UN Human Rights Council adopts resolutions on free expression, peaceful assembly, and non-discrimination against women and girls
Earlier this month, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted several resolutions including key resolutions on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls; and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
- Resolution on freedom of opinion and expression: This resolution recognises and affirms the right to freedom of expression and opinion as a human right that applies both on and offline. The resolution emphasises the challenges and opportunities of digital contexts, noting that digital and media and information literacy, civic participation and online safety, are important to bridge digital divides and ensure digital inclusion and the enjoyment of human rights, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Digital literacy along with access and connectivity is highlighted as key components of ensuring that all members of society, particularly vulnerable and marginalised groups, can access online spaces in safe, secure, and meaningful ways. The need to overcome the gender digital divide and empower and enable women and girls was further emphasised. The resolution expressly notes concern around the spread of disinformation and the spread of incitement, discrimination, and hatred. This resolution also strongly condemns the use of internet shutdowns. Through the resolutions, States have been called upon to, among other things, promote digital access and inclusion, enable digital, media and information literacy education as well as establish fact-checking mechanisms and ensure transparent and accountable technological solutions.
- Resolution on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls: This resolution recognises that women and girls are subject to multiple, intersecting and systemic forms of discrimination both on and offline. The resolution expresses particular concern about discrimination, violence and harassment faced by women and girl activists, including sexual and gender-based violence as well as defamation and smear campaigns, both on and offline. The resolution also reaffirms that the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls includes sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, free from coercion, discrimination and violence. The resolution calls on States to, among other things, implement legislation and regulations that curb online harms. States are further urged to make use of print and online media to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by women and girls, and the resolution prompts states to create and enhance safe and accessible spaces, on and offline, for girls and young women activists to participate and express their views freely and meaningfully.
- Resolution on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: This resolution stresses the importance of free, open, and reliable access to the internet and the development of media and information and communications facilities in all countries. By doing so, the resolution unequivocally condemns measures that prevent or disrupt an individual’s ability to seek, receive or impart information online, including internet shutdowns and online censorship, and calls on states to cease such measures and facilitate the enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly and privacy. States are called upon to desist from monitoring individuals and groups who are peacefully organised and blocking their internet access at key political moments. The resolution stresses further the necessity for online platforms to realise the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in times of crisis or emergency. In addition, it calls on States to establish and maintain a safe and enabling environment in which civil society actors can operate freely.
The resolution on freedom of opinion and expression can be accessed here.
The resolution on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls can be accessed here.
The resolution on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association can be accessed here.
The report on the adoption of the UNHRC resolutions can be accessed here.
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