Woodhull Freedom Foundation Participates in First-Ever U.S. Delegation at UN Universal Periodic Review
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s Human Rights Program Director RJ Thompson joined a delegation of NGO advocates to represent United States civil society at the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review. The 9th session of the UPR, held from November 1 through 12 in Geneva, is notable for involving a U.S. contingent for the first time in the Review’s history, as well as for its unprecedented inclusion of a sexual freedom NGO in the form of Woodhull Freedom Foundation
“Our presence at the UN is a powerful statement of our vision of affirming sexual rights as integral part of a broader human rights framework, and an exciting benchmark in the international discussion on sex and sexual freedom. This is a very big week for Woodhull, and we couldn’t be more excited about RJ’s work” said Ricci Joy Levy, President and CEO of the Foundation.
The UPR, created in 2006 by United Nations Resolution 60/251, provides UN member states the opportunity to publicly review the state of human rights within their borders, compiling reports, fielding questions, and responding to criticism from the delegates of other nations regarding the expectations laid out in foundational documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The mechanism has the power not only to “promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world,” in the words of Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon; with the involvement of the United States, this year’s meeting in Geneva will afford Americans a unique opportunity to reflect on human rights issues at home.
As an organization concerned with sexual rights as a human rights issue, Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s involvement ensured a broader, more inclusive approach to the UPR on the part of the U.S. delegation.
Thompson worked to highlight gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and sex worker health issues, successfully lobbied to pose a sexual rights recommendation during the US review, questioned the U.S. government representatives at a Town Hall Meeting following the review, and strengthened Woodhull’s participation in the “Human Rights at Home” campaign by emphasizing the pressing need for the United States to ratify such treaties as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Thompson reports that “Our advocacy and the advocacy of our allies this week in Geneva was a great success. States posed questions and recommendations to the U.S. on a wide range of human rights concerns, including reproductive rights, LGBT rights and sex workers’ issues. This was a historic review for many reasons, including the fact that we had the rare opportunity to raise economic, social and cultural rights issues despite the fact that the U.S. has not ratified the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights thanks to the fact that the UPR considers the entirety of a country’s human rights obligations, including those under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Sexual rights advocates were a strong contingent of the US Human Rights Network NGO delegation, and we felt that the diversity of civil society in the U.S. was well represented. Our real work begins now to hold the government accountable to meaningful enforcement and implementation of their obligations under international law.
Dozens of countries insisted that the U.S. establish an independent non-partisan National Human Rights Commission in accordance with the Paris Principles. As part of the Human Rights at Home Campaign, Woodhull will be fully engaged in this work once we return home.”
Further information regarding the UPR can be found at the UN Human Rights Commission’s website, available here: Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s statement on human rights, and information regarding its human rights program, can be accessed here.
The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is a 501(c)3 research, educational, and advocacy organization working in every realm of society and culture to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. The associated Woodhull Freedom Federation is a 501(c) 4 organization that advances this work by reaching lawmakers and policy stakeholders. Together, known simply as WFF, they work to advance their joint purpose by strengthening and protecting freedom of speech and its inherent freedom of expression, including sexual orientation, gender identification, and sexual practice. For more, visit woodhullfoundation.org.