Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 07:28 Written by Jane Muthoni Tuesday, 06 March 2012 13:13
Russia is seeking to take the world back to the ‘dark’ days when human rights and who enjoyed them was the preserve of the state. With little to write about on its human rights record, Russia seems to be indirectly supporting concerted efforts by some countries to see that LGBT people do not enjoy their rights. Russia is one of the unsafe places in the world for lesbians and gay people.
Russia has drafted a report seeking to return the world into ‘traditional values’ and possibly make nonsense of all international instruments and protocols on human rights. The draft report also suggests giving states the sole authority of deciding permissible levels of human rights.
The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee discussed the draft report on 20-24 February 2012 in Geneva during its Eighth session. The draft report will be further discussed in August during the Ninth session.
Amongst other things, the report suggests that "all international human rights agreements ... must be based on, and not contradict, the traditional values of humankind. If this is not the case, they cannot be considered valid”, that the international community should defer to the sovereignty of States, that human rights recognition arises from "responsible behavior" by the individual, and in promoting "the family" as a transmitter of moral values fails to acknowledge either the diversity of family forms or the fact that families can also be potential sites of abuse.
This means the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other instruments may be rendered useless reference tools especially if countries driven by homophobia look at proposal as a way to address homosexuality.
A statement by ARC international calling on countries not to support the report says: While the report acknowledges that “traditions” can be harmful, the report erroneously assumes that “values”, and hence “traditional values”, are inherently positive.
The suggestion of the report is also that for example in traditions where women are deemed as valueless property, such cannot be questioned as long as it fits within the traditions. In places where for example a society deems it fit to rape lesbians to ‘correct’ their sexuality, this can also are permissible. It also means for example, the Ugandan Anti- Homosexuality Bill is OK since the draft report calls for ‘recognition of sovereign states to make their own decisions’.
Critics say the report overlooks the existence of negative values such as racism, sexism and xenophobia, as well as the reality that harmful traditional practices are frequently legitimised by the harmful traditional values on which they are founded.
“Every social grouping in the world has specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others are harmful to a specific group, such as women. Despite their harmful nature and their violation of international human rights laws, such practices persist because they are not questioned and take on an aura of morality in the eyes of those practising them,” continues the report. Critics of the report also says the drafters assume all states are responsible and can guarantee the rights of their citizens.
“This approach suggests that the adoption and fulfilment of human rights obligations is wholly dependent upon the good will of the State, and overlooks the role of the international human rights framework in ensuring that the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings is respected, and the responsibility of the international community not to overlook systemic and egregious human rights abuses,” they say.
Civil Societies worldwide have signed a petition to protest the Russian draft report.
The petition can be found at *
Arc international has also given a list of concerns and reason all human rights organizations campaign against the proposal by Russia.
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