Advocating for sexual rights at the UN: the unfinished business of global development

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11/01/2016 12:00 am

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Reproductive Health
23, Issue 46
, November 2015, Pages 31–37


Twenty years ago, governments agreed that the right to have control over and decide freely and
responsibly on all matters related to one’s sexuality, free from coercion, discrimination and violence, is a
fundamental human right. Since then, many aspects of sexual rights have been agreed by consensus at the global
level, but the term “sexual rights” itself continues to be removed from negotiated outcomes and left out of
international agreements, often at the last stages of negotiations.

This commentary represents our point of view on the unfinished business of the UN with regards to the
fight for sexual rights. Our perspective draws from lessons learned in cross-movement organizing in various regional
UN spaces and outlines some of the tactics by conservative forces to push sexual rights to the periphery. The
article reaffirms the position that broadening the debate and concepts surrounding sexual rights to be more
inclusive, has enormous transformational potential and should inform collective advocacy efforts moving forward.

Author: Saida Ali, Shannon Kowalski, Paul Silva

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