HRC Advisory Committee Report “Current level of women’s representation in human rights bodies and mechanisms: ensuring gender balance”

An opportunity to advance gender parity in international justice

In 2019 and with the leadership of Mexico, GQUAL worked on getting the Human Rights Council (HRC) to address the lack of equal representation of women in the United Nations (UN) human rights bodies. The result was Resolution 41/6, which recognizes the need to overcome the underrepresentation of women through concrete measures involving States and the UN bodies linked to the selection processes. To this end, the HRC asked its Advisory Committee to prepare a report with recommendations on the subject.

This Report, called “Current level of women’s representation in human rights bodies and mechanisms: ensuring gender balance” was approved in May 2021 and constitutes a crucial document to advance gender parity in international justice.

The report highlights – as we have maintained from GQUAL – that gender parity in international justice is a corollary of the right to equality, as indicated in article 8 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), that the legitimacy and impact of international justice spaces are affected by the underrepresentation of women, and that the absence of timely information, of formal, open and transparent procedures for the selection of candidates at the national level, and of guidelines and norms that promote parity at the national level are some of the main causes to be overcome.

GQUAL celebrates this report. The institutional roadmap it proposes to address the underrepresentation of women – which was validated through a consultative process and the active participation of different actors- offers a practical action plan to be implemented by States and relevant UN spaces and can help create the necessary momentum and synergies to ensure a more representative international justice system. This roadmap should also serve as a guideline for achieving parity in other regional and international justice spaces where women remain underrepresented.

To promote the dissemination, discussion and implementation of the report, we share on this page a graphic summary of the report and a series of blog posts (developed in partnership with Opinio Juris), where experts from the fields of international human rights law, international criminal law, diplomacy and justice provide their analysis on the relevance of this report and the challenges still pending to achieve gender parity in international justice.

Further information and discussions on the report:

Resolution 41/6 of the Human Rights Council justifies and mandates this report, and Resolution 50/L.22 (of July 8, 2022, requests States and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to follow up on its implementation.

To discuss the content of the report, we partnered with Opinio Juris to organize a Symposium on Gender Representation in International Justice. You can read the blog posts here:

Ahead of the adoption of the report, GQUAL made a written contribution to the Advisory Committee and supported the organization of two regional consultations in Latin American and Africa to feed reflections from the Global South to the discussion of this Report.