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Proudly Pushing the Global Sexual Rights Agenda

by Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights-- pour la sante et les droit sexuels
Proudly Pushing the Global Sexual Rights Agenda
Proudly Pushing the Global Sexual Rights Agenda
Proudly Pushing the Global Sexual Rights Agenda
Proudly Pushing the Global Sexual Rights Agenda
Intersectionality side event panel
Intersectionality side event panel

The 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from June 24 to July 12, 2019.
Sexual Rights Initiative staff made a video about WHY this session is so important. You don't need to be a Facebook member to view, but if you are please like our page to stay in touch more often. Click here to watch the clip.

The newsletter covering the resolutions, language achievements and challenges, can be found on the SRI website here

The SRI's side event, Intersectionality as Politics and Practice, explored how intersectionality theory and practice has been used by state and non-state actors within human rights spaces of the United Nations. The panel discussion can be watched via Facebook video, we are new to using this medium so please ff to 8:30 minutes to get started with the important and relevant content of the panel. Apologies to Dipika for missing a portion of opening remarks. 

The Sexual Rights Initiative will continue to proudly push for global sexual rights at the upcoming Human Rights Council Session 42 (September 9-27, 2019). 

Thank you for your continued support!  

Expected resolutions relevant to HRC 41
Expected resolutions relevant to HRC 41


The 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from February 25th to March 22rd, 2019. All of which the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) was engaged with during the session. 

For the first time, the Human Rights Council recognizes ‘the rights to bodily integrity and autonomy’ in a resolution.

Language on the ‘right to sexual and reproductive health’ included in a resolution for the third session in a row

For the first time, the Human Rights Council recognizes ‘the rights to bodily integrity and autonomy’ in a resolution.

Language on the ‘right to sexual and reproductive health’ included in a resolution for the third session in a row

The Sexual Rights Initiative, the Center for Reproductive Rights, CREA, Women Enabled International, ARROW, the Coalition of African Lesbians, Akahatá, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, and the Federation for Women and Family Planning applaud South Africa’s leadership in bringing forth a resolution on discrimination against women and girls in sports that directly addresses the human rights violations arising from the intersections of racism and harmful gender norms. We also welcome the Human Rights Council resolution on rights of the child, but regret the Human Rights Council’s inability to recognize the autonomy, legal capacity and right to non-discrimination of children with disabilities, including to ensure that their sexual and reproductive rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Click here to read the full statement.


Please read our newsletter to get more in-depth information on some of the key sexual rights related:

Thank you for your continued support of this important work! 


The Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) is a coalition of national and regional organizations from all parts of the world with an office in Geneva that has been advocating for the advancement of human rights in relation to gender and sexuality at the UN Human Rights Council since 2006. Thank you for supporting this work. 

The SRI is committed to the right of every person to sexual and reproductive health and well-being, bodily autonomy, and the right to have control over and to make free and informed decisions on all matters related to sexuality, reproduction and gender, free from violence and discrimination.

The SRI regularly engages on a wide variety of sexual rights issues including (but not limited to):

  • Bodily autonomy
  • Comprehensive rights-based sexuality education
  • Criminalization and other restrictions on safe abortion
  • Early and forced marriage
  • Gender based violence and discrimination
  • HIV/AIDS and human rights
  • Intersectional discrimination
  • Maternal mortality & morbidity
  • Patriarchal gender norms
  • Rights of sex workers
  • Sexual rights of adolescents and young people
  • Universal access to sexual and reproductive health information, education, supplies and services
  • Violence and discrimination based on the exercise of one’s sexuality including sex outside of marriage

Examples of our achievements: 

  • Collaborated with hundreds of local and regional activists to consistently raise sexual rights at the Human Rights Council;
  • Integrally involved in the Human Rights Council’s decision to take up the issue of maternal mortality, which recognizes maternal mortality and morbidity as a human rights matter;
  • Over the first two Universal Periodic Review cycles, the SRI submitted 160 reports, all of them in association with local/national organizations or activists, and addressing a wide variety of sexual rights issues;
  • Developed innovative digital tools to enhance sexual rights advocacy including the Sexual Rights Law and Policy DatabaseUN Resources Tool and the Sexual Rights UPR database;
  • Successfully advocated for the first ever UN resolution references to comprehensive sexuality education, adultery, marital rape, prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender, intimate partner violence and many other substantive language gains related to sexual rights:
  • Worked to ensure that the Human Rights Council explicitly included sexual and reproductive health within in the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health;
  • In the Human Rights Council’s institution building phase, played a vital role to ensure governments paid attention to thematic protection gaps in the system of special procedures.

The 31st session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held at the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, from 5-16 November 2018. Fourteen countries were reviewed during UPR31: Belize, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Congo, Jordan, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Senegal. Read more about UPR31 Sexual Rights Recommendations from our newsletter here.

The UPR34 submission deadline is March 28, 2019 for the following countries: Italy, El Salvador, Gambia, Bolivia, Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Who We Are
Who We Are

The Human Rights Commission was Created in 2006 to replace the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Council is the foremost international body for the promotion and protection of human rights and can be used to bring substantial pressure on governments to take steps to implement human rights norms. The Human Rights Council is comprised of governments of countries that are members of the United Nations and is an important venue to develop and advance sexual rights as a critical part of the international human rights framework.

As promised, the Sexual Rights Initiative continues to boldly push forward the sexual and reproductive health agenda within the UN framework and support country advocates addressing human rights. Please find below some of the high level information about our recent and upcoming efforts with links to more in depth information.


The 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council will take place from September 10-28, 2018. 

