CHOGM partial BG uide by UzLj3VMZ



Carleton United Nations

in partnership with

The Royal Commonwealth
                                                                 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
Dear Delegates,

  On behalf of the Board of the United Nations Society, we would like to welcome you to the Fall In-
House 2012, and to the model Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) committee.
Whether you are a returning or new member, we feel that this committee will provide an excellent forum
for rigorous debate in a challenging diplomatic context. In preparation for this two-day conference, the
following background guide will provide you with a basic understanding of the three possible topics, as
well as a starting point for discerning what your state’s positions may be.

  The formation of this committee not only represents the ever-growing partnership between the Carleton
UNS and the Royal Commonwealth Society, but also reflects the diversity of committees that you may
encounter at external conferences. Model UN conferences have expanded to simulate many different
deliberative bodies that aren’t necessarily part of the UN itself, but that nonetheless facilitate meaningful
discussion of global issues. For example, Queen’s Model UN 2012 is hosting a “NATO 2040” committee.
Because CHOGM procedure is different from that of UN bodies, we have included a comprehensive
overview of CHOGM procedures at the end of this guide with which we strongly recommend you
familiarize yourself. Knowledge and use of proper procedure is an important component to the evaluation
of delegates’ performance, and so it is our goal that our delegates are prepared for a variety of committee

  Moreover, one of the components of a CHOGM committee is the ‘double delegation’, which some of
you may experience at a lager conference such as McGill Model UN. A double delegation consists of two
individual delegates representing one state. Generally, one delegate will remain in the conference room to
carry out moderated discussion on their state’s behalf, while the second delegate will carry out diplomatic
conversation and negotiation in an un-moderated context outside the room. They must work together to co-
ordinate a cohesive position, and to lobby for their policies and ideas. In the context of CHOGM, this
double delegation consists of the PM (Head of Government, e.g. Prime Minister Harper) and the FM
(Foreign Minister, e.g. John Baird). The PM will remain in one room in a moderated discussion, while the
FM will circulate among other FM representatives in another room to negotiate policy.

  While these two positions have very different roles in committee, they are equally demanding in terms of
accurate representation of your state, and in diplomatic ability. The most well-prepared teams will:

          have met up or made contact to discuss positions and ideas prior to the conference;
          have a good sense of the positions of other states and/or regional blocks;
          have knowledge of existing Commonwealth policy and initiatives with regards to the topics;
          be familiar with CHOGM procedure;
          have a general strategy when it comes to lobbying for topics, policies, and initiatives
           within the committee, including a system of communication, as you will be in separate

  In short, research is the key to feeling confidant as you walk into the committee rooms. Most importantly,
your confidence is our priority, because those of us who have participated in Model UN conferences know
that confident delegates raise the level of debate, and facilitate a more positive experience. Your priority,
in turn, will be to accurately represent your state’s agendas, policies, and attitudes towards the following
topics: the rights of sexual minorities, violence against women, and women in politics. These are broad and
daunting topics, and so we recommend focusing your attention on a few key issues and possible solutions
that reflect your state’s policies and current involvement. For example, when discussing women in politics,
it may be prudent to break down such a topic into areas of development, such as education, that have a
direct impact on women’s ability to participate in the political process.

  We sincerely hope that the overall goal of this committee will be to establish common grounds between
Commonwealth member states on which to construct new, innovative, and targeted solutions to many of
the issues surrounding these topics that affect millions worldwide. That being said, Model UN is an
activity that values the respectful treatment of the animosity and discord that exists between states on a
variety of issues, and so we are looking forward to the lively debate that will ensue from the topics we
have decided to put forward.

 Yours Sincerely,

                    Jillian White VP Communications, & Laura Mitchell Co-Director of Training
                        Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Table of Contents

Women in Politics…………………………………….4

Violence Against Women……………………….18

Recognition of the Rights of Sexual
                                                                                Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Topic C: Women in Politics

From “Presence Without Empowerment?” – a paper prepared for the Conflict Prevention and
                            Peace Forum December 2010

                                      by Mala Htun and Jennifer M. Piscopo
           “Does women’s greater presence in power lead to policy outcomes more favorable to women’s rights? The trends
identified in this paper show that women are achieving greater inclusion in political office. Yet inclusion does not lead
automatically to the substantive activity of representation. Changing policies to benefit women involves the introduction of
bills and amendments, lobbying, voting, consciousness-raising, speeches, issuing executive decrees and administrative
decisions, and other myriad political tasks.

          An additional concern is whether women are sufficiently powerful and influential to secure policy change. Even
when they act in favor of women’s interests by making speeches and introducing legislation, women politicians may be
unable to get legislation, budgets, or executive decisions approved. Women face numerous obstacles to achieving policy
success. For instance, they may encounter principled opposition to their proposals; they may be excluded from a busy
committee agenda; or they may lack the political clout to ensure their proposals are discussed in plenary.

            Women will act on behalf of other women but also illustrates some of the obstacles to making feminist policy.
Women’s rising presence led to greater advocacy for progressive policies on violence against women, reproductive health,
labor rights, and sexual harassment; this advocacy occurred because most female legislators recognized a mandate to
promote gender equality policies, Yet bills related to women’s rights were more than twice as likely to fail as other types of
bills. Lacking the support of party presidents and chairs of congressional committees, the bills sponsored by female
legislators tended to die before they arrived for a full vote in the plenary.”

         Over the past thirty years, the world has seen an unprecedented increase in the
representation of women in government and decision-making positions. Between 1980 and 2008,
thirty-five women were elected to the head of their respective governments worldwide, and
many more elected or appointed to other high-ranking positions. Most encouraging about this
statistic is that many of these women were elected in states which are developing, recovering
from conflict, or extremely poor, such as Rwanda. These circumstances often affect women and
girls disproportionately from men, and so it is cause for celebration that individual women have
been able to achieve success in countries such as Sri Lanka, Mozambique, and Rwanda, which
now boasts 56% representation of women in government compared to the global average of

        However, in many cases the success of individual women in politics is an isolated event
that remains overshadowed by a male-dominated definition of political leadership. Moreover, the
persistent, underlying attitude that women are ‘not fit to lead’ remains present even in highly
developed nations. In 2008, Hillary Clinton made history by being the first woman to be a serious
                                                                Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
contender for the American Presidential election. Like countless other female politicians,
however, she was repeatedly evaluated by her looks, clothing, the tone of her voice, and by her
marital relationship. A Globe and Mail from March 2009 article criticized her “dumpy pantsuit”,
saying that her “bee-hind looks like a tree-trunk”, rather than assessing her extensive
professional qualifications and achievements, or leadership skills.ii At the time, Joanna Everitt, a
notable scholar of media and gender in Canada, commented on how unsurprising it is that given
the male-dominated political arena, the media coverage of politics are as well. Even in a country
as comparatively advanced in gender equality as Canada, political reporting still generally
“employs a masculine narrative that reinforces the conception of politics as a male preserve and
treats male as normative…reinforcing the image that politics is something that men do.”iii

         An important distinction to make is that between women actually being in positions of
power, and the ideological power of feminist politics. Women’s movements continue to exist
within the parametres of a male-dominated power structure, and remain largely powerless to
affect significant change on such a deeply rooted regime. Until such a change begins to take root,
the success of individual women will continue to be subject to the underlying attitude that
politics is a man’s arena, and will be treated as isolated occurrences rather than the emergence of
a new norm.

       As such, we would like to emphasize the following two aspects that we feel will define the
course of this model CHOGM:

    1. The challenges of empowering women worldwide in the political processes of their states
       are by no means unique to small, developing, and poor states. Circumstances affect
       women’s mobility and freedom differently, but obstacles to female representation in
       politics are omnipresent. This means that the discussion of causes and possible solutions
       will be multivalent, incorporating a diverse understanding of the many different cultural,
       economic, and social factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in
    2. The goal of the Commonwealth is to see at least 30% female representation of women
       across the board of its member states. This requires representatives of CHOGM to be
       aware of the variety of factors influencing women in politics, as mentioned above, both
       within your assigned state and others. Your goal in this committee will therefore be to
       build common ground on which to continue to strive for this goal in relation to the
       diversity of the member states, and initiatives already in place.

         The following sections will extrapolate on these two points to highlight the direct
relationship that development has with the empowerment of women, the various ways in which
women have sought and in some cases achieved a significant level of political representation, and
the initiatives and programs currently in place in nations and through the Commonwealth
organization that address this issue within its member states. This by no means an exhaustive
source of information, but it provides a brief survey of the ways in which women worldwide are
seeking equal representation.

Canada and the Caribbean

        In 2006, approximately 21% of all elected politicians in Canada were women. This
percentage, however, does not reflect an equal representation of women across each province. In
fact, women’s representation in politics ranged from province to province as high as 30%, and as
low as 10.5%. The Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New
Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador all fell below the national average.iv
Even though Ontario exceeds the national average, Tracey Raney, professor of politics at Ryerson
                                                                Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
University, points out that in Ontario legislature as of 2011, “we’re tied with Afghanistan for 30th
in terms of percentages of women in the legislature.”v Despite a national average increase from
21% to 24.7% as of July 31st 2012, Canada ranks 45th in the world in overall representation in
national political arenas – tied with Australia, and trailing behind Iraq (43rd), Afghanistan (37th),
Guyana (28th), Uganda (20th), Seychelles (5th) and Rwanda in first place with 56.3%
representation in mid-level political Many feminists and women’s rights activists
today observe that among today’s generations, there exists the perception that “feminism” is no
longer necessary, and as such the word “feminist” is consistently associated with outdated,
negative, and sarcastic stereotypes. These statistics indicate that Canada and the vast majority of
nations, including developed nations such as the United Kingdom (57th), the United States (80th),
Russia (94th), and Japan (110th) are very much still in need of programs and initiatives that
empower women in politics and that propagate awareness of such a staggering gender gap.

         In Canada, we are privileged by equal access to education and opportunity, as well as
freedom of expression regardless of gender, race, etc. This has allowed the establishment of many
different non-profit organizations whose mandate is to promote – and in some cases fund – the
inclusion of women in political processes across the country. As mentioned in the introduction,
women generally experience a much harsher environment in the political arena than men; that is,
women are disproportionately criticized for appearance, speaking voice, attire, marital status,
sexual history, and more. This makes it incredibly difficult for many women to have themselves,
their qualifications, and their experience taken as seriously as a man’s in the same position. This
has a direct impact on campaign fundraising, positive media coverage, and ultimately, election
results. In response, organizations such as Fair Vote Canada, Equal Voice, UN Women Canada, and
many more work tirelessly to promote the legitimacy and viability of female political candidates
across Canada.

         Caribbean countries experience much lower percentages of female representation in
politics, and organizations similar to those in Canada are fewer and farther between, operating
under much smaller budgets and with fewer human resources. While women have some power in
politics across the region as party leaders, members of parliament, ministers, senators, and even
in a very few cases as presidents and speakers of the House, there is no popular women’s political
mandate within these countries; no political basis for women to appeal their issues, no women’s
caucuses, and almost no women’s movements spearheading the issue of underrepresentation in
Caribbean politics.

        Between the Caribbean members of the Commonwealth, the average percentage of
representation is approximately 14.3%. This average reflects an enormous range within this
region; while Belize presents no female cabinet members, Guyana has boasted well over 25% for
much of the past decade. Amongst the Anglophone Caribbean, which is comprised mostly of
Commonwealth member states, women continue to hold comparatively lower percentages of
cabinet positions than Latin American nations. Moreover, this region contradicts the conventional
notion that economic development gives rise to women’s empowerment; statistically, “the higher
a country’s GDP per capita in the Caribbean, the lower the proportion of female cabinet
ministers.”vii Moreover, a higher score on the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index does not
necessarily reflect a higher representation of women in politics. For example, Barbados has the
highest score in the LAC (Latin American and Caribbean region), but elects very few women. This
index has also proven to be an inconsistent indicator of the probability of a nation adopting a
gender quota law that would mandate a certain percentage of women in elected positions.viii The
challenge in this region, then, will be to address the impact that long-standing cultural attitudes
towards women have on their ability to become political actors.

        On a domestic level, women who have gained access to positions of political influence are
generally clustered within very distinct areas of administration and governance. These areas, in
addition to being those associated with a ‘feminine’ disposition, tend to be referred to as ‘soft’
portfolios: social services, education, tourism, culture, housing, and human resources. In Antigua
                                                                        Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
and Barbuda, the minister for “Education, Sports, Youth, and Gender Affairs” is a woman. This
position is a hybrid of ‘soft’ portfolios, as is the minister of “Education and Human Resources
Development” in Dominica. Conversely, many women in Latin and South American countries have
achieved positions within ‘hard’ portfolios such as industry, foreign affairs and finance.ix
Moreover, while there is a relatively high percentage of female representation in national Senates
compared to their respective cabinets, this is largely due to the fact that Senators are appointed,
not elected.

