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15th session of the Human Rights Council

Last updated: 03.03.2011 // The United Nations Human Rights Council held its 15th session between September 13th and October 1st, 2010. Norway participated actively during the session.

One of the main achievements was the decision to appoint a working group to address discrimination
against women. The working group will consist of five independent experts, each of them representing a
different geographical region. The mandate of the working group includes developing a dialogue with
States, the relevant United Nations entities, national human rights institutions, experts on different legal
systems, and civil society organizations to identify, promote and exchange views on best practices
related to the elimination of laws that discriminate against women.

The working group represents a new and important tool for the UN in the endeavour to promote equal
rights and speed up efforts to abolish laws that discriminate against women. It will cooperate with the
newly established UN Women, thereby contributing to a holistic approach to gender equality in the UN

There was also a breakthrough in the work for freedom of association and assembly, with the creation of
a special rapporteur to focus on these basic freedoms. Also, and very importantly, the Council was able
to renew the country mandate on Sudan. The mandate was renewed with 25 voting in favour and 18
against, while three countries abstained. The country mandates for Cambodia, Haiti and Somalia were
renewed with consensus.

Similarly, progress was made in a number of other thematic issues, among others indigenous rights, the
fight against maternal mortality and the right to water. Reports from various examinations under the
Universal Periodic Review were also adopted during the session.

Norway supported a well‐attended side event on freedom of speech and defamation of religions
arranged by International PEN in cooperation with several other NGOs. The panellists were Tariq
Ramadan, Agnes Callamard and Budhy Rahman. The President of International PEN, John Ralston Saul,
chaired the event.

Norway also co‐organised a side event on human rights for lesbian, gays, bi‐sexual and transgendered
persons. Both Secretary General Ban Ki‐moon and Archbishop Desmond Tutu participated via video link,
adding their support to the event and highligting the importance of decriminalising homosexuality and eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Norway’s statements during the 15th session can be found below.

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