Underrepresentation of African Women in UN Human Rights Bodies.*

By: J. Jarpa Dawuni, Ph.D.


On October 20, 2020, the Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) convened a regional high-level consultative meeting of experts, in conjunction with the Gender Equality Campaign (GQUAL), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), and the American University Washington College of Law Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. The goal of the consultative meeting was to identify some of the major obstacles to gender parity on UN Human Rights Bodies and provide recommendations for addressing the identified challenges.

The findings from the consultative meeting contributed to the work of Professor Elizabeth Salmon Garate, Executive Director of the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, who was charged by the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee to produce a final report on the underrepresentation of women in UN Human Rights Bodies.

The convening brought together experts across Africa, including past and current women judges on international courts, former diplomats, academics, and human rights activists, to discuss the state of gender diversity in UN Human Rights bodies from African perspectives. The dialogue generated rich data from the discussion of existing international treaties, norms, and practices, and how they affect the outcome of the nomination, and election of women to international bodies and treaties.

While the African context