         Through the removal of discriminatory laws and the implementation of enabling
legislation, policy reforms, and the institutionalization of gender at the national and regional
levels, many Caribbean states continue to strive to meet the standards laid out in the UN
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). With only a few
exceptions, prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sex are enshrined within states’
constitutions. Caribbean states have also been involved in a variety of initiatives that reflect the
Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention,
Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women.

The United Kingdom and Africa

        The following excerpt is from the paper “Women’s Representation in U.K. Politics: What
can be done within the Law?” written by Meg Russell, a Senior Research Fellow at the
Constitution Unit at UCL. Its introduction provides a pragmatic overview of past initiatives, their
effectiveness, the current situation, and possible solutions to the underrepresentation of women
in the United Kingdom. Like Canada, the U.K. ranks startlingly low: 57th place. Russell
acknowledges both electoral process and accompanying cultural attitudes in her work, and
expresses the scope of the issue as follows:
       Women’s representation in UK politics remains relatively low. Though progress has been made in some
        areas, women remain only 18% of members of the House of Commons. This compares with 43% of
        parliamentarians in Sweden and 37% in Denmark.

       Experience in the UK and overseas shows that women’s representation is boosted when parties use
        positive action (‘quotas’). Recent improvements in women’s representation made by the Labour Party at
        Westminster, and other parties elsewhere in the UK, has been primarily thanks to positive action.

       The UK parties have been cautious to adopt quotas since the industrial tribunal decision. Since then the
        Employment Appeal Tribunal has confirmed that selection of candidates is subject to the Sex
        Discrimination Act and Race Relations Act. More discrimination cases are therefore likely against parties,
        either because of positive action policies, or where women and ethnic minority candidates feel they have
        been discriminated against.

       Government could potentially resolve this problem by changing the law, but when this was proposed in
        1998 some lawyers said this would put the UK in breach of European or human rights law. Yet many
        parties elsewhere in Europe operate quotas, and some countries - most recently France - have imposed
        quotas by law.

       Since 1998 there have been many legal developments. The Amsterdam Treaty has come into force, and
        the European Court of Justice has become more supportive of positive action. Meanwhile human rights
        law allows positive action which is ‘proportionate’.

       Given these facts, and the prevalence of political quotas around Europe, it is highly unlikely that the
        European Court would interpret EU law as preventing quotas by political parties. The Court would be
        subject to heavy lobbying by member states and would not take such a controversial decision.

       Likewise, a legal change that permitted positive action would be unlikely to cause difficulties for
        government under the Human Rights Act - although parties might be challenged if they adopted quota
        systems which were not considered ‘proportionate’. If the law were changed to make quotas compulsory
        the chance of a challenge against the government succeeding would be higher.
                                                                      Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
      The best solution would be a new electoral law to govern candidate selections. This could require fair
       procedures, but also allow positive action to promote women (and possibly other under-represented
       groups). Such a law would explicitly allow parties to adopt quota systems, and result in fairer
       representation for women. It would make clear that candidacy was not employment, and thus end the
       involvement by employment tribunals in resolving disputes between members and parties. It could require
       fair selections, in a framework which allowed parties and their members to retain control of the process.

       For the full text of the paper, which explores in detail the impact of proportional
representative electoral processes, statutory gender quota policies, and the interaction with other
EU nations, follow the link included in the tenth endnote of this background guide.

        The continent of Africa contains within its borders the greatest concentration of
Commonwealth member states, and experiences by far the widest range of female representation
than any other region of the Commonwealth. From Nigeria and Gambia (127th in the world and
126th respectively) to South Africa and Rwanda (8th and 1st). As such, this section will consist not
of extensive overviews of each member state, but will instead highlight a few poignant case
studies and articles that illustrate a few key components of the issue of women in politics in

        Advancements in the representation of women in the political process in Kenya over the
past ten years have brought about substantial changes that have improved the lives of women
and girls across the country. While there remain significant challenges and obstacles to women
seeking political inclusion in higher-ranking government positions, Kenya is an example of how
the inclusion of women not only stems from development, but in turn facilitates entirely new
areas of development and advancement that were previously ignored. These changes are relative,
compared to international standards, but there is nonetheless a positive trend emerging in
several African countries like Kenya.

       Of the 222 Members of Parliament, only twenty-two are women (with six having been
appointed), but this is a notable increase since 2003 when only eighteen were women. Positive
increases in representation are more often than not attributed to gender responsive laws, and
Kenya is no exception: in 2006 the Sexual Offenses Act was introduced by sitting female MP Hon
Njoki Ndung’u. Subsequently, the Employment Act of 2007, and the Political Parties Act of 2007.
Both acts of 2007 address gender representation in both political and socio-economic contexts,
and are geared towards promoting equal participation of men and women. Moreover, the
introduction of the Women’s Fund enabled women to begin accessing loans from the government,
thereby gaining economic autonomy, access to higher education, and an overall sense of
independent empowerment.xi

       Transparency of the political process has also had a tangible impact on the dynamics of
Kenyan politics; the introduction of live coverage of Parliament has motivated more open and
widespread discussion of many issues previously overlooked. Such open debates resulted in the
2006 Sessional Paper No. 2 on Gender Equality and Development, National Land Policy, National
Reproductive and Health Policy, Gender Policy in Education (2007) and the National Policy for
the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation in 2008-2012.xii

        Such a paradigm shift meant that attention has begun to be paid to issues that affect not
just women and men equally, but women in particular. When a study revealed that the lack of
sanitation towels for young girls resulted in their missing a significant percentage of school every
month, public discussion was voiced where previously such conversation would have been taboo.
Instead of the issue being swept under the carpet, the public was moved to make donations to
schools, setting up a standing fund for sanitary towels for young girls.xiii This small, but
meaningful example demonstrates that although having more women in leadership positions
does not necessarily translate into gender equality (the Kenyan constitution remains relatively
                                                                Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
gender insensitive and is still being lobbied by women for review), women’s active participation
in decision-making is essential.

Denying their husbands sex: an effective political movement for women?

This past summer, women associated with the political opposition to President Faure Gnassinge
in Togo drew attention to themselves when they went on a ‘sex strike’. Several spokeswomen of
the strike indicated that of all the methods they could employ in order to attain a political voice,
the withholding of sex yielded the most immediate results. Even the President’s wife publically
joined the strike. Frustrated by the lack of an arena in which women could effectively voice their
opinions and make their demands of government, they vowed to deny their husbands sex until
change was promised.

A similar protest occurred in Kenya in 2009 out of frustration with the stagnancy of the new and
precarious unity government. Moreover, it was a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Liberia who
famously included a sex strike as a part of her vision of women’s activism in politics, citing it as an
important tool for women in raising awareness about their issues and opening conversation
about sex itself.

However, this tactic has been largely criticized by many on-looking feminists as being counter-
productive and in some ways harmful to the cause of women’s empowerment. They observe that
such a method merely legitimizes the notion of sex as an instrument, or object. The idea of sex as
something that can be taken away or given back reinforces the idea that sex is an acceptable point
of transaction in order to achieve a certain goal. Moreover, it reiterates narratives about women
who withhold sex for whatever reason, suggesting that it is done in order to control men. This is a
pernicious narrative that is consistently used in violent sexual situations to legitimize rape.xiv

         The following article was written in April 2004 by Gumisai Mutume, a Zimbabwean
woman who writes for the New York-based United Nations publication Africa Renewal. In this
report, she observes the incredible journey that Rwandan women have travelled from the
catastrophic 1994 genocide to a nation with the highest representation of women in politics in
the world. Gumisai Mutume discusses the historical role of the UN in empowering women in
politics, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and challenges of implementing gender quota laws
in African states. This article calls attention not only to the success that women in Rwanda have
achieved, but speaks to the ways in which their example may impact nations across the continent
if carefully facilitated by international organizations such as the UN and the Commonwealth, by
non-governmental organizations, and by the tenacity of the women themselves.

Women break into African politics

Quota systems allow more women to gain elected office
                                                                  Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
By Gumisai Mutume

Women in Rwanda now top the world rankings of women in national parliaments, with 49 per cent of
representation compared to a world average of 15.1 per cent. This year the country commemorates the
genocide of 1994, when Rwandan women suffered death, humiliation, persecution and sexual abuse
during a 100-day massacre that left more than 800,000 people dead.

As the country undergoes a period of reconstruction, women are taking an active role. They not only
head about a third of all households, but have also taken up many jobs that were formerly the preserve
of men, as in construction and mechanics.

However, their most notable achievement has been in politics. Thanks to a new constitution, 24 out of
80 seats in the lower house of parliament are reserved for women. During the country's September 2003
general election, the first after the genocide, an additional 15 women were voted into non-reserved
seats, bringing 39 into the lower house. In the upper house, 6 out of 20 seats are reserved for women.
To attain this, Rwandan women lobbied heavily, helped to draft the new constitution and developed
voting guidelines that guaranteed seats for women candidates. They were also able to push for the
creation of a government ministry of women's affairs to promote policies in favour of women's

"Especially in post-conflict situations, where new constitutions and legislative structures are being
created, it is critical that women are present at the peace table and in post-war policy-making," says UN
Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer. The agency
participated in post-genocide reconstruction in Rwanda, helping women to prepare for political office.

"It will be interesting to see what the entry of so many women in the national assembly will do for
politics in Rwanda," says the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a Geneva-based organization representing 138
parliaments worldwide. IPU President Anders Johnsson observes that the European Nordic countries
have an established history of women's participation in decision-making, but that Rwanda now
overtakes the long-time leader, Sweden, where women constitute 45 per cent of parliamentarians.

Women in politics

The drive to promote women in decision-making positions worldwide gained momentum during the
1980s and early 1990s through a series of international conferences. Further impetus came from the
Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China, in 1995, which called for at least 30 per
cent representation by women in national governments. In September 2000 at the UN Millennium
Summit in New York, world leaders pledged to "promote gender equality and the empowerment of
women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate development that is
truly sustainable." At that meeting, world leaders adopted the goal of gender equality and seven others,
known collectively as the Millennium Development Goals. Since then, the number of women in
leadership positions has been rising.

Despite being one of the poorest regions in the world, the level of women's representation in
parliament in sub-Saharan Africa is higher than in many wealthier countries.

"Study after study has shown that there is no effective development strategy in which women do not
play a central role," says UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. When women are fully involved, he notes,
the benefits are immediate - families are healthier and better fed and their income, savings and
investments go up. "And what is true of families is also true of communities and, in the long run, of
whole countries."
                                                                   Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
Rwanda's success in bringing women to the political table mirrors that of a small, but growing number
of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa and Mozambique, for example, women hold 30 per
cent of the seats in parliament - matching the international target. Women's representation in national
parliaments across sub-Saharan Africa equals the world average of about 15 per cent. Despite being one
of the poorest regions in the world, the level of women's representation in parliament in sub-Saharan
Africa is higher than in many wealthier countries, observes UNIFEM in its Progress of the World's
Women 2002 report. In the US, France and Japan for instance, women hold slightly more than 10 per
cent of parliamentary seats.

Quota systems

Between 2000 and 2002, elections were held in 23 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with increases in
women parliamentarians in 14 of them. Most of the countries that have achieved significant increases in
women's participation have done so through the use of quotas - a form of affirmative action in favour of
women. Worldwide, about 30 of the world's more than 190 countries apply some form of female quotas
in politics.

In Uganda, says Ms. Beatrice Kiraso, who was elected to parliament in 1996, quotas kick-started the
process of improving women's participation in national politics. A cycle began in which "women
gained confidence in women, opening up even more avenues." Uganda's quota system evolved from the
current government's origins in a guerrilla war during the 1980s, when women fought alongside men in
the National Resistance Army (NRA).

In each of the zones the rebels won, local councils were set up, with each including a secretary for
women's affairs. Eventually when the NRA came to power in 1986, it introduced the system into
national politics. By 1994, the government of President Yoweri Museveni appointed Dr. Wandira
Kazibwe as vice president, making her one of the highest ranking women in politics on the continent.

In South Africa too, women played a key role in the national liberation struggle and today are
benefiting from a quota system adopted by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

In Africa, there are three main quota systems:

-- Constitutional quotas. Some countries, including Burkina Faso and Uganda, have constitutional
provisions reserving seats in national parliament for women.

-- Election law quotas. Provisions are written into national legislation, as in Sudan.

