Women and Children Human Rights Council: The Right to a Nationality

From the State Department of the United States:

(July 9, 2012) Washington, D.C. — Only July 5, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, its members adopted by consensus a resolution on “The Right to a Nationality: Women and Children.” This resolution, which the United States led with Botswana, Colombia, Mexico, Iraq, Turkey, and Slovakia, aimed to address an important but under-recognized human right, the right to a nationality, with a specific focus on women and children. This is the first time that the Human Rights Council has addressed the issue of discriminatory nationality laws targeting women, which can lead to statelessness. In total, there were 49 co-sponsors supporting the resolution, with representation from every geographical region.

The resolution focused on the issues of protecting both a woman’s and a child’s right to a nationality, with the goal of reducing statelessness. The equal right to a nationality for women, including the ability to acquire and retain nationality and confer it on their children, reduces the likelihood that they will become stateless and vulnerable to serious harm. As many as 12 million people around the world are stateless. Without recognition as citizens by any government, stateless persons often lack access to legal employment, birth registration, marriage and property ownership, and face travel restrictions, all of which can increase the risk of exploitation and abuse, including forced migration and trafficking in persons.

While recognizing the right of each State to determine by law who its nationals are, the resolution urged States to refrain from enacting or maintaining discriminatory nationality legislation and to reform nationality laws that discriminate against women. Such actions would be consistent with States’ obligations under international law, including Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provide that everyone is entitled to the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration without distinction on the basis of sex. In this regard, the United States recalls our own history of seeking to achieve equal nationality rights for women.

The resolution also welcomed the increased efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to prevent and reduce statelessness among women and children, particularly in light of last year’s 50thanniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The resolution also called for free birth registration for every child.

This resolution supports the Secretary’s initiative to promote women’s equal right to nationality, which emphasizes that women’s rights are human rights.

Last month Jesuit Refugee Service officially signed on as a member of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict.


Are we moving fast enough in Haiti?

There will be a hearing of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, to be held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building (and available live, via the WEBCAST link on the Committee website at http://www.hcfa.house.gov):

DATE: Thursday, July 29, 2010
TIME: 9:30 a.m.
SUBJECT: The Crisis in Haiti: Are We Moving Fast Enough?

The Honorable Rajiv Shah


United States Agency for International Development

Panel II

Mr. Samuel A. Worthington

President and CEO


Mr. Jimmy Jean-Louis


Goodwill Ambassador

Pan American Development Foundation

Rep. Johnson calls on Colombian government to protect activist: “The world is watching”

WASHINGTON Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) dispatched Latin American affairs adviser Sascha Thompson to Colombia February 8-15 to participate in an international pre-electoral observation mission sponsored by the California-based non-governmental organization Global Exchange.

Ms. Thompson joined 22 public policy professionals, analysts and citizens of more than seven countries including the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and Mexico.

The mission was tasked with assessing the capacity of the Colombian electoral process to yield a fair, legitimate and democratic result. Their assessment relied upon information assembled from interviews with individuals in the Colombian government and Colombian civil society. The mission met with Colombian electoral officials, the National Electoral Council, the National Registry for Civil Status, local leaders, activists, prosecutors, officials from human rights ombudsman offices, and departmental governors.
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UN: migrants too often victims of human rights violations

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights marked International Migrants Day today by drawing attention to the plight of an estimated 200 million migrants worldwide, many of whom are exposed to violations of their basic rights and continue to be treated as commodities.

“Despite the increased efforts of the international community, including civil society, in promoting sound, equitable, humane and lawful conditions of migration, the human rights of migrants often remain out of sight,” Navi Pillay said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

UN human rights council to discuss Sri Lanka

IRIN reports today that

Human rights groups have welcomed a decision by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to address the condition of more than a quarter of a million conflict-displaced in Sri Lanka in a special session.

“This is an important opportunity to examine issues of accountability on both sides to the conflict and to ensure protection of displaced persons and their rights in the post-conflict transition,” Julie de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), told IRIN, one day before the session was due in Geneva.

On 25 May, the watchdog group said government restrictions on humanitarian access to government camps and to the wounded in the conflict area had worsened the already serious conditions.

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Pope calls for promotion of human rights

Zenit reports that Pope Benedict XVI is urging members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to defend and promote those “non-negotiable human rights” that are based in God’s law.

The Pope said this Monday in an audience with academy members, who are gathered in the Vatican through Tuesday for their plenary session, which is focused on the theme of Catholic social doctrine and human rights.

The Pontiff underlined the Church’s stance that “fundamental rights, above and beyond the different ways in which they are formulated and the different degrees of importance they may have in various cultural contexts, are to be upheld and accorded universal recognition because they are inherent in the very nature of man, who is created in the image and likeness of God.”

Read the full story on Zenit here.