UN Human Rights Council Adopts “Traditional Rights” Resolution

Early in October, the UN Human Rights council passed a resolution called Promoting Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Through a Better Understanding of Traditional Values of Humankind, which will convene a workshop in 2010 to exchange views on how supporting traditional values can foster improved human rights. The “measure was adopted by a majority vote of 26 in support, 15 opposed, and 6 abstentions, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development reports.

The opposition, which included Mexico, the US, Chile, Norway, Maritius and Japan, voiced concern that the resolution did not provide a clear definition of “traditional values,” and that such language would encourage cultural relativism, according to RH Reality Check. Additionally, Moataz El Fegiery, Executive Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, told InfoSund Human Rights Tribune that the concept of traditional values “has been used in the Arab region to justify treating women as second class citizens, female genital mutilation, honor crimes, child marriage and other practices that clearly contradict with international human rights standards. Does this resolution now mean that such practices are acceptable under international law?” Some member states claimed that they supported the resolution with the understanding that they would not use the resolution to undermine human rights. However, RH Reality Check noted that none of the sponsors would reaffirm that their state would not have the right to invoke traditional values to oppose, avoid or limit their duty to protect and promote human rights.


UN Human Rights Council Resolution; Association for Women’s Rights in Development 10/5/09; RH Reality Check 10/15/09; InfoSud Human Rights Tribune 10/2/09

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