-- Political party quotas. Parties adopt internal rules to include a certain percentage of women as
candidates for office. This is the case with the governing parties in South Africa and Mozambique.

Lack of support

However, while introducing quotas provides a means of addressing the gender imbalance in decision-
making, the practice often lacks support from important political actors or meets opposition in societies
that have strong patriarchal traditions. Much like the debate around affirmative action, those opposed to
quota systems say they discriminate against men.

The Zambia National Women's Lobby Group accuses its government of lacking political will. While
the Zambian government has ratified a number of international instruments to promote women in
politics, the group reports, none "have been domesticated." Cultural and traditional practices subjecting
women to male dominance have also hindered women's progress in achieving gender equality in
politics. Women face barriers such as "conflict, intimidation, negative attitudes, stereotypes by society
and lack of support from the electorate," notes the group.
                                                                  Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
The Stockholm-based Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) reports that women
politicians across the globe confront a "masculine model" of politics. In many cases they lack political
party support and have no access to quality education and training to enter politics. "Political life is
organized for male norms and values and in many cases even for male life-styles," notes Ms. Margaret
Dongo, a Zimbabwean politician. "But this must and will change." Zimbabwe is one of four countries
in sub-Saharan Africa where the proportion of female parliamentarians declined during elections in

Legislated quotas are "hopelessly wrong," Chief Whip Douglas Gibson of the opposition Democratic
Alliance in South Africa told the women's advocacy group Gender Links. "Would you then say that 10
per cent of the cricket team should be white and the rest black because that is the make up of the
nation? You would not, because not everyone wants to play cricket." Unlike the ruling ANC, the
Democratic Alliance does not reserve seats for women.

More needs to be done

Simply increasing women's share of seats in parliament alone is not a solution, notes the UNIFEM
report. It does not guarantee that they will make decisions that benefit the majority of women. "It can
only level the playing field on which women battle for equality," reports the UN agency. Many factors
hinder elected women from promoting laws that aid women. These may include limits on policy
choices parliamentarians can make due to the loan conditions set by international financial institutions.
They may also be restrained by "national constitutions that hamper parliamentary power in relation to
the executive powers of government and by political parties that exert strong discipline over their
members," notes UNIFEM.

Some gender activists also argue that quotas may constitute a "glass ceiling" beyond which women
cannot go unless they engage in additional struggle. Others contend that women who come into power
under such a system may be undervalued or viewed as not politically deserving. Quotas "can only be a
transitory solution not a cure for the makings of a true democracy," says Mrs. Mata Sy Diallo, former
vice-president of the Senegalese National Assembly.

The IDEA institute in Stockholm argues women politicians around the world are at a disadvantage in
terms of financial resources, since women are a majority of the world's poor and in many patriarchal
societies cannot own property and do not have money of their own. Despite such hindrances, a recent
IDEA study recommends that women around the world learn the rules of politics, create conditions that
allow more women to participate and then eventually change the rules to suit the needs of the majority
of women.

According to Ms. Birgitta Dahl, a Swedish parliamentarian, "Political parties, the educational system,
non-governmental organizations, trade unions, churches - all must take responsibility within their own
organization to systematically promote women's participation, from the bottom up."

South Africa's Speaker of Parliament Frene Ginwala insists that the main responsibility falls on women
themselves. "In any society and situation it is those most affected who must bring about change," she
says. "Those who are privileged benefit from a system that marginalizes others. It is up to us, the

Asia and the Pacific

        This third and final region of the Commonwealth body is the most widespread geographically –
from Pakistan and India to Australia and New Zealand to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Within these sub-
regions, there is an incredible diversity of language, culture, religion – all of which contribute to the
                                                                Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
varying attitudes towards women in politics. From Pakistan and rural areas of India, we in the West
hear a great deal about the active subjugation of women in fundamentalist Muslim communities, from
socio-economic repression to honour killings. In such cases, advances for women in politics and
decision-making arenas must be regarded as relative, and the reality of current attitudes towards women
must be acknowledged.

        A report released this week on September 20th from the United Nations Development
Program provided a brief, but conclusive report on the status of women in Asia and the Pacific.
The bottom line: that even with significant action and effective programming, it will likely take 50
years for the status of women’s representation of politics to improve substantially. Equally as
imperative to these nations, the documented relationship between equal opportunity and
economic development indicates that if women do not gain political autonomy, the economies of
these nations will be severely stymied. With the exceptions of Australia and New Zealand, Pacific
nations rank overall the lowest in the world in female representation in politics, trailing behind
even nations of the Arab League. “A political system where half the population does not fully
participate limits the opportunity for men and women to influence and benefit from political and
economic decisions,” says Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Director of UNDP’s Democratic Governance
Group.xvi As the gap between wealthy and poor nations continues to widen, international
organizations such as the UNDP continue to stress how crucial it is for women to be represented
equally, in order to ensure the positive development of these nations within the global

        What this also indicates is that if women in nations such as Vanatu, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka,
Singapore, the Maldives, and others are to successfully pursue equal representation, they will
require aid and example from other nations. On August 30th 2012, Australia’s first female Prime
Minister Julia Gillard pledged significant funds whose purpose will be to promote raising the
status of women in the Pacific Islands.xvii The government also recently set up Thai Women
Empowerment Funds to stimulate jobs for women, thereby assisting them to become active in
their administrations.

        The extensive report carefully examined the variety of determinants when it comes to
women’s inclusion or exclusion in the political processes of their countries. As each nation has a
very different set of circumstances, attitudes, political histories, and more, it is important that
solutions proposed be flexible and adaptable to each nation’s particular needs. The lead author of
the report noted: “It is not just a simple formula of add women and stir. There are many other
windows of opportunities for countries to improve the situation for women in politics.”xviii The
report yielded a six point plan, suggesting a variety of methods that nations and citizens may
employ to increase women’s ability to participate in politics:

    1. Constitutional reform includes expanding rights to vote and to hold public office, removing
       any residual forms of sex discrimination. Constitutions can also incorporate positive action
       provisions, including specifying reserved seats or the requirement for legal quotas.
    2. Electoral, campaign finance, and party laws regulate the nomination, campaigning, and
       election process for entering parliaments. The study demonstrates that countries using
       proportional representation party lists and mixed electoral systems included on average more
       women in their lower house of parliament.
    3. Reserved seats and legal gender quotas are a related strategy which has been carried out
       during the last decade in almost a dozen Asia-Pacific nations. Overall the study demonstrates
       that the proportion of women elected to parliament during the last decade rose at a faster pace
       in Asia-Pacific countries which had implemented legal gender quotas compared with those
       which had not used these measures.
    4. Party selection rules and nomination procedures are also vital for achieving gender balance
       in elected office. The design and implementation of party quotas varies across and within
                                                                   Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
       countries, for example in their target levels, how far there is rank ordering on party lists, and
       how far formal rules are respected in practice.
    5. Capacity development policies and programmes, especially by civil society organizations
       working outside of parties, involving equal opportunity initiatives, have been widely used.
       These can include candidate training, induction and mentoring programmes, recruitment
       initiatives, and awareness campaigns to counter stereotyping of candidates according to their
    6. Gender-sensitive rules and procedures in elected bodies will help women candidates to do
       their jobs once in office. Gender issues should be integrated into all parliamentary committees,
       debates, action plans, commissions, report and legislation to make sure that there are equal
       opportunities for women and men members.

         With only 11% of representation of women in Lok Sabha and 10.7% in Rajya Sabha, India
ranks 105th in the world, according to the latest comparative data released by the Inter-Parliamentary
Union, an international organisation that works for promoting democracy in the world. India, the
world's largest democracy, has only 60 women lawmakers in the current 543-member Lok Sabha, while
there are 24 women MPs out of 240 members in Rajya Sabha at present. Two seats in Lok Sabha and
five in the Upper House have been lying vacant. While India shares the 105th position with West
African country Cote d'Ivoire, it is ranked 85 places below Nepal and 53 places behind Pakistan. Even
China at 60th spot and Bangladesh at 65 are well above India, according to the IPU data that are based
on information provided by Parliaments by December 31, 2011.

          Only Sri Lanka and Myanmar are the neighbouring countries which are placed below India at
129 and 134 spots in the list respectively. This sordid picture of women's participation in politics in the
country has led women activists to demand greater political representation and call for the passage of
the bill that promises 33% reservation to women in Parliament. Indian women activists continue to put
pressure on the government to pass pending legislations that would greatly benefit women, like the
Women’s Reservation Bill, arguing that if village panchayats can have 50% reservation for women,
then why can Parliament not reserve 33%?

         Since the late 1990s, a number of women’s organizations in Sri Lanka have been demanding
for 30% quota for women at least at the local level. In the period 2000 – 2002, the International Centre
for Ethnic Studies (ICES) undertook a process of research, advocacy and district level mobilization on
the issue of quotas in order to create a discussion and debate within civil society and political parties,
and also to determine what kind of quota would work for women in Sri Lanka. There was significant
debate as to whether individual seats should be reserved, or if a quota should be represented by a
percentage; whether a nomination list should be open or closed; whether the system of preferential
voting at the local level should be abolished, etc. At the time the overwhelming majority of women
preferred a return to a ward system at the local level and the reservation of 1/3rd of wards for women on
a rotating basis during elections (as in India). This demand was informed by the understanding that a
mere 30% in the nomination list under the present proportional representation and preferential voting
system cannot ensure that 30% of women will in fact be elected. With the appointment of the
Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform in 2003 (as reconstituted in 2006), women’s
organizations again mobilized on the issue of quotas. The International Centre for Ethnic Studies, the
Women and Media Collective and the Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum collectively and
the Mothers and Daughters of Lanka (a network of women’s groups) presented two memorandums
making a series of recommendations which addressed the problem of women in politics.xix

In Singapore, the General Elections signaled a number of political changes. The People’s Action Party
(PAP), won only a 60 percent majority of the votes. Even more startling is the defeat of the Aljunied
Constituency in the hands of the opposition. This led to the loss of two Cabinet Ministers, one of whom
was the only woman Minister, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua. Mrs Lim became the first woman Minister in April
                                                                       Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
2009 when she was promoted to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. Concurrently she held the
posts of Second Minister for Finance and Second Minister for Transport. This indeed marked an
exciting era in politics in Singapore since she was the first Minister to have held such a high political
office, following in the footsteps of other women such as former Acting Minister Seet Ai Mee, Minister
of State Yu-Fu Yee Shoon, and Amy Khor Lean Suan, a district mayor.

As in the aftermath of every election, however, a reshuffle of the Cabinet took place. This time round,
an all-male Cabinet was announced.

At first glance, it may seem that the lack of a woman Cabinet Minister represents a step back for
Singapore since the country seemed to have been progressing in the right direction with the previous
appointment of Mrs Lim Hwee Hua. But would that have been an accurate statement especially since
the percentage of elected women Members of Parliament has tipped upwards from 20.2 percent to 21.8
percent with this passing election?No doubt putting the best team together was a major concern of the
Prime Minister. It may not be surprising that not even one woman was appointed since gender
representation has a low priority in Singapore politics.

In fact, it must be noted that when Mrs Lim Hwee Hua was appointed, this decision was not inspired by
notions of gender balance or gender equality. Rather Mrs Lim was appointed because of her capability,
strengths and achievements in contributing to the building of the nation.xx

UN Women describes the importance of women’s representation in politics as follows:

          It is a necessary condition for women’s interests to be taken into account
          Increased representation will put Governments in a better position to plan and implement and
           practices, i.e. gender sensitive legislation and effective policies that equally serve the needs of
           women and men
          Increased numbers of women bring the critical mass necessary to bring about a visible
           difference on the style and content of political decision-making that would ensure gender-
           responsive governance

        "Persistent stereotypical attitudes towards women continue to pose a challenge to achieving
gender equality. The stresses and vulnerabilities faced by women as a result of HIV/AIDS, the
persistent scourge of violence against women, the risks associated with the pursuit of transactional sex
and the plague of gender-related poverty are some of the prevalent social issues that negatively impact
on the quality of life for women of the Region. Insufficient access to, or control of, economic resources
and continuous low levels of participation in decision-making processes, including representation in
governments, continue to hamper women's advancement and in so doing, will have implications for the
Community's development".

