Regional Consultation with the Special Rapporteur on VAWG
The Regional Consultation on violence against women and girls in the Middle East and North Africa with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences organised by the Geneva Institute for Human Rights in cooperation with the Kuwait Union of Woman's Associations, took place in Kuwait, between the 16-18 May 2023.
The event brought together women human rights defenders and NGO representatives from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. Representatives from OHCHR, ILO and UNCHR were also present.
The three-day consultation consisted of five sessions that dealt with the following topics: an introduction on the role of the United Nations Special Procedures, an overview of the impact of culture and tradition on violence against women and girls and how to address the root causes, the consequences of armed conflict on violence against women and girls, the protection of women human rights defenders against violence and existing protection mechanisms, culturally sensitive remedies and reparations for women subjected to violence, and a roadmap to eliminate violence against women and girls in the MENA region.
The Regional consultation started with opening remarks from the President of the Kuwait Union of Woman’s Associations Ms. Sheikha Fadia Al-Saad Al-Sabah who welcomed all the participants and put an emphasis on the importance of holding regional consultations in the MENA region to strengthen our efforts to violence against women and girls. Mr. Nazar Abdelgadir Salih, Executive Director of the Geneva Institute for Human Rights highlighted the role of NGOs in the promotion and protection of human rights and stated that women rights are human rights and that human rights are universal and inalienable. Special Rapporteur on VAWG, Ms. Reem Alsalem stressed the fact that women human rights defenders and women’s organisations are the backbone of the fight to end violence against women. Their role is primordial, and she wants to know how, as an independent expert of the UN Special Procedures, she can support their work in an adequate way that is proportionate to the reality of the region. VAWG is a global challenge that should be addressed in all countries regardless of their economic situation.
Dr. Khouloud El Khatib, Associate professor in International Law and Human rights at the Lebanese University and co-founder and Executive director of LOUDER and Ms. Lamya Shalaldeh, Human Rights Defender, who are both GIHR staff, facilitated the final session on the review of recommendations.
The President of the Kuwait Union of Woman’s Associations Ms. Sheikha Fadia Al-Saad Al-Sabah, Mr. Nazar Abdelgadir Salih, Executive Director of the Geneva Institute for Human Rights and Special Rapporteur on VAWG Ms. Reem Alsalem delivered their closing statements. They expressed appreciation to all CSOs and human rights defenders for their active participation and they expressed their hope that the ideas shared in the consultation will further inform their contributions and encourage them to work jointly with each other and with the Special Rapporteur to combat violence against women and girls in the Middle East and North Africa.