We have information about the anticipated sexual-rights related resolutions, panels and reports, UPR outcomes, and parallel events taking place during the 38th session.

Read all the details, reports, and side events in our newsletter.

Request for Sign-On: HRC39 Joint NGO Statement on Abortion Rights

In support of the September 28 “Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion” Sexual Rights Initiative, Center for Reproductive Rights, Ipas, the Asia-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, the Youth Coalition for Sexual Health and Rights and the Swedish Association for Sexuality and Education have developed a joint statement on abortion rights for delivery at the upcoming 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The focus of this year’s statement is on abortion right defenders (including service providers) and abortion stigma. This initiative builds on last year’s successful joint CSO statement to the Council when over 285 organizations signed on to the statement and we hope even more organizations across movements will voice their support this year!

Unfortunately, the UN will not accept endorsements by individuals. If you are not affiliated with an organization, you can show your support by helping to disseminate the statement far and wide.

Click here to access the letter (English, French, Spanish, Russian) and more information for organizations.


Sexual Rights Initiative Side Event

Regional Developments in Abortion Law & Policy Reform

13 September, 13:00-14:30, Room XXV

In support of the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, panelists will highlight regional developments in abortion law and policy reform, shed light on regional commonalities and differences that have led to change, and illustrate the ways in which different stakeholders have used human rights law to develop innovative strategies to advance the right to access safe and legal abortion in their region.

Rakshya Paudyal, Beyond Beijing Committee
Victoria Pedrido, Akahata
Krystyna Kacpura, Federation for Women and Family Planning
Varyanne Sika, Coalition of African Lesbians
Maeve Taylor, Irish Family Planning Association 

Click for more information »



Outcomes from the 30th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will be adopted during this session of the HRC. The 30th session of the UPR was held in May 2018.

Fourteen countries were reviewed: Turkmenistan, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Colombia, Uzbekistan, Tuvalu, Germany, Djibouti, Canada, Bangladesh, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Cuba

SRI collaborated with organizations and individuals in preparing five reports for four countries:

CANADA: SRI, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
Topics: abortion, comprehensive sexuality education, sex work.
Click here to read the submission »

CANADA: SRI, Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform
Topics: criminalization of sex work, human rights of Indigenous women, migrants, trans persons, persons who use drugs, discrimination, violence, trafficking.
Click here to read the submission »

BANGLADESH: SRI, Right Here Right Now Platform
Topics: young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, comprehensive sexuality education, unsafe abortions, early and child marriage, health services for youth with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, gender inequality, gender based violence, youth friendly health services, maternal mortality.
Click here to read the submission »

CAMEROON: SRI, Coalition of African Lesbians, African Sex Workers Alliance
Topics: criminalization of sex work, sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV, discrimination, violence.
Click here to read the submission »

COLOMBIA: SRI, Equipo Colombiano de Investigación en Conflicto y Paz
Topics: women, lesbians, bisexuality, peasants, Raizal community, Palenquero community, Indigenous, sexual and patriarchal violence, armed conflict, racial violence, ethnic violence, class violence, structural violence, historical discrimination. 
Click here to read the submission in Spanish »


Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with real-time advocacy in action. 

Speaking up for sexual and reproductive rights!
Speaking up for sexual and reproductive rights!


Question Period - Canada
Question Period - Canada's Record Under Review

Canada had its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations.

What is the UPR? It is a UN human rights process where each country’s human rights record is reviewed by other UN members, and it was Canada’s turn. The UPR is a powerful tool to hold governments accountable for sexual and reproductive rights violations, and to advocate for change.

Sexual and reproductive rights are human rights. Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights worked tirelessly to prepare for Canada’s review, ensuring that violations of sexual and reproductive rights were raised. We prepared a report on Canada’s track record focusing on unequal abortion access, lack of comprehensive sexuality education, and the criminalization of sex work. We spent weeks visiting embassies here in Canada to ensure that UN member states would raise our issues during Canada’s UPR Review.

Canada now has until September to decide which recommendations it will accept or reject. Last week in advance of the UPR Parliamentarians across parties, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, rose in Parliament to declare that abortion is a right.

Click here to read our report for Canada’s UPR Review

Because of our advocacy work, this is the first UPR review in which Canada received recommendations related to sexual and reproductive health and rights! 

Here’s what countries are asking Canada to do: 

  • Ensure equal access to abortion
  • Ensure equal access to comprehensive sexuality education across provinces and territories
  • Support programs to advance gender equality and prevent gender-based violence
  • Step up measures to address systemic discrimination against LGBTQ2SI people and communities
  • Take steps to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of forced sterilization
  • Ensure universal access to health care

Click here for the full list of UPR30 sexual rights recommendations for all countries under review. 

Sexual Right Recommendations at UPR30

The 30th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held at the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, from 7-18 May 2018.

Fourteen countries were reviewed during UPR30: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan.

The UPR outcome for each State reviewed during UPR30 will be adopted at the 39th session of the HRC (September 2018). The outcome report indicates which recommendations the State agrees to implement and its responses to other recommendations. This is the only opportunity for civil society to make an oral statement during the official UPR process. The SRI, in collaboration with partners and allies, will work to ensure that sexual and reproductive rights are visible during this segment of the UPR process.

The intervening period is an opportunity to engage in dialogue with States on accepting relevant recommendations – and, at the same time, not accepting those recommendations that are inconsistent with human rights norms and standards. It is also a means for gaining the support of media and the general public.

Below are some sexual rights related highlights from each UPR30 review. Click here for the full list of recommendations made related to sexual rights, including State responses to date.



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