                                                   - Edwin W. Carrginton, International Women’s Day 2005

Important Questions to Ask:

  I.       How can specific development projects such as food security and education help empower
           women to become more involved in the decision making processes that govern their
           communities, lives, and nations?
 II.       What are the strengths and weaknesses of gender quota laws? Should they be implemented
           globally as an effective way to ensure the representation of women, or does it contradict the
           ideal of women achieving political status on their own merits and not because of a policy
           passed by other men?
                                                                   Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
III.       If so much of women’s empowerment has to do with development and equal opportunity, why
           is it that women in developed nations continue to struggle for equal representation as much as
           women in less developed nations?
IV.        How can women in developed countries effectively combat the perception that ‘feminism’ and
           women’s empowerment activism is no longer necessary?
 V.        To what extent should countries become involved in the political processes of other countries
           with the intent of bringing more women to the forefront of their governments?
VI.        To what extent is the process of including women in politics a cultural journey that nations
           must undergo naturally, without the interference of other nations who wish to impose their
           cultural values and moral standards on their governments?

Excellent sources of further research:

          The Commonwealth Secretariat:
          The Commonwealth on Gender:
          Canada’s commitment to gender equality and the advancement of women’s rights
          Equal Voice:
          Women in National Parliaments: Rankings -
          Women in Caribbean Politics:
          UNIFEM: Women for Women International
          UN Women:
          Video: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in India -
          What is the role of women in Indian politics?
          Commonwealth of Learning: Women’s Empowerment -
          The Asia Foundation: Women’s Empowerment Program -
          Sri Lanka – United Nations Friendship Organization (SUNFO): Women’s Empowerment
          Australian Government: Ending violence against women in the Pacific -
          “In Pakistani Politics, its still a man’s world” -
          Nation by nation catalogue of women in politics in Asia and the Pacific:
                                                                                Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

i Rwandan women
iii Women in Politics: Still Searching for an Equal Voice, Canadian Parliamentary Review
iv CBC Interactive ‘Women in Politics’
v “Women still behind in representation in Canadian politics despite Horwath’s

leadership success” Huffington Post 9/17/11
vi World and Regional Averages –                 Women in National Parliaments
vii ConflictPrevention and Peace Forum: “Presence without Empowerment? Women in
Politics in Lain America and the Caribbean” p. 3
viii Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum: “Presence                    without Empowerment? Women in
Politics in Lain America and the Caribbean” p. 6
ix Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum: “Presence                    without Empowerment? Women in
Politics in Lain America and the Caribbean” p. 4
x Women’s Representation in UK Politics: What can                      be done within the Law? Meg Russell,
June 2000
xi “Kenya: Women Representation in Politics is Key to Development”
xii “Feminism in Kenya: a new narrative” Brooke Elise Axtell
xiv   “Can a sex strike solve Togo’s political problems?” August 28 2012, Melinda Ozongwu,
xv “Women break into African politics” Gusimai Mutume, April 15 2004, Africa                                 Recovery –
Africa Renewal
xvi “UNDP offers six-point plan to fast track women in politics in Asia-Pacific”
                                                                            Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

xvii   “Australia launches major initiative to empower Pacific Islands women”
xviii “UNDP offers six-point plan to fast          track women in politics in Asia-Pacific”
xix Women in Politics in Sri Lanka
xx Singapore General Election

Topic area B: Violence Against Women

      Deeply rooted in societal norms and deep-seated systems of structural violence, violence
against women is a complex problem whose remedy presents one of the most difficult
challenges of our time. Both a form of discrimination and a violation of women’s human rights,
violence against women is absolutely unacceptable, regardless of the actor—the state, family
members, spouses, strangers—and the context—the public or private sphere, times of conflict
or times of stability. Violence against women is not simply an accumulation of random,
unrelated acts: it is the manifestation of gendered power imbalances and entrenched structures
of gender inequality.
       The official definition of gender-based violence, set forth in General Recommendation
No. 19 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, is “violence
that is directed against a woman because she is a woman, or violence that affects women
disproportionately” and encompasses “acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or
suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty.”35
       The Recommendation’s definition designates such violence, which forestalls women
from enjoying their rights as guaranteed under international law, as a both a form of
discrimination and a violation of women’s human rights. Although it may seem like a
terminological minutia, the classing of violence against women as a human rights concern has
significant legal consequences. Transforming claims on the state to enact all appropriate
measures to address violence against women from discretionary matters into legal entitlements,
such a classification illuminates the responsibilities of states to prevent, protect against, and
punish such acts of violence, and clarifies their accountability if they fail to do so. It further
guarantees individuals worldwide access to human rights tools and mechanisms, from treaty
bodies to criminal tribunals. Alternative strategies for addressing violence against women
include criminal justice, development, education, health, and peacebuilding and security
      The statistics are both abundant (albeit far from comprehensive) and adamant: violence
against women is a serious and pervasive problem in societies worldwide. Surveys conducted
by the U.N. in over seventy countries have revealed that a considerable proportion of women
are victims of violence at some point in their lives, whether it be physical, psychological, or
sexual.37 Given pervasive underreporting of crimes of sexual violence—a WHO study using
data from 24,000 women in 10 countries found that between 55% and 95% of women
physically abused by their partners never contacted the authorities—it is likely that the
percentages are even higher than predicted.38
         Lacking political will to engage with the problem in a comprehensive manner, states
                                                               Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

have yet to channel sufficient resources into tackling the problem, leaving acts of violence
against women under-investigated and under-prosecuted, in addition to being underreported.
By and large, they have failed to foster a political and social climate in which violence against
women no longer remains acceptable; neither have they made satisfactory headway in
confronting the stereotypes and attitudes that undergird male’s acts of violence against women.
Even if women do report being victims of violence, the process of bringing their cases through
the criminal justice system often entails re- victimization at the hands of police and prosecutors.
What’s more, police fail to provide protection against the accused for women in a shocking
number of cases; the mere act of speaking up can thus seriously endanger a woman’s safety.40

Forms of Violence Against Women

     Violence against women assumes a multitude of forms, from physical, sexual, and
psychological violence to economic abuse and exploitation. These forms are by no means
mutually exclusive: they are often connected and reinforcing.

Violence Against Women within the family
      Violence against women within the family has numerous manifestations, including
battery, marital rape, sexual abuse of female children in the household, violence inflicted on
domestic workers, and alternative forms of exploitation. Depending on their country of
residence, between 13 and 61 percent of women worldwide will be the victim of one of these
forms of violence during their lifetime.41 Domestic violence is a particularly thorny issue, as
the perception of violence occurring between intimate partners as a private matter, beyond the
pale of state intervention, persists. Since states have a responsibility under international law to
undertake preventative, investigative, and remedial measures with regards to torture,
classifying domestic violence as a form of torture places a duty on states to provide women
with sufficient protection against it. This position is grounded in customary international law,
which deems many acts of sexual violence, including rape, gang rape, abduction, sexual
slavery, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, and sexual mutilation, as acts of torture which
constitute serious breaches of the Geneva Convention.42
      The most common form of violence against women is physical violence perpetrated by
an intimate partner: nearly one-quarter of women worldwide will be the target of such violence
at some point in their lives, while one-third of young girls report that their first sexual
experience was forced.43 Sexual violence inflicted by an intimate partner—which includes
abusive sexual encounters; forcing a woman to engage in a sexual act without her consent;
denying the right to use contraception or to adopt other measures to protect against sexually
transmitted diseases; and attempting (whether successfully or not) to engage in a sex act with a
woman who is disabled, ill, or otherwise impaired—is widespread. So too is psychological or
emotional violence inflicted by an intimate partner, which reaches levels ranging from 10
percent in Egypt to 51 percent in Chile according to a similar study.44 Unfortunately, marriage
often serves to both legitimize and condone these acts: only 27 states recognize sexual violence
within a marriage as a crime.45 Economic violence, which entails refusing a women access to
or control over essential resources, is also common.46 In its most extreme form, intimate
partner violence can result in murder, also known as femicide. Femicide, the gender-based
                                                              Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

murder of a woman, is of different nature than homicide and commonly involves sexual
violence. In Australia, Canada,Israel, South Africa, and the United States, forty to seventy
percent of female murder victims were murdered by their male partners.47

Harmful Traditional Practices
       Acts of violence against women that fall under this category include female infanticide
and prenatal sex selection, early marriage (defined as the marriage of a child—a person under
the age of 18), dowry-related violence, female genital mutilation and cutting, crimes
committed against women in the name of “honor,” and maltreatment of widows (including
encouraging them to commit suicide, accusations of witchcraft, and property-related violence
at the hands of in-laws).48
Female genital mutilation is the removal of part of all of the external female genitalia; in its
more extreme form, the female has the entirety of her genitalia removed and then sewn back
together, leaving behind a small hole for menstruation and intercourse. An estimated 135
million girls and women currently alive have experienced female genital mutilation, while two
million girls per year are at risk.49 Performed as a ritual marking the acceptance of a woman
into society and symbolizing her readiness for marriage, the procedure is believed to render
females more submissive by taking away their ability to experience sexual pleasure. It thus
functions to socialize women into restrictive gender roles (signifying their containment within
the domestic sphere) and places their bodies and sexuality firmly within the control of their
patriarchal societies. In many cultures, women who do not undergo the procedure are rendered
social pariahs and are unable to marry, thus placing them in a position of extreme economic
      Preference for sons, which includes female infanticide, prenatal sex selection (in the
form of selective abortion of female fetuses), and the systematic neglect of girls, has resulted in
adverse female-male sex ratios and startling rates of female infanticide, particularly in
Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. A study conducted in India concluded that such
practices had resulted in more than 500,000 “missing” girls per year for the past two decades.
Early marriage of girls, especially when they is made to bear children, can jeopardize their
health and their education, force them into economic dependency on males, and put them at
elevated risk for HIV infection. The practice is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and South
Asia, where over 30 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 are married. Forced marriage, meaning a
marriage where at least one of the parties does not give their free and valid consent, can
involve threats, kidnapping, imprisonment, rape, and even murder. Dowry-related femicide is
common in Asia: in India, an estimated 6,822 women were killed in such acts.52
      Abuses perpetrated against women in the name of honor are also common. Honor is a
nebulous cultural concept connected with sexual relations, girls’ virginity, and marital fidelity;
in many societies, it is symbolically embodied by women. Socioeconomic factors play into
such associations—a dearth of economic development and opportunity can lead men to esteem
honor as means of maintaining their social status—as do widespread conceptions of women as
objects, commodities, and property “belonging” to men, rather than as autonomous agents.
Women suspected of pre- or extra-marital sexual relations, victims of rape or sexual assault,
females who seek divorces or attempt to escape from marital violence, and even women who
are deemed to dress inappropriately can be held to have tarnished their own honor, and by
extension, the honor of their families.53 Male family members, oftentimes brothers and fathers,
                                                            Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

believe that no other option, save killing the woman, can rectify the perceived breach of honor.
Sometimes women are coerced by their families to commit suicide, for fear of the legal
prosecution of a male relative. These so-called honor killings claim the lives of approximately
5,000 women each year. Under Islamic law, female rape victims who are unable to provide
unequivocal evidence can be accused of the crime of zina (extramarital sex, considered one of
the greatest sins in Islam), for which the prescribed punishment is death by public stoning.54
Fear of becoming of a victim of such practices seriously impacts many women’s lives and
makes it nearly impossible for them to seek justice against men who have raped or otherwise
sexually violated them. Communal acceptance and complicity in such acts leads to the
understanding that honor is a private matter in which law enforcement officials are not entitled
to meddle.

