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Call of the Europe and North America NGO caucus to the national delegations of the Commission on the Status of Women

[New York, 14 March 2014] While we are discussing “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”, some countries are trying to undermine women’s and girls’ human rights and security by using the notion of sovereignty to exempt themselves from their obligations to protect women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health, rights and services.

Last year’s CSW Conclusions were explicit that the Programme of Action at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) is an international commitment for all Member States, which must respect and promote sexual and reproductive health, rights and services. Last year’s Conclusions also made it clear that no custom, tradition or religious consideration can be invoked to support acts of violence against women and girls: it is the duty of States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Any CSW should take into account all women and girls, in particular the most vulnerable and/or marginalised ones. Women and girls’ multiple identities need to be understood and addressed through an intersectional perspective including factors such as gender, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, health (including pregnancy and HIV/Aids), civil status, citizenship, nationality, housing, migration status, age (taking into account every stage of life), disability, class, income, language, geographical location (rural areas, conflict zones).

One year before the celebration of the 20 years of the Beijing Platform for Action, we won’t accept any negotiation on women’s and girls’ human rights and security.

The Caucus calls on all Member States to stop invoking and condoning any custom, tradition or religious considerations which undermine women’s and girls’ human rights and security, and ensure a consistent protection of women’s and girls’ human rights and security throughout the world, with no exception, and stop harmful practices that erode universally recognised international human rights. The realisation of the commitments cannot be conditioned to the sovereignty of Member States and their various cultural and religious backgrounds.

The Caucus calls on all Member States to including all grounds of discrimination, vulnerability and marginalisation as a crucial condition for addressing the multiple forms of discrimination and violence that many women and girls face.

All UN member states have a duty to respect the UN human rights instruments, with no exception.
Therefore, the Caucus calls on paragraph 25ter and the second part of paragraph (b) to be deleted.

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