Letter to Prime Minister Harper on HRC Resolution on Violence against Women

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., MP
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:

We, the undersigned organizations and women’s human rights defenders, are deeply concerned regarding Canada’s actions during the ongoing 23rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), which have weakened the annual HRC resolution on violence against women. As it stands now, the resolution fails to reflect the views of many governments and civil society organizations regarding the crucial linkages between sexual and reproductive health and rights issues and the resolution theme of “sexual violence.”

In the past, the Government of Canada has taken a leadership role in seeking to create advances to protect women from violence, as recent as April 11, 2013 when Canada pledged $5 million to G8 efforts targeting sexual violence in conflict zones.

The approach to the new resolution has been regressive. It represents a serious attack on women’s rights and the health and wellbeing of survivors of sexual violence. The Government of Canada has used its role as chair of the negotiations to block commitment to provide access to a comprehensive package of services that are essential to survivors of sexual violence. Numerous governments and civil society organizations insist that these services must explicitly include: access to essential sexual and reproductive health services including emergency contraception, safe abortion (including review of laws that restrict access to abortion in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape), post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV infection, and diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. In addition to this, the Canadian government has blocked the inclusion of references to critical prevention strategies, including providing comprehensive sexuality education to adolescents, which challenge gender stereotypes and norms and promote gender equality, therefore contributing to eliminating all forms of gender-based violence, stigma and discrimination.

Blocking references to the full realization of women’s human rights, by refusing to secure the access of survivors of sexual violence to essential sexual and reproductive health services, constitutes not only a troubling departure from Canadian law but also legally-binding international treaties to which Canada is a party, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Moreover, this position alienates Canada’s traditional allies, who continue to express grave concern regarding Canada’s failure to recognize the linkages between sexual and reproductive health and rights and sexual violence.

In addition to concerns about the content of the resolution, we are concerned about the tone of the negotiation process. Actions of the Government of Canada, which chairs negotiations of the annual HRC resolution on violence against women, have hampered the negotiation process. This has included circulating drafts of the resolution only a short time before negotiation meetings thereby hindering other governments’ abilities to engage meaningfully in the negotiations, and not including numerous critical proposals pertaining to sexual and reproductive rights and health that were made during negotiations that had broad support from governments and received no opposition comments.

We call on the Canadian government to include (at a minimum) the following operational provisions in the text, which commit to:
1. Providing survivors of sexual violence with essential sexual and reproductive health services;
2. Providing comprehensive sexuality education to adolescents which would promote not just sexual and reproductive health and rights but also gender equality, and hence reduce gender-based violence; and
3. Reviewing abortion laws and regulations that restrict or deny access to safe abortion in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape.

Failing to include these references represents a significant roll back on international agreements, including the recent 57th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which will result in serious consequences for women’s rights at the UN, and at the national level, including for survivors of sexual violence.

In line with the above recommendations, at a minimum, this resolution must reflect and not deliver less than what was agreed at this past CSW. We trust that you will take this matter seriously by taking immediate action to ensure the full integration of the above into the text.

(Please see list of signatories below)

CC: Honourable John Baird, P.C., MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ONK1A 0A6

CC Paul Dewar
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic
House of Commons
Ottawa, ONK1A 0A6

CC Bob Rae
Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic
House of Commons
Ottawa, ONK1A 0A6

Signatory organizations

Action Canada for Population and Development (now Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights)
Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes (AOcVF)
Amnesty International Canada 
ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health 
ASTRA Youth Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health
Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) 
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies 
Canadian Association of Social Workers
Canadian Council for International Co-Operation (CCIC) 
Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) 
Canadian Federation for Sexual Health 
Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women
Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) 
Canadians For Choice 
Canadian Union of Postal Workers 
Canadian Unions of Public Employees (CUPE) 
Canada Without Poverty 
Canadian Women’s Foundation/Foundation canadienne des femmes 
Center for Reproductive Rights
Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) 
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Unions of Canada 
Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action (CREA)  
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (International)                 
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) 
Fair(e) Enough Inc.
Federation for Women and Family Planning, Poland 
Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) 
Harmony House, Ottawa, ON
International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) 
Institute for International Women’s Rights – Manitoba 
MATCH International          
McLeod Group 
Minority Women in Action (MWA) 
Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial 
National Council of Women Canada 
Ontario Federation of Labour
Oxfam Canada 
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) 
Transition House Association of Nova Scotia 
Rutgers WPF
Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) 
West Coast Women’s Legal Education Action Fund (LEAF) 
Women’s Legal Education Action Fund (LEAF) 
World Federalist Movement – Canada 
Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights 
YWCA Canada 