Violence Against Women in the Community
       Sexual harassment is a commonplace occurrence in the majority of women’s lives. Fifty
percent of women surveyed in the European Union stated that they had experienced sexual
harassment in the workplace, while in Malawi, an equal percentage of girls reported
comparable experiences at school.55 Thirty to forty percent of female workers in Asia-Pacific
countries report some form of harassment, whether verbal, physical, or sexual, on the job.
Most of the hundreds of thousands of people trafficked annually are women, many of whom
are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced marriage. Trafficking— defined
by the U.N. as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by
means of the threat of use of force or other forms of coercion...for the purpose of
exploitation”—implicates numerous actors, from families and local brokers to international
criminal networks and immigration authorities.57 Many of the female victims are raped and
beaten frequently in efforts to break them physically and emotionally, or to punish them for
refusing to have unprotected sex. It is most common in countries in Central and Southeast
Europe, West Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, while the most common destinations
for trafficked women are countries in Western Europe, Asia, and North America. Despite the
extent of the problem, the number of traffickers who are prosecuted and convicted is
shockingly low.58
      Violence against women perpetrated or condoned by the state can result in suspension of
a nation’s membership in the Commonwealth for not complying with agreed upon human
rights standards.
Through its agents and public policies, the state can perpetrate physical, sexual, and
psychological violence against women. The phrase “state agents” refers to any person in a
capacity to exercise state authority such as members of the legislative, executive, and judicial
branches, in addition to law enforcement officials, social security officials, prison guards,
immigration officials, and military and security forces. State agents can commit acts of
violence against women in an explicit, physical fashion through rape, sexual harassment, and
molestation, or in a more indirect fashion through state laws and policies (such as those that
fail to acknowledge women’s autonomy and agency and sanction men’s control over
women).59 National legislation can also have unintended, but no less damaging, gender-
specific consequences: for example, the one-child only policy in China, which has lead to a
rise in female infanticide. Custodial rape (rape perpetrated by any state-owned institution or
agent) is particularly common in prisons, police custody, and other detention facilities where
the power differential between females and male authority figures is heightened, and the power
                                                             Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

of women to refuse to consent is almost non-existent. In these cases, violence against women,
typically sexual in nature (such as the act or threat of rape, sexual harassment, virginity
“testing,” etc.), is often employed as a method of torture.60

Violence Against Women in Armed Conflict

       Women’s experience during periods of armed conflict is unique and distinct from that of
men. They endure myriad forms of physical, sexual, and psychological violence at the hands of
both state and non-state actors, including: murder; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or
degrading punishment; abductions; maiming and mutilation; forced recruitment into the armed
forces; sexual slavery and exploitation; rape; arbitrary detention; forced prostitution; forced
abortion; and forced sterilization.61 Rape is an alarmingly quotidian occurrence in conflict and
post-conflict situations worldwide, including such as in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Uganda, and the
former Yugoslavia. During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, between 250,000 and 500,000
women were raped; during the conflict in Bosnia in the early 1990s, between 20,000 and
50,000 women were raped.62 Female refugees are a particularly vulnerable target for such
attacks, both in the context of the refugee camp and during the processes of re-integration into
their countries of origin, where they are frequently targeted as punishment for having fled.63
      These acts of rape are not simply stochastic events: they are the result of a programmatic
effort to humiliate and intimidate adversaries, extract information, “reward” soldiers, spread
political terror, and knowingly infect people with HIV. Indeed, in these cases, rape is being
employed as a tactic of war or, when women and girls of a particular ethnic or religious group
are targeted, as a tool of ethnic cleansing.64 In many societies, women’s purity is synonymous
with the society’s honor; in such settings, where females are understood to be the transmitters
of culture and community, systematic acts of rape have devastating results on societal cohesion
and self-identification.65 Women are raped in order to humiliate their male relatives and
spouses, who are often forced to watch the act. In societies where children must assume the
ethnicity of their fathers, women are raped by “enemy” males and made to bear children, while
women who are already pregnant are made to miscarry through physical attacks.66 Both the
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the ad hoc International Criminal
Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (the ICTY and ICTR, respectively) have
classified rape and sexual violence by combatants during armed conflict as war crimes and
crimes against humanity. Under these statutes, sexual violence can, in certain cases, can
constitute an act of genocide.67
       Unfortunately, the vast majority of perpetrators of such acts are never punished. This
culture of impunity is grounded in a unspoken acceptance of sexual violence as an inevitable
occurrence in situations of conflict, and is perpetuated by threats and reprisals directed against
those who reveal abuses, as well as laws granting amnesty to perpetrators as part of peace-
making agreements. This lack of punishment is exacerbated by massive underreporting of
crimes of rape. Many females fear shame and stigmatization by their spouses, families, and
communities if they admit to being raped, or re-victimization by the criminal justice systems in
their societies.68 The fear that they will not be believed, or that they will be blamed for the
incident, haunts rape victims, who know that such accusations would render them vulnerable
to acts of retaliatory violence (either from the perpetrators or from family members who
believe that the confession has brought them dishonor). In light of the socioeconomic
                                                              Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

dependence of women on men in myriad societies, reporting a rape and risking being divorced
or rendered unmarriageable is simply not an option for victims.69

Causes of Violence Against Women

       Until recently, sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence were deemed to stem
from men’s inability to control their sexual desires. Under this theory, since men have
difficulty restraining themselves, women who dress or act in a provocative manner are
provoking their own rape. The myth of the woman asking to be raped resulted in the drawing
of a dangerous distinction between “true” and “false” rapes: the former, cases where women
bore no responsibility for their own rape; the latter, cases where women incited the attack with
their own promiscuous behavior—a fact which somehow rendered the act less egregious.
Despite the challenges of feminist activities, the perverse views that women, on some
psychological level, want to be raped, and that sexual assault is an act of desire, rather than an
act of violence, persist.70 As a result, unlike any other crime, women who are raped are
blamed for the crimes committed against them. Additional, and equally damaging, myths about
rape persist, including the notion that the absence of physical injuries or resistance on the part
of the victim denotes her consent to the act, or the notion that women “cry rape” in order to
exact revenge on men. Legal systems in many countries reinforce these myths—for example,
through unrealistically restrictive definitions of sexual assault that require proof of “force” on
the part of the perpetrator and “resistance” on the part of the victim.71 Today, more accurate
understandings of violence against women, particularly sexual violence, hold that such acts are
manifestations of entrenched cultural norms of male dominance and means for guaranteeing
female subordination. It both stems from and reinforces a global culture of discrimination
against women: the direct result of societal norms, which devalue women and make
commodities of their bodies, it also serves to ensure women’s subordination and their
performance of traditional gender roles. When a women is made the victim of sexual violence
for her failure (whether actual or perceived) to adhere to the social norms governing women’s
conduct, the act is not merely individual: it has punitive and controlling functions. This
understanding is supported by studies showing that violent acts against women become more
prevalent during times of political, economic, and social transition, when men feel a loss of
control over their surroundings.72 Violence against women can also be contextualized
historically: legal frameworks have long rendered women the property of men, whether they be
fathers or husbands. These frameworks lend credence to the notion that husbands are entitled
to unrestricted sexual access to their wives, therein legitimizing policies that fail to criminalize
marital rape.73
       Cultural norms such as male honor, male aggressiveness, and notions of men’s sexual
entitlement all perpetuate violence against women. Such cultural “rules” and attitudes about
sex mold, structure, and constrict the range of acceptable behaviors for men and women,
cultivating environments in which violence against women is not only permissible, but also
sanctioned. Not surprisingly, the incidence of acts of violence against women is higher in
societies where patterns of machismo are more deeply entrenched (for example, through a lack
of female socioeconomic and political empowerment and through rigid enforcement of the
gendered division of labor).74 Cultural norms such as male aggressiveness, and notions of the
sexual entitlement of men perpetuate violence against women.
                                                              Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Consequences and Costs of Violence Against Women
       The health consequences of violence against women are severe and include physical,
psychological, and reproductive damage. According to a study by the World Bank, domestic
violence and rape result in five percent of the disease burden for women aged 15 to 44 in
developing countries and 19 percent of the burden in developed countries. This study found
that the health burden from gender-based victimization among women of said age group is on
an equal level with the burdens imposed by diseases high on the international health agenda,
including HIV, tuberculosis, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.75
       Violence both before and during pregnancy has serious repercussions for mother and
fetus, resulting in high-risk pregnancies and pregnancy complications, such as low birth weight
and miscarriage. Sexual violence can result in genital injuries and serious gynecological
complications, in addition to placing women at high risk of contracting STIs and HIV/AIDS.
Fear of a violent reprisal prevents women from obtaining information and treatment for these
diseases.76 Depression is one of the more subtle, but incredibly dilapidating, consequences of
sexual violence: female victims have a heightened risk of alcohol and substance abuse, anxiety,
suicide, post-traumatic stress, rape trauma syndrome, and other trauma-related mental health
issues. Feelings of self- blame, alongside the “social death” that many female victims
experience in the form of ostracism from their families and communities, only intensifies the
psychological damage inflicted by the original act of violence.77
       Female genital mutilation, in particular, can wreak dire physical, sexual, and mental
consequences on the women who undergo the procedure. Typically performed in unsanitary
conditions using such objects as broken glass, tin can lids, blunt knives, and scissors, without
anesthesia or antibiotics, the female is immobilized for up to two months after the procedure
while the wound heals. Carrying out such a major operation in such a crude fashion can lead to
chronic infection, shock, hemorrhaging, cysts, sterility, and the spread of blood- borne diseases
such as HIV. In labor, women must be cut open and resewn after the fact: an intensely painful
procedure that makes childbirth extremely difficult.78 Yet, the costs of violence against
women are more extensive than direct physical and psychological damage. They include other,
less tangible costs, such as lost employment, diminished productivity, decreased ability to
participate in public life, and reduced human capital formation, in addition to the direct, and
hefty, costs of health services to treat female victims and legal fees to punish perpetrators.
Female victims of violence are more likely to drop out of school (leaving the educational
system an average of four years earlier than their peers) and are less able to participate fully in
the economy through steady, gainful employment. A 1995 study in Canada pegged the direct
costs of violence against women at more than US$900 million per year, including US$617
million in criminal justice system costs, US$169 million in law enforcement costs, and
US$265 million in counseling and training costs. A 2004 study in the U.K. estimated the direct
and indirect costs of domestic violence to be £23 billion (or US$38 billion) per year.79
Children of women who experience violence are also at increased risk for health problems,
stunted academic achievement, and behavioral disorders. They are also more likely to engage
in violent behaviors themselves. Indeed, models of psychological development show that
experiencing, or even witnessing, acts of domestic violence can result in long-term patterns of
domestic violence and unhealthy relationships later in life. Such intergenerational transmission
of violent behaviors has a significant cost in political and social instability.80

Proposed Solutions
                                                             Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Reform the Criminal Justice System:

More vigorous arrest and prosecution policies are needed, not only to bring perpetrators of
violence against women to justice, but also to make a statement to society as a whole that acts
of violence against women are serious offenses that will not be tolerated. To begin with, more
earnest efforts to investigate incidents of violence against women in a prompt, thorough, and
impartial manner that does not degrade the victims are necessary. In addition, states must
undertake initiatives to increase the number of perpetrators of violence against women who are
prosecuted and punished. Criminal proceedings must be conducted in a gender-sensitive
manner that ensures that women are not re-victimized in the trial proceedings. This entails
respecting the right of the female to privacy, dignity, and confidentiality. Such objectives could
be realized through measures such as victim support and protection services and laws that
prohibit the introduction of extraneous evidence about a woman’s sexual history during
proceedings for sexual assault.149
      In addition, fair and effective remedies for female victims of violence must be provided.
This requires that victims have access to judicial proceedings and receive reparations
commensurate to the physical and mental harm suffered and the extent of the violation of the
woman’s rights. Proportionate sentencing policies can be enforced by establishing minimum
sentences for specific crimes, such as rape. Alongside criminal measures, women must also be
provided with access to civil remedies—such as restraining orders, laws that enable lawsuits
against perpetrators and state agents for monetary restitution, anti-discrimination laws that
classify acts of violence against women as violations of women’s civil rights, and victim
compensation funds that include resources for female victims of violence.150

Provide Support Services:
       Female victims of violence must be provided with sufficient access to rehabilitative and
restitutive services, including shelters, medical treatment, psychological support and
counseling, hotlines, shelters, and legal assistance (including free legal aid when necessary).
To allow female victims access to better health services, victim service centers could be
streamlined into the health system. Women need to have ready access to such sexual assault
centers, both to provide for their immediate health needs and to ensure that they can obtain the
evidence necessary for a prosecution. These services must maintain the confidentiality and
privacy of the female victim, as well as provide her with access to female staff if possible.151

Step Up Prevention Efforts:
       One recommendation has been to separate methods of prevention into three levels:
primary— stopping violent acts before they occur; secondary—responding to incidents after
they occur; and tertiary—providing long-term support and care for victims of violence. The
first level entails altering attitudes and challenging societal stereotypes which perpetuate
discrimination against women (see below); empowering women at the grassroots societal level
and at the broader political and decision-making levels; and mounting awareness-raising,
                                                              Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

advocacy, and education campaigns, starting at the community level. Campaigns should both
serve to educate women about their rights and the services available to them, as well as express
a zero tolerance policy toward acts of violence. To be most effective, they should utilize
multiple forms of media, including print, television, radio, and public demonstrations. Efforts
should be made to remove gender-based stereotypes from state educational curricula and to
provide gender-sensitivity training for teachers, as part of a broader effort to foster a school
environment that rejects violence against women and provides space for girls to succeed on
equal terms with their male peers.152

Alter Attitudes and Behavior:
       Gender-based stereotypes and sociocultural norms play a major role in perpetuating
gender inequalities, and by extension, legitimizing violent behaviors towards women. These
stereotypes and norms must be addressed, albeit in a culturally-sensitive manner, in order to
enact a substantial and self-sustaining impact in the societal treatment of women. Numerous
legal instruments stress that arguments of cultural relativism cannot be utilized to deny women
their fundamental human rights, nor can they be invoked by states in an attempt to evade their
responsibilities under international law to address violence against women.153

Engage Men and Boys:
      Just as women and girls must be fully engaged actors in all programs and policies to
address gender-based violence, so too must men and boys. Strategies to involve males often
work at the level of prevention, including campaigns that feature prominent and positive male
role models speaking out against violence against women, and awareness-raising activities
male-.dominated groups such as the military, trade unions, sports teams, and the police.154
Implement training and capacity-building programs: In order to adequately handle cases of
violence against women in a gender-sensitive manner, state officials—from law enforcement
officers and immigration officials to judicial, medical, and social workers—must have a
holistic understanding of the nature of the problem and the appropriate methods to be utilized
in response to it. Training sessions, guidelines, and manuals can all contribute to building this
                                                              Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Topic Area C: UN Recognition of the Rights of Sexual

History and Discussion of The Problem
How does sexuality arise?
Sexual cultural norms have varied greatly over time and human cultures.1 Pre-modern
societies had no conception of sexual orientation as we do today, and defined sexuality on
different terms. Many modern thinkers, such as the philosopher Michel Foucault, have rejected
modern sexuality, with its ideas of sexual orientation, norms (etcetera) even in modern times.2
There is no clear consensus, and certainly no scientific absolutes, about human sexuality.

