International Update | Vol. 16 | Issue 3

By Jana L. Walker and Christopher Foley, Attorneys, Indian Law Resource Center

Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body that works to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and to investigate human rights violations. During its 41st session in Geneva, Switzerland on June 24 – July 12, 2019, the Council held a day-long discussion on women’s rights, including panels on violence against women in the world of work, the rights of older women, and women’s rights and climate change.

The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences presented her report, to the Council, which makes recommendations to eliminate violence against women including a call for a system- wide approach that would further collaboration among UN agencies and regional independent monitoring mechanisms on women’s human rights. Among other things, the Special Rapporteur noted that one day of general discussion on women’s human rights during the Human Rights Council is not sufficient, also suggesting that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women be invited to present reports to the Council.

The Council’s 42nd session was held on September 9-27, 2019 and included an annual panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples as well as an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Documents and other information from these sessions are available at https://

Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council and functions as the implementing and monitoring body for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As such, the Expert Mechanism offers indigenous peoples a dedicated access point to the workings of the UN Human Rights System. The Expert Mechanism meets each summer in Geneva, Switzerland, with this year’s session taking place in July. The agenda for the session included a panel discussion on indigenous women in power, as well as study and advice on indigenous peoples’ rights in the context of borders, migration, and displacement. For more information about the session, visit



Looking Ahead

Commission on the Status of Women, March 9-20, 2020

The 64th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women will take place at UN Headquarters in New York from March 9-20, 2020, with member states, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited NGOs invited to attend. Established in 1946, it is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the primary global intergovernmental body that is dedicated exclusively to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. While session details are not available yet, please note that the period for submitting written statements typically opens in early October for two weeks, and the period for requesting a parallel event typically opens in early November for about a month.


Jana Walker and Christopher Foley are Staff Attorneys with the Indian Law Resource Center located in Helena, Montana.

The Commission expects 2020 to be a pivotal year for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere, marking the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and also a five-year milestone in reaching the sustainable development goals set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the Beijing Declaration, countries explicitly affirmed their determination to: “[i]ntensify efforts to ensure equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all women and girls who face multiple barriers to their empowerment and advancement because of such factors as their race, age, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, or disability, or because they are indigenous people.” The Declaration and Platform for Action also acknowledge that indigenous women often face barriers not only as women, but also as members of indigenous communities.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is considered the key global policy document on gender equality and a progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights. The Commission is responsible for monitoring its implementation. Accordingly, during the 64th session, the Commission will assess progress and challenges affecting the implementation of the Platform of Action, the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment, and the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including the political declaration set out in the 23rd special session of the General Assembly (Beijing+5) that reviewed progress toward achieving the Platform for Action after five years, can be viewed online and downloaded at:….

For further information or assistance with meeting registrations or participation, please contact the Indian Law Resource Center at