107 Governments Sponsor UN Resolution Calling for Women's Equal Nationality Rights
During the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), 107 countries* co-sponsored a new HRC Resolution, "The Right to a Nationality: Women's Equal Nationality Rights in Law and Practice," which calls on all governments to ensure gender equal nationality rights and urges reform in countries maintaining gender-discriminatory nationality laws in violation of countries' obligations under international law.
Adopted by the HRC on June 30, 2016, the resolution builds on the 2012 resolution, The Right to a Nationality: Women and Children, includes stronger gender equality language, and calls for women’s equal ability to confer to children and spouses (spousal conferral was not highlighted in the previous resolution). It is hoped that the new resolution will be leveraged by women's rights activists in countries maintaining discriminatory nationality laws to support reform efforts.
Also during the June Session, the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights organized the HRC side event, "Women’s Equal Nationality Rights in Law and Practice," which was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States and, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Children's Fund, UN Women, and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion. Held at the Palais des Nations, the event was well-attended by Member States, UN staff and civil society.
U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council, H.E. Ambassador Keith M. Harper, opened the event, stressing women’s equal nationality rights as fundamental to states' responsibility to uphold non-discrimination on the basis of sex and in the best interest of countries’ development and security. Following Ambassador Harper, Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights Manager Catherine Harrington provided an overview of the status of gender-discriminatory nationality laws worldwide, the human rights violations resulting from these laws, the relevance of international human rights conventions, and recent momentum for reform. Harrington also stressed the connection between these laws and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), emphasizing that nine out of the seventeen SDGs are negatively impacted by gender discrimination in nationality laws. The Permanent Representative of Algeria, H.E. Ambassador Boudjemâa Delmi shared Algeria’s path to reform and the many benefits to individuals, families and society-at-large. Madagascar’s Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Mr. Solofo Andrianjatovo Razafitrimo, then discussed his country’s ongoing reform efforts, including a bill presently being drafted in order to ensure Malagasy women’s equal right to confer nationality to children.
Following the panel there was an active discussion with the audience, with a number of Member States expressing their support for achieving gender equal nationality rights. Of particular note, Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Her Excellency Ms. Yvette Stevens, affirmed her country’s commitment to reform its law to ensure women’s equal nationality rights.
*Original sponsors and co-sponsors:
(Original sponsors in bold)
Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa (on behalf of the States Members of the Group of African States), Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Uruguay, Ukraine, United States of America
Note: Individual duplicates in original co-sponsors (Angola and Kenya) have been removed above in view of the African Group co-sponsorship that already includes these States. Main sponsors (core group members) that are members of the African Group – Algeria and Botswana – are nevertheless kept.
Group of African States:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Additional HRC Member and Observer Co-sponsors:
Observers: Argentina, Austria, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Greece, Guatemala, Japan, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Sri Lanka