Ancient Sexuality
      Today, most of the societies of the world can be classified as heteronormative, or in other
words, the belief that men and women fall into distinct and complementary genders, have
natural biological and cultural roles in life, and are naturally heterosexual. In such a society,
variations from the normative heterosexuality may be tolerated to some level, but not viewed
as the norm. Despite its prominence in today’s world, heteronormativity is a comparatively
recent human cultural phenomenon, arising only in the Middle Ages. The terms
heterosexuality and homosexuality are anachronistic for the ancient world, since there is no
single word in any ancient language with the same meaning as either modern concept, nor was
there any sense that a man was defined by his gender choices in love-making; “in the ancient
world so few people cared to categorise their contemporaries on the basis of the gender to
which they were erotically attracted that no dichotomy to express this distinction was in
common use”, sexual historian James Botwell has noted.3
Many pre-Christian European cultures were, by modern definitions, functionally bisexual or, at
least, showed greater incidence of bisexuality or homosexuality than the cultures of today.4
Romantic and reproductive sexuality was often separated, and sometimes different stages of
sexuality held important religious or cultural significance – as they still do today in some of the
indigenous cultures of the Pacific Rim. In most of the Hellenic cultures of Greece for example,
young males’ first relationships were culturally expected to be with older men. This tradition
was referred to as paiderastia by the Hellenes and was both idealised and criticised in Greek
culture and thought. Hellenists relate its appearance to the development of homosocial culture
in the late 7th century BCE, characterised also by athletic and artistic nudity, delayed marriage
for aristocrats, and the total exclusion of women from the social and political sphere. These
pederastic relationships were regarded as an important rite of passage. The older partner – an
erastes – was expected to act as a
                                                              Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

mentor and guardian for the younger – the eromenos – and these relationships were important
tools of education and socialisation to the various Greek states. The extent to which the
relationship between the erostes and the eromenes was sexual varies greatly between cultures
and time periods, but it is certain that the Ancient Greeks regarded neither gender (nor indeed
age) as important in the selection of sexual partners. Generally, it was accepted that after a
certain point a young man would marry and begin a family of his own, becoming in turn an
eromenos in the future. Some of the greatest characters of Greek-descended Western epic, such
as Achilles and Patroclus, Apollo and Hyacinthus and (in some versions) David and Jonathan
are archetypes of this form of homosexual relationship. This compartmentalisation of
reproductive and social love was a common feature of ancient sexuality. The stratocratic5
society of Sparta, the dominant power of southern Greece for much of the Hellenistic period
and permanent rival of Athens, is an extreme example of this phenomenon. Sparta is one of the
few societies in human history to be, in modern understanding, homonormative. Reproduction,
while a necessity, was regarded as a menial task and closely regulated by the all-powerful
Spartan state. In today’s terms, Sparta is perhaps best understood as a cross between a religious
order and a military dictatorship. The Spartans themselves were a singularly aristocratic class,
supported materially by their conquered people the Helots. Their children, those that survived
the gruelling eugenicist policies of the Spartan elders, were state property, and raised officially
for Sparta’s singular purpose of war and conquest. Men and women lived separate lives, in
military or civic training respectively. Romantic attachments between men were fostered, as a
method of encouraging military cohesion. Even when a Spartan man was eventually married,
for the duty of reproduction, his bride had her head shaved and was dressed in male clothing
on her wedding night. The nuclear family, as we might recognise it, was loathed as a
characteristic of the Spartan’s unfortunate serfs.6
       The Roman world, as the successor the Hellenic, was also far more sexually diverse than
our own. Roman culture placed great emphasis on the familia – the family unit and dynasty –
so homosexuality did not have a mandated cultural position as in the Greek world. Indeed,
Romans regarded the Greek practice of paiderastia as unseemly and at certain points in the
history of Rome homosexuality was banned, though this tended to be for demographic reasons
– to promote population growth, for example – than for moral reasons. Like the Greeks, the
Romans did not see gender as any particular factor in regulating sexual behaviour. Latter
Republic and Imperial writers, eroticists and artists generally reflect same- sex sexuality
without comment until the rise of Christianity.9 The relative social position of the participants
was of more concern; to be the receptive sexual partner of any sexual act against the pedigree
of one’s class was seen as dishonourable behaviour11. Homosexual pairings in Rome were
thus strictly defined by social boundaries, with slaves or carefully selected plebeians generally
being the preferred partners of the wealthy and powerful aristocratic and senatorial classes. If
Roman homosexuality was less open than in Greece, it was no less well spread. Of the Roman
emperors, only Claudius has no recorded male lovers. Some, such as the Emperor Hadrian,
were exclusively homosexual. When Hadrian’s lover Antinous died, the entire city of
Antinopolis in Egypt was constructed in his memory and Antinous was declared a god.12 Gay
marriage was not unknown amongst the most powerful Roman aristocracy, and several Roman
emperors, including Nero, Trajan and Elagabalus, married male consorts with full imperial
rites and titles.13
       Sexual diversity was also prominent in North African cultures in the Ancient World. The
great antiquity of Ancient Egypt makes any reliable assessment of their sexual mores difficult,
but it is known that one of their most important religious myths involved the sexual seduction
of Set, the god of the desert and storms, by Horus, the god of the sky and war. Homosexuality
                                                             Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

as a part of religion and mysticism was common in the near Eastern cultures of the period, with
the notable exception of the Judeans we know as modern Jews. Indeed, many of the
proscriptions against homosexuality in the Christian bible and Jewish torah in their original
ancient Hebrew refer to the male temple prostitutes and homosexual offerings common in the
religions and cultures of their neighbours as they made their passage from Egypt to modern
Israel.14 There are many theories, outside of any religious explanation, that seek to explain
why the Judeans – uniquely, almost in their time and location – adopted such an unforgiving
sexual morality. Was it, for example, a way to further culturally define the small Judean
population and prevent assimilation of other culture’s ways? Either way, the eventual
incorporation of Judean sexual morality into the Jewish religion, and from it Abrahamic
traditions both Christian and Islamic, would have a profound effect on the understanding of
human sexuality, as the legacy of Judean sexual restriction spread across European and
Middle-Eastern cultures and pagan cultural and religious practices were suppressed, first by
early Christianity and then Islam.15
      While heteronormativity had become a cultural norm, rigorously imposed across most of
Europe and North Africa within 500 years of the fall of the Roman Empire, it remained largely
unadopted in the rest of the world.16 Given cultural and societal attitudes today, it is very
difficult to assess pre- modern sexuality in some parts of the world, including most of Africa,
Arabia and rural Asia. However, there is a legacy of cultural artefacts that can give us some
clues, in some cases, to pre-colonial attitudes.17
While largely taboo today, non-heterosexuality was known in the past, to varying degrees of
prominence, in Chinese, Japanese and Indian cultures. The classic-Indian text the Kama Sutra
addresses homosexuality, bisexuality,
transvestism and other sexual habits openly and objectively, suggesting openness to sexuality
and the erotic in the Hindu nations of pre-imperial India.18
       In the Americas, indigenous people demonstrated a unique understanding of sexuality,
focused on divergent gender. Many pre-Columbian societies believed that individuals could be
‘two-spirited’, that is possess both male and female spiritual attributes.23 Depending on the
customs of individual tribes and societies, these individuals could be socialised as members of
the opposite biological sex, fulfilling functions assigned to that gender and clothed and married
as if that were the case. In others, the ‘two-spirited’ were seen as a third gender or genderless,
and took important societal roles as shamans, mystics or healers.24 Variations and
developments on these beliefs were present across large tracts of the North and South America,
and among the aboriginal people of Australasia and the Pacific Rim. This fluid understanding
of sexuality and gender was met with shock by rigidly heteronormative Europeans as they
journeyed out from the Old World. Spanish conquistadors expressed abhorrence at the
widespread ‘sin of sodomy’ among the peoples of the current Western United States and
Mexico as they converted the New World by sword and flame.25 Like many aspects of
indigenous cultures, two-spirit sexuality was rigorously and violently suppressed as Western
sexual morality was imposed upon large portions of the world during the colonial and imperial
era, and has only recently begun to be reclaimed.26

By the Early Modern Period, heteronormativity was present across the entire globe. In the Old
                                                            Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

World, it was enforced and presumed by the all-powerful religious institutions, both Christian
and Islamic, which shaped and controlled every aspect of culture and society.27 Explorers,
conquerors and colonists carried it to the New World under a ‘civilising’ banner. Deviation
from narrowly prescribed sexual norms was, officially at least, at heinous offence in most
societies. Proscribed as grievous sins, the crimes of sodomy and buggery were capital offences
in     most jurisdictions. Sexual minorities were tracked down and eradicated by fearsome
institutions such as the Spanish Inquisition. Of course, blanket suppression was all but
impossible. In various times, in various places, sexual minorities existed underground and out
of sight. For a time, they might even be largely tolerated or overlooked by the powers-that-be,
but this was an arbitrary and capricious safety. Sexual minorities were made the scapegoats for
disasters and were subject to brutal crackdowns in times of moral panic.28

Humanism and Enlightenment
The movement for sexual minorities’ rights in the West began in the late 19th century, but it
has its roots in the Enlightenment of the 18th. The Age of Reason and the spread of humanism
had diminished religious authority in Europe, and the development of scientific method
questioned the prevailing morality of the church. Under the lofty principles that drove
revolution in America and France, that all men were created equal; equally responsible yet
equally free, prohibitions against consensual sexual activity began to be questioned by
Enlightenment philosophers. The fact that many, especially in France, were avid classicists -
aficionados for the extinct culture, morality and philosophy of Greece and Rome, probably
contributed to this view.
In 1791, Revolutionary France under its new, humanist constitution became the first country in
the world to decriminalise consenting sexual contact between adults. Non- heterosexuality had
essentially been tolerated in France in the last years of the Old Regime, among those rich
enough to pay fines and powerful enough to avoid scrutiny, as it was in many other places.
Decriminalisation marked a turning point, in that for the first time it expressly permitted free
sexuality, between people of all classes. Other countries were to follow France’s example,
most notably in Scandinavia, but it was a slow trickle as old attitudes and powers remained

Ulrichs and The German “Homophiles”
       The industrial revolution had a great impact on sexual minorities. While cities had
always been more cosmopolitan than the countryside, the coming of industrialisation and the
swelling of great metropolises such as London, New York and Berlin allowed the formation of
real communities of like- minded individuals. For the first time, homosexuals and others began
to associate and form a cohesive identity. This identity would not be well recognised today -
early sexual minority groups called themselves many things, and understood the roots of their
identity with similar inconsistency. Many of these movements were based in the then German
Empire. Though officially hostile, and no doubt repressive of common people, German
aristocrats and intelligentsia of the 19th century enjoyed relative freedom for their time. Same
sex romances were not unknown amongst the aristocratic Junkers of Prussian and Pomeranian
tradition; Germany’s greatest king, Frederick the Great, was known as a homosexual. In this
tradition, on August 29, 1867, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs became the first self-proclaimed
                                                              Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

homosexual to speak out publicly for homosexual rights when he pleaded at the Congress of
German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws - though
he identified himself as a ‘homophile.’ This was arguably the first “coming out”; Ulrichs lost
his job, but avoided jail, even though homosexuality (or homophility) was still illegal in the
Reich at that time. Two years later, the first usage of the word “homosexuality”, with today’s
meaning, appeared in a German academic journal, though it would be another 30 years before
“heterosexual” and “bisexual” were coined. By the end of the 19th century a series of scandals
in European high society, such as the very public trial of British poet and playwright Oscar
Wilde for “gross indecency” or a male prostitution scandal involving Crown Prince Yusopov
of Russia, had forced the issue of sexuality into the public consciousness. Moreover, the
writings and personalities of figures such as Wilde, who referred obliquely to “the love that
dare not speak its name”, helped the coalescent gay rights movement come together – the word
gay itself first being adopted in 1920.

