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Human Rights Council Adopts Third Resolution on Child, Early and Forced Marriage

View of the Human Rights Council. Photo credit: UN Photo | Jean-March Ferré

On 10 July, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted its third resolution on Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM), under a theme of ‘consequences of child marriage’.

The resolution calls on UN Member States to strengthen and accelerate action to address child marriage, and makes important new contributions to the global discourse on child marriage by including a focus on girls that are already married.

100 Girls Not Brides’ members came together to call on their governments to co-sponsor the resolution. This is an important success for the Partnership and shows the power we have when working together.

The resolution, led by The Netherlands, was adopted without a vote and co-sponsored by 77 countries. The Netherlands has this message to share with our movement:

“The Netherlands greatly valued the extensive constant inputs and support by civil society. Civil society has helped us and the core group to identify the most useful theme to focus this year’s resolution (on the consequences of CEFM), cover all relevant aspects in the resolution, and adopt it with the widest cross-regional support. We are looking forward to continuing the work with civil society to ensure the resolution is implemented and translated to real progress in the lives of women and girls subjected to child, early and forced marriage.” Rineke van Dam, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

WHAT DOES THIS RESOLUTION SAY ABOUT CHILD MARRIAGE?

This resolution builds on progress made in the 2017 CEFM resolution and the 2015 CEFM resolution, but has also made important new gains, including highlighting:

  • The need to support girls and women who have been married as children. It calls for governments to ‘ensure that married and/or pregnant adolescents and young mothers, as well as single mothers, can continue and complete their education’.
  • Child marriage constitutes a violation of human rights, with ‘wide-ranging and adverse consequences for the enjoyment of human rights, the right to education and the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including the right to sexual and reproductive health’.
  • The criminalisation of child marriage is ‘insufficient when introduced without complementary measures and support programmes, and may instead contribute to the marginalisation of, and the loss of livelihoods for, the families affected, and have the unintended effect of increasing the practice of informal unions or unregistered marriages’.
  • Acknowledging that child marriage may include informal unions, cohabitation or other arrangements that are not usually recognised by religious or state authority. It recommends that these unions should be addressed in policies and programmes on child marriage.

WHAT DOES THE RESOLUTION CALL ON THE UN AND MEMBER STATES TO DO?

The resolution outlines recommendations for governments on how to strengthen their work addressing child marriage. It also calls for specific actions for the UN to take forward as an outcome of this resolution, which are:

  • Two regional workshops to discuss progress, gaps and challenges in addressing child marriage, organised by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The outcomes of the workshops will be captured in a written report and presented at the 47th session of the Human Rights Council. Civil society organisations are encouraged to work with their governments and national OHCHR offices to participate in these meetings.
  • A request for the OHCHR to provide a written report on progress, gaps and challenges in addressing child marriage to the Human Rights Council at its 47th session, and to provide an oral update to the Council at its 44th session. Civil society will be encouraged to input through an online consultation.

You can read the full resolution in English, Français, and Español.

WHICH COUNTRIES CO-SPONSORED THE RESOLUTION?

ALBANIA, ANGOLA, ARGENTINA, ARMENIA, AUSTRALIA , AUSTRIA , BELGIUM, BOLIVIA (PLURINATIONAL STATE OF), BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, BOTSWANA, BULGARIA, CANADA, CHILE, CROATIA, CYPRUS, COSTA RICA, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, ESTONIA, FIJI, FINLAND, FRANCE, GAMBIA, GEORGIA, GERMANY, GHANA, GREECE, HAITI, HONDURAS, HUNGARY, ICELAND, IRELAND, ISRAEL, ITALY, JAPAN, LATVIA, LIECHTENSTEIN, LITHUANIA, LUXEMBOURG, MALAWI, MALTA, MEXICO, MONACO, MONGOLIA, MONTENEGRO, MOZAMBIQUE, NAMIBIA, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, NORTH MACEDONIA, NORWAY, PARAGUAY, PERU, POLAND, PORTUGAL, REPUBLIC OF KOREA, REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, ROMANIA, RWANDA, SAN MARINO, SERBIA, SIERRA LEONE, SLOVAKIA, SLOVENIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND, THAILAND, TUNISIA, TURKEY, UKRAINE, UNITED KINGDOM, URUGUAY, ZAMBIA.