Signatory women’s human rights defenders/défenseurs des droits humains des femmes signataires:

Aidan McFarlane
Alecsa Mackinnon Blair
Alexa Johns
Alexandria Novokowsky
Allison Webster
Amelie Laporte
Amy thirst
Andrea Fernandez
Angela Huser
Ann Braithwaite
Anna Veeder
Annabelle Mineault
Annapurna Moffatt
Anne Langdji
Anni Buelles
Ashley Wheaton
Ashmeela Ahmad
Barbara Lyske
Bedelia Bloodyknuckle
Bonnie Pearson
Brendan Glauser
Brian Delaney
Canadians for Choice
Carol Leigh
carolyn johnston
Carolyn Rumsey
Cheryl Dendoff
Christiane Nkolo
Claire Cameron
Claire Duffy
Claudine Jacques
Craig Peters
Crystal Casey
Dan German
Daniel Cayley-Daoust
Daniel van Heest
David Rogalsky
Deane Aguilar
Deanna Ogle
Devon Crick
Devon MacFarlane
Diana Sarosi
Elizabeth Dandy
Elizabeth Pickett
Erika Reis
Evan Johnston
Forrest Wieler
France Laferriere
Franki Harrogate
Fraser Mackinnon Blair
Georgia Foster
Gladu de Vette Alexia
Gladys Radek
Gordon Hill
Heather Burley
Heather Gibb
Hilary Brown
Ian Weniger
Isaac Campbell
Jacqueline Hansen
Jamie Eberle
Jamie Murray
Jane Doyle
Janine Farrell
Jeff deValk
Jennifer Burgess
Jennifer Kaleta
Jo-Ann Rodrigues
Joni Di Placido
Jonquil Garrick
Josh Lepinsky
Josie Baker
Joyce Arthur
Julie Caron
Julie White
Kathleen Heaney
Katherine MacDonald
Kathleen May
Katrina Nokleby

Kayla Vick
Keith Higgins
Kelsey Croft
Kristine St-Pierre
Lana Fox
Laura Manning
Laura Track
Laura Wershler
Laurie Martin
Leigh Elliott
Leigh Naturkach
Leilani Farha
Leonie Johns
Linda MacDonald
Lindsay Bush
Lindsay Roberts
Lisa Blair
Lisa Redekop
Llynn Byrne
lori hirtelen
Lorlie Copeland
Lorraine Serrano
Margaret S. Martin
Marie Cuillerier
Marie Hammond-Callaghan
Marie Lemay
Marie Shoup
Marilyn Carpenter
Mark Olacke
Martha Villeda
Martin Dufresne
Mary Leong
Mayssam Zaaroura
Michael Beck
Mike Thorpe
Monique Cuillerier
naima mussarat
Nancy manderson
Noorin Dahya
Olga Gil
Pat Bailey
Paul Hannon
Philip Ogyny
Raheena D
Randy Tyson
Rebecca Langstone
Reece Sellin
ripika kapoor
Rita Kodida
Robin Sundstrom
Rosario Castro
Sally Armstrong
Sarah Kennell
Scarlett Lake
Scott Long
Seanna Nichol
Senthuri Paramalingam
Shannon Hardy
Shannon Lloyd
Sharon Froese
Sharon Goldberg
Shawn Des Jardins
Shelby Smith
Shobana Rajan
Simone Manley
Sonja Boon
Stephen Dick
Stephen Mounsey
Susan Russell
Sylvie Denault
Tara Stout
Tharmini Kuhathasan
Trevor Phillips
Tricia-Dawn Parker
Turia Hudsmith
Vera Peters
Vince Clements
Yvonne Sullivan
Zuly Trujillo

Additional sign-ons/Signataires supplémentaires
Childcare Resource and Research Unit
Club des femmes de carrière du Sud-Est du N.-B. (Shediac-Moncton)
DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) Canada / Réseau d’action de femmes handicapées (RAFH) Canada
Fédération des femmes du Québec
Justice for Girls International
Inter Pares
Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale
Réseau Action femmes
Women’s Health Clinic