From Cabaret to Concentration Camps
       The end of the First World War, and with it many of the actualities of the 19th century,
further accelerated the process of sexual liberation. As the Jazz Age burst forth in Europe and
America, sexual minority communities built up in the major cities, often associated with the
creative industries and glitterati. By the Great Depression, sexual subcultures of gay people,
drag performers and others were heavily integrated into the world of theatre, film, dance and
art. On Broadway, sexual minorities had found relative openness and acceptance, but
unsatisfied with their lot at large started to form the first gay rights organisations in America
and elsewhere. Novels and literature began to address non-heteronormative themes openly for
the first time in a thousand years, and the ensuing controversies invariably brought sexuality
further into the public discourse. Sexuality had also attracted the interest of scientific figures,
particularly in the developing field of psychology. Sigmund Freud’s new technique of
psychoanalysis was among the first to suggest that human sexuality might have many normal
variations, and that non-heterosexuals were not necessarily mentally ill or damaged. The
nascent Soviet Union, under the principles of Socialist Humanism, had equalised heterosexual
and homosexual relationships on the basis of scientific rationality (a policy that would later be
reversed under Stalin.) Research institutes and universities began to investigate the new field
of Sexology.
       By the 1930s, sexual minorities – while still criminalised and subject to persecution –
had a tacit place in the great cities of the West. Tolerance was particularly easy to buy for the
wealthy and powerful, though blackmail and other problems remained a constant danger.
Germany, the beginning of the gay rights movement in the 19th century, had become in its
nexus in the chaotic, post-war era of the Weimar Republic. The transition to democracy had
transformed German culture into a vibrant, dynamic centre of Jazz Era culture, and on the
streets of Berlin homosexuality, bisexuality, transvestism and much else was present more or
less openly. Tragically, the German springtime would not last. The fall into the Depression and
the inability of the Weimar Republic to overcome its own structural problems set the path for
the rise of Hitler’s National Socialist Party to power in 1933, on a platform of restoring
Germany’s “traditional values.” Anything remotely connected to sexual minorities, from books
to research to art, was vigorously destroyed by the Nazis. Over 8,000 homosexuals and other
‘sexual incorrigibles’ were arrested every month by the Nazi authorities, and most of them sent
to concentration camps. The German gay subculture, evocatively remembered in the musical
Cabaret and elsewhere, and the birthplace of the liberation movement, was annihilated.
                                                            Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

The Birth of The Modern Gay Rights Movement
      As Hitler plunged the world into war in 1939, sexual minorities retreated once more
behind the world of closed doors and the necessities of wartime – though, it should be noted,
hardly vanished: a War Department investigation
of the US Forces in 1944 revealed that over 40% of US military personnel in the war had “ a
closely intimate, sexual or romantic, association with another or allied serviceman contrary to
natural order” and a further 15% of those were “ongoing or habitual.” The report so alarmed
Washington that it was suppressed for over 60 years! 29 The end of the war in 1945, the
experience of non- heterosexual soldiers and the revelation of the appalling atrocities of the
Nazi regime against minorities, added new impetus to the non-heterosexual rights movement.
The Pink Triangle worn to identify homosexuals in the Nazi camps was adopted as a badge de
guerre. The 1950s and 60s saw an intractable rise in visibility, even despite crackdowns and
attempted purges of homosexual men by the authorities. In a landmark event, following the
blackmailing of several high-ranking homosexual British officials by the Soviet KGB, the
British government’s Wolfenden Commission advised in 1957 that sexual acts between
consenting adults should be decriminalized. This was also the first year the term ‘transsexual’
was applied. By the 1960s, sexual minorities had joined the tumultuous array of groups
pushing for a wider position in society across the Western world, from second wave feminists
to labour rights activists.30 These political groups began to challenge maltreatment by the
authorities and institutional indifference and hostility. Though many countries and
administrative division in the west had decriminalized sex between consenting adults by the
mid-1960s, members of sexual minorities continued to suffer habitual harassment from the
authorities as well as extreme cultural and political stigma. Violent raids on gay bars, for
example, were common, with patrons being arrested on trumped up charges. To be publically
outed in this era as a member of a sexual minority often meant the loss of one’s career as well
as family life - few people living openly alternative lifestyles. Moreover, in the United States
especially, sexual minorities were associated with radical politics and in an era of charged Cold
War ideological division exposure could result in blacklisting.31 During the Lavender Scare of
the late 1950s, for example, homosexual State Department employees were purged and
publically humiliated for supposed political unreliability due to their lifestyle. Ironically,
members of sexual minorities in the Eastern Bloc nations were accused of being infected by
‘bourgeois decadence’ and subjected to similar, if not worse, punishment.
      By 1977, the gay population of San Francisco - the refuge point for members of sexual
minorities from the entire American west - had grown so large that they were able to elect one
of their own, Harvey Milk, as the first openly gay politician in the world. Until his
assassination, Milk was a major force in framing the principles of the LGBT rights
movement.35 Two of his principles: that LGBT people should secure their community and
further their economic clout to gain political momentum, and that LGBT people have to ‘come
out’ and be visible in society to change the minds of those around them, continue to be at the
foundation of the movement today.36 After his assassination, Milk became a hero and martyr
to many people but his legacy lived on in the power of the community he had helped to create.
Even with the devastating arrival of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s, sexual minorities proved
                                                             Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

powerful enough to demand support from often-hostile governments, as well as capture
cultural discourse on the issue. The 1990s saw even greater traction,
with the arrival of homosexual marriage in some European countries and major celebrities such
as Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres ‘coming out.’37 By the turn of the millennium, sexual
minorities’ organizations - often multi-billion dollar concerns - were able to affect massive
changes across the world.38 Gay marriage or equivalent partnerships are now widespread
across Europe, and spreading in America. Judicial decisions continue to attack heteronormative
bias. With such momentum in the West, sexual minorities are now turning their attention, and
their advocacy, to other countries. Finally, scientific consensus about sexual minorities has
coalesced in the last two decades.
       The issue of the origins of sexuality has become somewhat totemic within the wider
argument surrounding sexual minorities’ rights; in a simplistic sense, this is because it relates
to the concept of natural law at the core of most human arguments. The main distinction is
whether sexuality is an innate, biologically determined factor of individuals (favored by
advocates) or a learned or chosen behavior (favored by detractors).39 It is far more difficult to
justify discriminating against someone on the basis of a natural characteristic they had no
choice in than it is someone who chose a negative behavior. We sympathize with those who
suffer racism on account of their skin color, because they did not choose their race and should
not suffer accordingly. We do not sympathize with those who steal automobiles, because they
chose to do so consciously, aware of their actions and society’s perspective. No simple, single
cause for sexual orientation (if it exists) has been conclusively demonstrated, but research
suggests that it by a combination of genetic, hormonal and environmental influences that
people develop their sexual identity. Those biological factors may involved a complex
interplay of genes and hormonal exposures during pregnancy and after birth. Furthermore, the
expression of sexuality is heavily influenced by the surrounding culture and its values.
      Psychologists and philosophers have been fascinated by sexuality since Freud and before.
Sexual orientation is an undeniably important aspect of human psychology, but once again it is
understood in a variety of different ways. Foucault, Kinsey and Freud argue to varying degrees
that human sexuality is universal (that is not limited by orientation or gender) and that relative
openness (or closedness) to that fact is determined by society. Others have argued that there
are fundamental physio-psychological differences between the brains of people of different
sexual orientations.40
In short, the issue exists beyond simplistic dualities of Nature vs. Nurture etc. Information on
various theories of sexual diversity is easy to come by, and this not economical to reproduce
here, apart perhaps from some statements from leading scientific institutions:

Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK)42
“Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no
substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood
experiences play any role in the formations of a person’s fundamental sexual orientations. It
appears that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of
genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore a natural
variation; it is not a choice.”
                                                             Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Current Situation
      Some countries are moving to act against homophobia internationally by cutting aid and
other means of political pressure, as the British government announced it would do in October
2011. Others are moving to tighten existing heterosexualist laws, such as in Uganda and Kenya.
In June 2011, the UN made its first ever affirmation of gay rights, passing a resolution in the
Human Rights Council to that effect. The cautiously worded declaration expressed “grave
concern” about abuses because of sexual orientation and commissioning a global report on
discrimination. Moreover, a formal U.N. process to document human rights abuses against
gays, including discriminatory laws and acts of violence was established. According to
Amnesty International, consensual same-sex relations are illegal in 76 countries worldwide,
while harassment and discrimination are common in many more.
The resolution was by no means universally popular. Narrowly passing 23-19, the backers
included the United States, Canada, Israel and the EU and Latin American countries.
Opposition was particularly strong in Islamic and African countries. “We are seriously
concerned,” said Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s Geneva envoy to the UN, “At the attempt to
introduce to the United Nations some notions that have no legal foundation.”46 Nigeria
claimed the proposal was against the wishes of most Africans. Mauritania called the resolution
“an attempt to replace the natural rights of human beings with unnatural rights.”47
Supporters were equally bullish. Delegates should consult bloc positions for more nuanced
views of their individual nations’ response to this complex international debate.
      At the same time as this political maneuvering, LGBT people have achieved
unprecedented visibility in Western (and thus global) popular culture. Celebrity backers such
as Lady Gaga, television sensations such as Glee and films such as Brokeback Mountain and
Milk have all vastly increased the prominence of gay issues in the Western sphere, with
associated leak-through to other domains. The It Gets Better Project of web activism, where
individuals upload supportive messages to the LGBT community after a rash of youth suicides,
has achieved major prominence in the international forum of the internet and demonstrated the
gay activists can increasingly harness globalised social media for their aims. It Gets Better has
attracted submissions from not only major celebrities, but also the US President, the British
Prime Minister and the German chancellor. These are the kind of personages that affect
international attention.

Timeline of Significant International Events:

1994 - UN Human Rights Committee, responsible for International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) declares that laws against homosexuality are in violation of human
rights in its decision Toonen v. Australia
2003 - A number of countries, predominantly European, put forward the Brazilian Resolution
at the UN Human Rights Commission stating the intention that gay rights be considered as
fundamental human rights.
2006 - International Day Against Homophobia founded; Yogyakarta Principles developed by
the International Commission of Jurists and the International Service for Human Rights.
                                                             Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

2008 - 34 member countries of the Organization of American States unanimously approves a
declaration affirming that human rights protections extend to sexual orientation and gender
identity. France announces an appeal to the UN for the universal decriminalization of
homosexuality and this later morphs into the pending European resolution to the general
2011 - The resolution submitted by South Africa requesting a study on discrimination and
sexual orientation passes In the Human Rights Council. US President Barack Obama addresses
the General
Assembly on the importance of extending human rights protections to LGBT people.

Proposed Solutions
      When considering an issue with such multi-facetted complexities of culture, morality,
law and ethics, didactic instruction as to proposed solutions will be of little assistance to
delegates. Delegates should examine the existing frameworks laid out by the Yogyakarta
Principles and proposed European resolution of 2008; they should also consider their bloc
positions as well as the underlying arguments for and against recognition of sexual minorities
in general and scientific consensus on the nature of sexuality.

Arguments For Recognizing Sexual Minorities

Sexual Minorities and The Majority Share a Common Humanity.
A common definition of discrimination is the objection to one aspect of a person when every
other aspect of them is the same as you. Sexual minorities share the same hopes, ambitions,
frailties and failings of other people - there is no more justification in shutting them out of
society than doing so to people of another race or religion.

Individual Morality Cannot Be a Guiding Force in The law.
Many people possess moral objections to sexual minorities’ lifestyles, but in a pluralistic world
the law must be determined by impersonal logic rather than any one sectional opinion, or risk
anarchy. There is no convincing logical reason to exclude sexual minorities from protection.

Recognition Would Reduce Human Suffering.
History shows that sexual minorities will continue to exist regardless of the attempts to exclude
or eradicate them. Without recognition, these individuals will live lives of pain, torment and
desperation, compounded if they are forced into societally sanctioned family life. They will be
forced underground into criminality or risky behavior, or become the victims of violence - all
with effects upon society.
                                                                Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

“Humanity’s Steps Are Slow.”
The Enlightenment principle that morality is always progressing to a future, perfect form, and
that we cannot know how we will be perceived retrospectively. Even our most basic human
rights - such as the freedom to be not enslaved - took many centuries to develop and be
Actions that once seemed acceptable, even reasonable, such as Segregation, will be scarcely
believed by our descendents. The failure to recognise sexual minorities may put us on the
wrong side of history.

