GQUAL Campaign: 2019 achievements on gender equality and opportunities for 2020

During 2019, GQUAL carried out a very extensive and successful agenda, which resulted in important gains for moving towards gender parity in international justice. Some highlights of our work are described below. For a full report of activities see here.

Launched in September 2015, GQUAL is a global campaign to achieve gender parity in the composition of international tribunals and monitoring bodies. Data available on GQUAL’s website shows that the underrepresentation of women continues to exist across almost all international bodies in charge of imparting international justice.

As part of its goal to develop international standards, as well as good practices for national and international selection procedures that include gender as criteria for the appointment and selection of candidates, GQUAL embarked in several successful initiatives that included:

Adoption of Human Rights’ Council Resolution

GQUAL worked with the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women (WG) and the Mission of Mexico in Geneva to develop language for a Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution promoting gender balance in UN bodies. GQUAL’s efforts were successfully translated in Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/41/L.6 on the “Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls.” This landmark resolution acknowledges for the first time the lack of gender balance in UN treaty bodies and special procedures, and calls upon States, the UN and other international organizations to promote gender balance in the composition of international organs at all levels. In particular, the Resolutions calls upon states to develop better procedures at the national level to take gender as a consideration for the appointment and election of candidates, and the OHCHR to deepen their efforts to promote women candidacies.

Additionally, the Resolution calls on the HRC Advisory Committee to draft a report, in consultation with CEDAW and the WG, and including the input of States and other relevant stakeholders, to systematize good practices and recommendations for increasing gender representation in international bodies. As part of the first step towards the preparation of the report, the HRC Advisory Committee has posted a call for inputs and views (now extended), which includes a questionnaire for stakeholders to submit information. This provides a unique opportunity for civil society, academia and other interested parties, to submit information and proposals that contribute to improve selection procedures and to realize women’s right to equality in UN bodies.

Adoption of OAS General Assembly Resolution on criteria for the selection of members of the IA Commission and Court

For the fourth straight year, in 2019 GQUAL proposed language and advocated for a resolution at the Organization for American States (OAS) addressing the need for selection procedures at the national and regional level for the appointment of judges at the Inter-American Court and members of the Commission. AG/RES. 2941 (XLIX-O/19) Resolution, approved by the OAS General Assembly in June 2019, underlines the need of achieving better gender balance in these bodies.

Briefings before the WG and CEDAW

Both the WG and CEDAW play a fundamental role in developing legal standards on the obligation to promote gender parity in international representation and monitoring State’s compliance with this obligation.

– In June 2019, GQUAL briefed the members of the WG on a research conducted by the Campaign regarding the WG’s practice on issues of parity and representation. Also, in the briefing, both parties explored avenues for collaboration.

– Additionally, in July 2019 GQUAL conducted a private briefing to the CEDAW Committee during its 73th sessions in Geneva. GQUAL presented the results of research conducted by the Campaign on the Committee’s jurisprudence regarding gender parity in international bodies and called on the Committee to develop standards under article 8 of the CEDAW Convention and issue recommendations to States.

Submission of position paper to the UN treaty bodies strengthening process

In April 2019, GQUAL submitted a position paper to the OHCHR as part of a call to provide inputs to the human rights treaty body strengthening process launched in 2014 through UN General Assembly Resolution 68/268. Inputs were sought to enrich the UN Secretary General report to be published in January 2020, in anticipation of the state review process starting in April 2020.

GQUAL’s position paper adds a unique focus on gender, by highlighting the importance of reviewing nomination and selection procedures and practices and adopting measures to achieve gender parity in the composition of human rights treaty bodies.

Participation in events

Additionally, to amplify knowledge and networks, in 2019 GQUAL participated in the following events:

Women Delivering Justice: Investing in Women Justice Professionals for the Achievement of the 2030 Agenda, side event during the Commission on the Status of Women (#CSW63) with IDLO and International Association of Women Judges Link to video
Event organized by the Commission of Judiciary and Political Affairs of the OAS to discuss good practices for the nomination and elections of members to the IACHR and Court and the text of a resolution to be discussed by the OAS General Assembly,
Gender Parity in UN human rights bodies and mechanisms, side event to the 41st Human Rights Council Session in Geneva, with the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), and Women@theTable.
Panel Discussion on Accelerating Gender Equality – 42nd Human Rights Council Session in Geneva. The panel discussion was part of a series of Meeting organized annually by the OHCHR. The objective of this session was to discuss the recently adopted HRC Resolution A/HRC/41/L.6, which addresses, inter alia, gender balance in international court and was promoted and drafted by the GQUAL Campaign.

2020 will be a busy year for the campaign. The HRC Resolution opened an important opportunity to develop guidelines and recommendations that can improve international selection processes and ensure that more women are nominated and elected. There will also be important elections both at the UN and at regional systems. We invite you all to check the upcoming elections here, and to contact us to learn more about our plans and actions.


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