, from frontline responders to the judiciary, to end the violence before it is too late.”
Women and girls in all regions experience this gender-based violence. For the first time since UNODC began publishing regional estimates in 2013, Africa surpassed Asia in 2022 as the region with the highest number of total victims (20,000). Africa also witnessed the highest number of victims relative to the size of its female population, although the estimates are subject to uncertainty due to limited data availability.
Femicides committed by intimate partners or family members in North America increased by 29 per cent between 2017 and 2022, in part due to improved recording practices.
* Globally significant data gaps remain and the published figures are considered a most conservative estimation of the true extent of the disturbing reality.
The urgency to end violence against women and girls has never been greater. UN Women's Gender Snapshot 2023 report reveals that 245 million women and girls continue to face physical and/or sexual violence from their intimate partners each year.
A staggering 86 per cent of women and girls live in countries without robust legal protections against violence, or in countries where data are not available.
Additionally, the impacts of economic crises, conflicts, and climate change have heightened the vulnerability of women and girls to violence.
Sima Bahous Executive Director of UN Women: "It is time to get serious and fund what we know works to stop violence against women and girls. Invest in reforming and implementing laws and multisectoral policies. Provide services to survivors. Scale up evidence-based prevention interventions.
With the will and contributions of all stakeholders and sectors, we can unlock financing, track budget allocations, and increase gender-responsive budgeting. We have the solutions to end violence against women and girls. It is our choice".
A strong and autonomous feminist movement is also a crucial part of the solution. Women's rights organizations play a pivotal role in preventing violence, advocating for policy change, and holding governments accountable.
However, they remain severely underfunded, and significant efforts are needed to increase financial support for women's rights organizations. UN Women is calling for increased long-term investments from states, private sector, foundations, and other donors to women's rights organizations working to end violence against women and girls in all their diversity.
http://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/press-release/2023/11/press-release-un-women-calls-for-bold-investments-to-end-violence-against-women-in-light-of-new-report-showing-prevention-is-severely-underfunded http://stories.undp.org/one-killing-every-11-minutes http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2023/11/gender-related-killings-of-women-and-girls-femicide-feminicide-global-estimates-2022
Violence against women and girls
Violence against women and girls is one of the world’s most prevalent human rights violations, taking place every day, many times over, in every corner of the globe. It has serious short and long-term physical, economic and psychological consequences on women and girls, preventing their full and equal participation in society.
The magnitude of its impact, both in the lives of individuals and families and society as a whole, is immeasurable.
Conditions created by humanitarian, health and environmental crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, and climate change have further intensified violence against women and girls, exacerbated existing challenges and generated new and emerging threats.
Intimate partner violence refers to behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours. This is one of the most common forms of violence experienced by women globally.
Intimate partner violence includes acts of physical violence, psychological violence such as fear by intimidation or forced isolation, and economic violence by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding access to money, and/or forbidding attendance at school or employment, among others.
Sexual violence is any sort of harmful or unwanted sexual behaviour that is imposed on someone. It includes acts of abusive sexual contact, attempted sexual acts with a woman without her consent, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, threats, unwanted touching.
Rape is any non-consensual penetration of a sexual nature of the body of another person with any bodily part or object, including through the use of physical violence and by putting the victim in a situation where they cannot say no or complies because of fear. This can be by any person known or unknown to the survivor.
Sexual violence in conflict:
Acts of violence against women include violation of the human rights of women in situations of armed conflict, such as systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy, as well as forced sterilization, female infanticide and prenatal sex selection.
Femicide is the intentional killing of a woman or a girl because she is a woman or a girl. The gender-related motivation of the killing may range from stereotyped gender roles, discrimination towards women and girls, to unequal power relations between women and men in society.
Gender-related killings of women and girls (femicide/feminicide) are the most extreme and brutal manifestation of violence against women. They can take place in a wide range of situations within the private and public spheres, and within different contexts of perpetrator–victim relationship.
They include for instance cases with previous record of physical, sexual, or psychological violence/harassment, killings occurring in situation of trafficking in persons, forced labour or slavery.
Gender-related killings can also include so-called honor killings, which are the murder of a family member, a woman or girl, for the purported reason that the person has brought dishonor or shame upon the family. These killings often have to do with sexual purity, and supposed transgressions on the part of female family members.
Human trafficking is a global crime that trades in people and exploits them for profit. Physical and sexual abuse, blackmail, emotional manipulation, and the removal of official documents are used by traffickers to control their victims. Exploitation can take place in a victim's home country, during migration or in a foreign country.
Human trafficking has many forms. While men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, women are the primary targets and girls are mainly trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is most often carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.
FGM has no health benefits and can lead to serious, long-term complications and even death. Immediate health risks include hemorrhage, shock, infection, HIV transmission, urine retention and severe pain.
Psychological impacts can range from a girl losing trust in her caregivers, to longer-term feelings of anxiety and depression. In adulthood, girls subjected to FGM are more likely to suffer infertility or complications during childbirth, including postpartum haemorrhage, stillbirth and early neonatal death.
Numerous factors contribute to the persistence of the practice. Yet in every society in which it occurs, FGM is an expression of deeply rooted gender inequality. In every form in which it is practiced, FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s fundamental human rights, including their rights to health, security and dignity.
Child, early and forced marriage
Child marriage is any marriage where at least one of the parties is under 18 years of age. Forced marriage is a marriage in which one and/or both parties have not personally expressed their full and free consent to the union. A child marriage is considered to be a form of forced marriage, given that one and/or both parties have not expressed full, free and informed consent.
It is widely recognized that child marriage is a violation of children’s rights and has several harmful effects on the lives of children (overwhelmingly girls), including early and frequent pregnancies, higher risks of maternal mortality and morbidity, limited decision-making in family matters and school dropout.
Online or technology-facilitated violence
Technology-facilitated violence against women is any act that is committed, assisted, aggravated, or amplified by the use of information communication technologies or other digital tools, that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological, social, political, or economic harm, or other infringements of rights and freedoms.
It can occur in online spaces, and it can be perpetrated offline through the use of technological means, such as controlling a woman’s whereabouts by using a GPS tracker.
Technology-facilitated gender-based violence exacerbates existing forms and patterns of violence against women, such as intimate-partner violence, and also comes with new forms of violence such as online stalking and image-based abuse through artificial intelligence like deepfake videos.
While all women and girls who are online or who use digital tools may face violence online, some groups are at greater risk. These include women who are most visible online, including women in public life, journalists, human rights defenders, politicians and feminist activists.
Online violence can include the following: Cyberbullying: involves sending intimidating or threatening messages. Non-consensual sexting: sending explicit messages or photos without the recipient’s consent. Doxing: public release of private or identifying information about the victim.
http://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/in-focus/2023/11/in-focus-16-days-of-activism-against-gender-based-violence http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/faqs/signs-of-abuse http://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/2023-09/progress-on-the-sustainable-development-goals-the-gender-snapshot-2023-en.pdf http://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2023/11/international-community-must-walk-talk-safety-and-security-women-and-girls-times http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women http://respect-prevent-vaw.org/ http://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-RHR-18.19 http://www.unfpa.org/thevirtualisreal http://www.unfpa.org/gender-based-violence
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