For most of human history sexual minorities were accepted by societies; our current moral and
cultural stigma is an aberration.
Sexual Minorities Are ‘Natural’.
Sexual minorities are unusual, but not unnatural. They represent a perfectly normal variation in
the human species, as much as eye colour of left-handedness. They should be treated as such.
(See also: Causes of Sexuality.)

Objections to Recognizing Sexual Minorities

Many objections to the liberalization of sexual morality are presented across the world, from
differing social and cultural perspectives. The purpose of this guide is to report them
objectively, and allows delegates to conduct their own research and draw their own

Sexual Minorities are Immoral From a Religious Perspective.
The plurality of religious opinion, both negative and positive on sexual minorities and their
place in society, either in totality or in aspect, is too great to cover here but easily accessible.
The UN is a body with a respect for the place of religion in societies, but also represents a
great plurality of faiths, so religious arguments should be understood in the most Universalist
of terms possible.

Sexual Minorities are Immoral From a Secular Perspective.
Philosophers, both ancient and modern, have attacked sexual minorities for the perceived
damage they do to a contiguous society based on descent, reproduction and family. Examples
include Plato and Confucius.
                                                            Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Sexual Minorities Represent a Public Health Concern.
Sexual minorities demonstrate higher levels of depression, suicide and mental infirmity than
other sections of the population.54 They also demonstrate proportionately higher levels of
promiscuity, venereal disease, substance use (though not addiction) and incidences of some
cancers.55 They are, of course, associated with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, though the actual
significance of sexual minorities as an infection vector is disputed. HIV/AIDS remains an
infectious and terminal illness.

Sexual Minorities Represent A Public Safety Concern.
Sexual minorities can be perceived by some as sexually predatory upon heterosexuals, and this
is often aligned with a perception of sexual minorities as presenting a greater incidence of
paedophilia and other sexual criminality. Non- heterosexuals, because they do not reproduce,
must ‘recruit’ young people to become new non-heterosexuals under this logic. This may be
either directly, through sexual coercion, or indirectly through inclusive sex education in
schools, for example. (See also: Causes of Sexuality.)

Sexual Minorities Represent a ‘Slippery Slope’
Experience in America or elsewhere teaches that what begins as a plea for tolerance can
escalate into wider demands. 40 years ago, sexual minorities in America were campaigning for
legality; today, they campaign for marriage. Discrimination may be wrong, but it may also be
unwise to fundamentally alter societal institutions such as marriage for partisan interests when
the future results are unpredictable. For its own continuity, society has a stake in not
normalising non- heterosexual behaviour.

Sexual Minorities Are ‘Unnatural’.
Sexual minorities induce a visceral reaction of ‘wrongness’ in many heterosexual people (see
also: Cause of Sexuality)
Many arguments for the liberalization of sexual morality are presented across the world, from
differing social and cultural perspectives. The purpose of this guide is to report them
objectively, and allows delegates to conduct their own research and draw their own

Bloc Positions

Europe is the most liberal international bloc with regard to LGBT rights, and the originator of
                                                            Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

much of the current international discussion and action upon the issue. Membership of the
European Union requires the repeal of anti-homosexuality legislation and protection of LGBT
people’s rights is enshrined in various European Union statutes such as the Treaty of
Amsterdam. European countries were amongst the earliest to decriminalise homosexuality and
the first to legalise same-sex marriage. Of the 9 countries that have absolutely no heterosexist
discrimination, 5 are European (Belgium, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and
Spain.) Seven of the ten countries that recognise same-sex marriage are European and a further
14 European states recognise some form of partnership equivalent or near to marriage for
same-sex couples. Traditionally, there is a division between liberal North-Western Europe and
more socially conservative countries in the South East and former Soviet bloc. Nonetheless,
evidence suggests that attitudes across Europe have changed rapidly. Ireland, for example,
went from decriminalization of homosexuality to civil partnerships for same-sex couples with
the equivalent legal rights of marriage between 1991 and 2011. Several countries, most notably
France and the UK, have declared combating international discrimination against sexual
minorities to be a major effort of their foreign policy.

North and Central America, the Caribbean
There is a great diversity of situations with regard to LGBT rights in Latin and North America.
Canada is the most liberal North American nation on the issue, with nationwide same-sex
marriage since 2005 and no heterosexist discrimination remaining on the law books.
Homosexuality is legal in every Central American country but Belize, and some have some
measure of anti-discrimination ordinance. The position of LGBT people in the Caribbean is
traditionally limited. 10 Caribbean nations - mainly of the former British West Indies -
criminalize same-sex activity, and LGBT people face severe legal and extra-legal
discrimination in many others. Discrimination usually has a religious and moral dimension.
Only on European overseas possessions such as Dutch Aruba and the British Virgin Islands are
LGBT rights protected.

South America
Development, modernization and democratization in South America have resulted in a shift of
attitudes to LGBT people from a traditionally socially conservative perspective, informed by
Catholic tradition. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Argentina since 2010, and South
American countries are generally supportive of international efforts in the arena. Domestic
laws are slowly altering, with civil partnerships in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay
(and soon Venezuela and Chile) and anti-discrimination ordinances in many other countries.

LGBT rights in Africa are very limited in comparison to other areas of the world, with
homosexuality outlawed in 38 African countries. Thirteen Africans nations either expressly
decriminalise homosexuality or it is unmentioned in the legal code. In Mauritania, Sudan, and
northern Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Uganda, offenders can gain a
maximum of a life imprisonment for homosexual acts and the death penalty may soon be
imposed. The situation in Kenya, Tanzania and Sierra Leone is also perceived to be worsening
                                                             Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

for LGBT people. LGBT people across Africa face severe, often life-threatening
discrimination and bias. Witch- hunts, extrajudicial killings and ‘corrective’ rape of LGBT
people is not uncommon in many jurisdictions. Opposition to LGBT rights arises from strong
religious and cultural principles, although anti-LGBT laws themselves are often a colonial
legacy. The situation is in general perceived to be deteriorating, with antipathy towards LGBT
people growing. The role of Westerners, both liberals promoting LGBT rights in Africa and
religious conservatives opposing them, is highly controversial in Africa and abroad.
      South Africa by far has the most liberal attitudes toward gays and lesbians, with a
constitution which guarantees gay and lesbian rights, legal same-sex marriage and no
heterosexist legal discrimination. South Africa was behind the most recent successful UN
action to investigate gay rights worldwide. Actual tolerance in the country itself varies widely.

The Middle East
The Middle East is traditionally hostile to LGBT rights due to the strong Islamic structures
against homosexuality. Cyprus is the only Middle Eastern country with Commonwealth
membership where homosexuals are not persecuted under the law. In most Middle Eastern
countries homosexuality is illegal. Homosexuality is a severe taboo across the region, even in
countries where it is nominally legal. Attitudes towards LGBT people in Asia are informed by
a very different cultural history to that of the West. East Asian LGBT people face not so much
direct state repression as subtle negation through a lack of awareness and openness about
LGBT people in societies where sexuality in all aspects is a strong taboo. Sexual diversity, and
sexual rights, are not well understood. Homosexuality was criminalised in India under colonial
rule, and only legalised in 2010. The decision provoked strong opposition from conservative
Hindus and Muslims, and homosexuality is still a strong taboo in India outside the largest
cities and ‘Bollywood’ class of globalised professionals. Homosexuality remains illegal in
Myanmar, the Maldives, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Culture and tradition in former Soviet
republics is generally hostile to LGBT peoples. LGBT people in Australia, New Zealand and
their territories have many of the same legal protections and rights as heterosexual people,
though this varies by state and jurisdiction. Civil partnership is legal in New Zealand and some
Australian states. Sydney, Australia hosts one of the world’s largest and most visible LGBT

Suggestions for Further Research
The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law In Relation
to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity form much of the basis for the 2008 European
resolution and are a useful research point for delegates. Delegates may find research resources
such as Global
Gayz (an online compendium of LGBT experience in various countries)
[] as useful research

                                                                      Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Making History: The Struggle for Equal Gay and Lesbian Rights 1945-1990 (Eric Marcus)
Encyclopaedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History in America (Marc Stein)
Human Rights and Sexual Minorities: GLBT Rights in the Public Eye (Kenneth Freer)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights : A History of its Creation and Implementation
1948-1998 (Johnson Glen)
Human Rights in the Third World and Cultural Relativism (Fernando Teson)
Cultural Relativism; Perspectives in Cultural Pluralism (Melville Herskovits)
Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (John Boswell)


Topic A
22. “A Life Free of Violence: Unleashing the Power of Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality.” Strategy
2008-2011. United Nations Development Fund for Women. <

23. “Who we are.” United Nations INSTRAW. <>.

24. International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW). “Inventory of UN
system activities to eliminate VAW.”

25. UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN ACTION). “Inventory of UN system activities to eliminate

26. “Short History of the Commission on the Status of Women.”

29. “Women.” Global Issues. United Nations. <>.

30. “Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for
Women.” Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies. United Nations. Nairobi. 15-26 July 1995. <

31.“Fourth World Conference on Women.” Wikipedia. < Conference
on Women>.

32. “Short History of the Commission on the Status of Women.”

34. “Beijing +5 Process andBeyond.” Division for the Advancement of Women. <
daw/followup/bfbeyond.htm>. Also, “Ten-year Review and Appraisal of the implementation of the Beijin
Declaration and Platform for Action.” Outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly.
Commission on the Status of Women. 49th session. 28 February-11 March 2005. <

35. “General Recommendations made by the Committeee on the Elimination of Discrimation against Women.”
Division for the Advancement of Women. <
                                                                        Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

recomm.htm>. “

36. Ending Violence Against Women: from words to action.” Study of the Secretary-General. 9 October 2006.


38. “Fact Sheet.” UNiTE to End Violence Against Women. United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign. <www.>.

39. “In-depth study on all froms of VAW.” Report of the Secretary-General.

42. “Domestic Violence.” Amnesty International. <


43. “Sexual Assault.” Stop Violence Against Women. The Advocates for Human Rights. <


44.“Ending Violence Against Women: from words to action.” Study of the Secretary-General.

45.“Sexual Violence.” Amnesty International. < against-

46.“In-depth study on all forms of VAW.” Report of the Secretary-General.

47.“Ending Violence Against Women: from words to action.” Study of the Secretary-General. Forms, consequences
and costs of violence against women.

48.“In-depth study on all forms of VAW.” Report of the Secretary-General. “Sexual Violence.” Amnesty International.
Also, “Female Genital Cutting.” Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.


49. “Sexual Violence.” Amnesty International.

50. “In-depth study on all forms of VAW.” Report of the Secretary-General.

52. “Honor Killings.” Stop Violence Against Women campaign. The Advocates for Human Rights. <www.stopvaw.


53.“’Honor’ Killings.” Amnesty International. <


54.“In-depth study on all forms of VAW.” Report of the Secretary-General.

56. “Violence Against Women: from words to action.” Study of the Secretary-General.

57. “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,
Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.” Crime.” <www.>.

58. “Ending Violence Against Women: from words to action.” Study of the Secretary-General.

59. “In-depth study on all forms of VAW.” Report of the Secretary-General. “Sexual Assault.” Stop Violence Against

60. “Violence Against Women in Armed Conflict.” Amnesty International. < against-
women/stop-violence-against-women-svaw/violence-against-women-in-armed-conflict/page. do?id=1108213>.

61. “Ending Violence Against Women: from words to action.” Study of the Secretary-General.
                                                                   Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

62. “Sexual Assault.” Stop Violence Against Women.

Topic B
39. Sexual Orientation and Human Rights: The US Constitution, European Convention and Canadian
Charter (Robert Wintemute)

40. Ibid.





45. Human Rights in the Third World and Cultural Relativism (Fernando Teson)


47. Ibid.



50. Freer, Kenneth. Human Rights and Sexual Minorities: GLBT Rights in the Public Eye (Vernag and
Mueller) 2007.

51. Ibid.

52. “We recall the statement of 2006 before the Human Rights Council by 54 countries requesting the
President of the Council to produce an opportunity, at appropriate future sessions of the council, for
discussion of violations.”

53. “We commend the attention paid to those issues by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
and treaty bodies and encourage them to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations
based on sexual orientation and gender identity within their relevant mandate.”

54. Wintemute, Robert. Sexual Orientation and Human Rights: The US Constitution, European
Convention and Canadian Charter. (Clarendon) 1997.

To top