Human Rights Council: integration of gender perspective and the Bangkok General Guidance

The ICJ today drew the attention of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, to the Bangkok General Guidance for Judges on Applying a Gender Perspective, in the context of a discussion of “Gender-responsive initiatives to accelerate gender equality”.

The oral statement read as follows:

“International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcomes this opportunity to share information on our ongoing work with women judges in many parts of the world, supporting them and their male colleagues to better ensure women’s access to justice and gender equality.

As part of these efforts, facilitated by the ICJ and UN Women, in 2016 judges from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Timor Leste developed and adopted The Bangkok General Guidance for Judges on Applying a Gender Perspective.

Among many other provisions, the Guidance urges States to achieve gender parity in appointments to the bench.

The Guidance provides that: “Gender equality should be a principle that guides judicial appointments. Women and men must be equally represented on the bench as they bring a diversity of perspectives, approaches and life experiences to adjudication, which influence the interpretation and application of laws.”

It further recommends that “[i]f necessary, temporary affirmative measures – like quotas which should be consistent with requirements of integrity and high competency – should be implemented in order to assure that women are adequately represented in the judiciary” and that “[e]valuation panels for the appointment and promotion of judges should be composed of men and women.”

The Guidance builds on global standards such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ provisions on equality, non-discrimination, and equal access to public service; article 10 of the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, on non-discrimination in judicial selection processes; and related articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

We hope the Bangkok Guidance will be a useful reference both in considering how to improve gender parity within the Council’s mechanisms, and as a resource for the Council and its mechanisms to cite in their analysis and recommendations to governments and other stakeholders, on improving access to justice for women in Southeast Asia and around the world.”

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