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GA 68 Panel on Traditional Values-Culture-Womens Rights

UN General Assembly Session 68 - Panel


See 68th GA Side Events Flyer
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Concept Paper
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Instruments and Structures, Special Procedures Mandate Holders, and Treaty Bodies, have published multiple texts that emphasize the importance of ensuring that "traditional values" are not elevated above universal human rights standards. They have highlighted the use of such terms to justify the marginalization of minority groups and for maintaining gender-based inequalities, discrimination and violence, and the corresponding need to position these terms within a human rights context.
Resolutions have been considered at the Human Rights Council in Geneva as on:

 Promoting Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Through a Better Understanding of Traditional Values of Humankind: Best Practices 
The Resolution, however, assumes that “traditional values” inevitably make a positive contribution to human rights, but there is no recognition in the resolution that “traditional values” are frequently invoked to justify human rights violations, and very much regarding women and girls. 
In this Panel, we hope to have substantive presentations and discourse on concerns “traditional values” may be invoked to excuse violations of right of women, minorities, and other vulnerable groups. 
The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee made a Study on Promoting Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms through a Better Understanding of Traditional Values of Humankind.
 Report Excerpts: 
*There is no agreed definition on the term "traditional values of humankind.
 *Traditions are so varied and complex that, while some traditions comply with human rights norms and contribute to their promotion and protection, others undermind or are in conflict with them. As seven Special Procedures Mandate Holders underlined in a joint statement, issues of culture and tradition must be addressed within a human rights framework.
 *Cultural diversity...can only thrive in an environment that safeguards fundamental freedoms and human rights, which are universal, indivisible, interconnected, and interdependent.
 *Although human rights have been for many years recognized as universal, inalienable, and indivisible according to many international human rights instruments, their realization has faced obstacles, especially in certain areas where the population continues to live according to traditions and customs and often in conditions of poverty and deprivation. Regional, cultural, and religious specificities that are consistent with universal human rights may be instrumental in promoting the awareness, acceptability and implementation of human rights in diverse local contexts. This must not, however, prejudice the responsibilities of States to promote, protect and fulfil universal human rights at the country and international level.
 *Dialogue, inclusive with women and men, girls and boys, with respect, can enhance positive customs and diverse paths of development and be an important step towards preserving cultural diversity in our world, preventing conflict, and ensuring the universal application of human rights. 
Women and girls are often victimized by vested interest interpretations of culture, traditions, and even religions. The inequalities of women and girls manifest their challenges for protections of rights, security, and justice. We advocate to eliminate the negative stereotypes and harmful and discriminatory practices justified against women and girls by some traditional values and cultures, and to recognize that human rights must be above all defended, protected, and enforced for women and girls, and all of humankind. 
This Panel will include presentations and an opportunity for respectful audience discourse. A key feature of the Panel will be the Statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, on Traditional Values, Culture - Women's Human Rights. Her Statement will be read, it was first presented at a program at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in May of 2013; and she has encouraged.