The Countering Human Rights Regression and UN Capture programme area focuses on strengthening the CEDAW process as an important strategic space to resist the capture of the UN system by engaging in treaty body reform and mobilising women’s rights organisations to actively engage with the human rights system and reaffirm its value. This means organising, mobilising and building political knowledge and analysis with women’s groups to demand accountability from state and non-state actors in respect of gender equality and women’s human rights.
International human rights norms are increasingly being rejected by government actors; ‘state sovereignty’ is cited as sufficient reason for their actions, even as discrimination against the more vulnerable members of the population goes unchecked. In certain contexts, legitimate criticisms of colonialism and Western imperialism are similarly weaponised in order to perpetuate injustice in the national context. At the United Nations, states with especially poor human rights records see to it that resolutions are limited in their scope, while delayed payments of dues by member states result in periods of financial insecurity for the OHCHR, with negative repercussions for the treaty bodies.
We recognise that the determinants of human rights recognition by states are multi-pronged, encompassing pressure from domestic advocacy as well as pressure from the global community and the UN. There is a critical need to make the multilateral system for human rights more accountable and more responsive to the needs of women and girls, while creating the drivers and environment for progressive political and societal change on gender equality.