The draft resolution approved in the Third Committee of the General Assembly mentions gender identity as a characteristic warranting protection from unlawful executions for the first time.
BY Julie Bolcer
November 23 2012
A United Nations committee overseeing human rights issues approved a draft resolution Tuesday that for the first time acknowledges the need to protect individuals from extrajudicial executions on the basis of their gender identity.
The Third Committee of the General Assembly passed the resolution by a vote of 108 to 1, with 65 abstentions and 18 absences. Iran was the only country to oppose the resolution, which was approved after “rigorous debate” over the language, according to a United Nations news release.
Sweden introduced the resolution co-sponsored by 34 states. The text reiterates states’ obligation to conduct prompt, comprehensive, and fair investigations into all suspected extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions, and urges states to investigate all killings, including those of people targeted for their sexual orientation, gender identity and other reasons.
The resolution on extrajudicial executions comes up for a vote in the committee every two years. Language to protect individuals on the basis of “sexual orientation” has been included for the past 12 years, but this year marked the first time the resolution has mentioned “gender identity.”
Two years ago, the reference to “sexual orientation” was removed from the draft resolution following an effort led by a group of African states. The language was later restored in a vote in the General Assembly after a last-minute push coordinated by the United States.
Blocks of countries challenged the concept of rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity again this year. The United Arab Emirates sponsored an amendment on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation that would have removed the language about sexual orientation and gender identity, but it was defeated by a vote of 86 to 44, with 31 abstentions and 32 absences. In a separate track, the Holy See led an effort that would have stripped references to all vulnerable groups, but the proposal was never formally introduced.