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International human rights monitoring mechanisms and systemic advocacy Therese Sands Executive Director, Leadership Team People with Disability Australia.

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Presentation on theme: "International human rights monitoring mechanisms and systemic advocacy Therese Sands Executive Director, Leadership Team People with Disability Australia."— Presentation transcript:

1 International human rights monitoring mechanisms and systemic advocacy Therese Sands Executive Director, Leadership Team People with Disability Australia September 2011

2 Overview of the mechanisms (1) Reports to the United Nations’ (UN) Treaty Bodies:  Government Reports on each Treaty (every four years)  NGO Shadow Reports on each Treaty Treaty bodies: Human Rights Committee (Covenant on Civil & Political Rights) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

3 Overview of the mechanisms (2) Reports to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC):  Universal Periodic Review (UPR) - Newest UN human rights mechanism (2006) - Conducted by HRC member countries (peer review) - Government Report on human rights situation in their country (20 pages) - National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) Report - NGO UPR Report (5 pages)

4 Overview of the mechanisms (3) Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council (HRC)  mechanism to address specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world  33 thematic and 8 country mandates  ‘Special Rapporteur’, ‘Independent Expert’, ‘Working Group’  undertake country visits or seek clarification on issues  Report to the HRC on findings

5 Opportunities for engagement (1) UN Treaty Body Reporting Processes:  Government report - consultations  NGO Shadow report working group / consultations  Pre-sessional UN Committee meetings and Questions  NGO delegation to UN: - lobbying Committee members - making formal Statement to the Committee  Constructive Dialogue  Concluding Comments

6 Opportunities for engagement (2) Universal Periodic Review (Australia January 2011)  NGO Working Group – range of human rights groups  Government report – comment  Liaison with Australian Human Rights Commission  Preparation of report – identify key issues  Development of specific themed factsheets (lobby documents)  Presentation to Foreign Missions in Australia  NGO delegation to UN: - lobbying HRC members / countries on specific issues  UPR recommendations  Government response to the recommendations

7 Domestic advocacy using UN recommendations Evidence-based advocacy tools – argument credibility (media releases / submissions / training / representations to Governments /report card comparison / complaints) Planning tools – prioritise key issues for organisational focus, advocacy planning and ‘test case’ complaints Resources – guidance on key issues; and guidance on how issues are framed in terms of human rights; analysis of budget processes; election platforms; funding allocations Data collection and analysis - reframe / capture data in terms of human rights not service compliance (consistency across agencies and jurisdictions). Case studies – capturing human rights stories

8 Case Study – Sterilisation (1) Late 1990s / early 2000s: disability advocacy and reports (HREOC) - response to Marion’s case and incidences of unlawful sterilisation 2003 – Joint Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) - working group to consider national, uniform legislation for the authorisation of minors with disability - submissions made to SCAG 2005 – Australia reviewed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child - PWD participates on NGO Shadow Report Group and provides information on sterilisation for NGO report.

9 Case Study – Sterilisation (2) 2005 – UN CRC Committee Concluding Comments “The Committee also notes that a Governmental Working Group is addressing the issue of sterilization of children with so called “decision making” disabilities… Conclusion: “prohibit the sterilization of children, with or without disabilities, and promote and implement other measures of prevention of unwanted pregnancies, e.g. injection of contraceptives, when appropriate”. (paragraphs 45 and 46)

10 Case Study – Sterilisation (3) UN CRC Committee conclusion used to support advocacy - letters, media, submissions, meetings and representations – PWD member of CEDAW Shadow Report Working Group and NGO delegation to UN CEDAW Committee review of Australia – SCAG releases Children with Intellectual Disabilities (Regulation of Sterilisation) Bill UN CRPD Committee conclusion included in submissions opposing Bill. - Draft CRPD Article 7, Children with Disabilities also used to support submission.

11 Case Study – Sterilisation (4) CRPD adopted; 2008 – CRPD ratified by Australia 2008 – SCAG removes the issue of national, uniform legislation for the authorisation of sterilisation from its agenda: - number of reported sterilisations appears to be significantly less - doctors and hospitals have a better and understanding of their legal obligations - alternatives to surgical procedures to manage menstruation and contraceptive needs of women are increasingly available - existing processes in each jurisdiction appear to be working adequately - limited benefit in developing model legislation

12 Case Study – Sterilisation (5) 2010 – Australia reviewed by UN CEDAW Committee: - PWD participates on NGO Shadow Report Group and provides information on sterilisation for NGO report (arguments supported by CRC Committee Concluding Comments; CRPD Article 6, Women with disabilities; and Article 23, Respect for the home and the family) - Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) has a representative on the NGO delegation

13 Case Study – Sterilisation (6) 2010 – UN CEDAW Committee Concluding Comments: “The Committee also notes with concern that non-therapeutic sterilizations of women and girls with disabilities continue to be practiced in some states in Australia and notes that the Commonwealth Government considers this to be a matter for state governments to regulate”. Conclusion: “The Committee recommends that the State party enact national legislation prohibiting, except where there is a serious threat to life or health, the use of sterilisation of girls, regardless of whether they have a disability, and of adult women with disabilities in the absence of their fully informed and free consent”. (paragraph 42 and 43)

14 Case Study – Sterilisation (7) 2011 – Universal Periodic Review of Australia - PWD participates on NGO Working Group - PWD provides information to NGO delegation in Geneva during lobbying UPR Working Group Draft Report Recommendations: “Comply with the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women concerning the sterilization of women and girls with disabilities” (Denmark);

15 Case Study – Sterilisation (8) “Enact national legislation prohibiting the use of non-therapeutic sterilisation of children, regardless of whether they have a disability, and of adults with disability without their informed and free consent” (United Kingdom); “Repeal all legal provisions allowing sterilization of persons with disabilities without their consent and for non-therapeutic reasons” (Belgium); “Abolish non-therapeutic sterilization of women and girls with disabilities” (Germany).

16 Case Study – Sterilisation (9) Australian Government Response: accepted-in-part “the Attorney-General intends to initiate further discussions with State and Territory counterparts.” Ongoing advocacy pressure using UPR, CEDAW and CRC recommendations: - discussions with Attorney-General’s department - meetings with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) - engagement in dialogue with advocacy activities at the international level AHRC publicly announced its position (same as NGO position)


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