Adele Rayworth
Adrienne Germain
Adriana Fresco
Adrienne Stevenson
Alana Domit Bittar
Allyson Lyske
Amber Scoyne
Angie-Lee Louis-Seize
Anne Finlay
Anne McMullin
Ariane Coury
Arlene Macklem
Ashleigh Wiles
Ashok Athavale
Audrey Beaulieu
Audrey McClelland
Barbara McCubbin
Belle Jarniewski
betty smith
Bonnie Winters
Brenda Durdle
Brenda Mielke
Brenda Wallace
Brian Freund
Brianna Bertin
C Murphy
caitlyne brewer
cam macquarrie
Camilla Bignell
CAREY McPherson
Carol Churchill
Carol Greene
Carol Pelton
carolyn egan
Carolyn Filteau
catherine levasseur
Catherine Phipps
Cathryn Nadjiwon
Celine Basto
chanda pundir
Chantal Gauthier
Chie Reeves
Christine Monks
Christine Storm
Claire Card
claude lebeuf
Colleen Allan
Constance Caton
Corrine Patchett
Craig Lauder
Cristiann Kannen
daniel pessole
Danielle Bertin
Darryl Peck
Dave Snelgrove
david allan
Debbie Emery
Deborah Kahan
Diane O’Reggio
Donna Zaffino
Dorfam Farno
Dorothy Stephens
Douglas Alton
dreulani dupuis
Drew Varsava
Elizabeth Abrantes
Elizabeth Barnes
Elizabeth Eaton
Emily Newcombe
Emma Alexander
Emma Hazan
Felicitas Ritter
Franca De Angelis
Frank Showler
Fred Andersen
Fred Brailey
Gail Brinston
Gayathri Naganathan
ginette deslauriers
GloriaAnn Curwin
Graemee Bates
Greta Levy
Hannah Jukes
Hedy Fry
Helen Brink
Irene Schnell
J Ticknor
Jaela Rogers
Jamie Murray
Jason Albright
jatharthan paramarajah
Jean A Paterson
Jean Farrall
Jeanette Doucet
Jeff pinder
Jennifer Lindley
Jessie Tsang
Jill Doctoroff
Jill Johnson
Joan Macklin
Jo-Anne Dillon
Joanne Nieuwkerk
John Gaul
Julia Keast
Julie Pollock

Karla Lancaster
Kate McInturff
Katherine Steele
Kathleen Fredette
Kathleen Howes
Kathryn Blair
kathy antle
Kay Procter
Kelly Wiggins
Kelsey McKessock
Khaleel Meghji
Kim Egan
Kringen Henein
Kristen Lawr
Lance Sylliboy
Laura Snelgrove
Laura Williams
LeAmber Kensley
Leann Pilon
Leia Peison
Lesley Grott
Leslie Kuretzky
Liette Lalonde
lillian mak
Linda Cartier
Linda Garrard
Linda Hutsell-Manning
Linda Rice
Lisa Ordell
Lissa Donner
Lois Hodgins
Lovely Dhillon
Maddy Capozzi
Marcy Boyd
mariam omar
marianne waraich
marija babic
Marilou Mcphedran
Marion Desplenter
Mark Buell
mary scott
Maryanna Price
Mckenzie Brown
Megan Hutching
Melanie Anderson
melanie faith
Menai Wardle
Michael Brok
Michele Landsberg
Mike Scott
Monica Gordon
Monica Lysack
Monica Meikle
Norma Walker
Pam Bowman
Pat Watt
Patricia Zimmer
PAUL Dhillon
Peter Barnacle
Petra Roberts
Phyllis Michailidis
Rachael Lake
Rachelle Poirier
Raegan Scott Hapect
Rathika Sitsabaiesan
Rebecca Lantos
Renate Pasborg-Hering
Ricardo Avron Wolkoff
Ron Deeprose
Ron Schinners
Rosemarie Hainault
Ryan Taylor
sabrina baribeau
salina abji
Salme Jormakka Pringle
Sandra Frederiks
Scott MacKinnon
Shawna Oochoo
Sheila Adams
Shellie Bird
Sheri Laekeman
Sherry Noble
Shivani mahajan
Sophia HUDA
Sue Genge
Sue Lott
Sumeet Saini
Susan Barnes
Susan Hartley
Susan White
Sylvain-Paul Côté
Sylvia Hawkins
Sylvie Renaud
Suzsanna kingsbury
Tara Hurley
taylor byers
Theresa Fredette
Tracy Booth
Vanessa Sheppard
vicky frederick
Vicky Kotab
Victoria Pitchford
Wayne Helgason
Wendy Fortune
William Kuo
Yvonne Trethart

Posted on 2013-06-12
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