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International Committee on Racial Discrimination Calls on US to Protect Abortion Rights

NEW YORK — The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today called on the United States to take all necessary measures — at the federal and state level — to provide safe, legal, and effective access to abortion in line with its international human rights obligations.

The recommendation came as part of the committee’s “concluding observations” following its review of US compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which the US ratified in 1994. For more on US obligations on reproductive rights under ICERD, see this factsheet.

The concluding observations specifically noted the recent Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, citing its “profound disparate impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of racial and ethnic minorities.”

The committee questioned the US government in Geneva on August 11 and 12. During this session, it raised US abortion restrictions numerous times. The members were particularly concerned about disproportionate access to safe abortion for Black, brown, and indigenous women, as well as the prosecution of those seeking abortions post-Dobbs.

Dr. Christine Ryan, legal director at the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Make no mistake, the international community put the United States on notice today for the racist impacts of its recent regression on abortion rights. Even before the conservative majority on the Supreme Court overruled the constitutional right to abortion, they had dismantled abortion access for decades. Black, brown & indigenous women seeking abortion faced profound and disproportionate obstacles. After Dobbs, they’re facing nothing short of a gross and systemic human rights crisis.

“Today’s recommendation on abortion is well within the committee’s mandate. ICERD prohibits racial discrimination in access to healthcare and requires the elimination of laws that perpetuate racial discrimination. Abortion restrictions in the US violate these measures at every turn. Forced travel for abortion is more difficult for women of color. Coerced pregnancy is more dangerous. And criminalization will target them at higher rates.

“This is also a critical moment of international accountability for the United States. For too long, the US government has failed to fully implement the very human rights framework it helped create. The international community should take every opportunity to interrogate the state of human rights in the US and commit to reversing this damaging trend.”

USAID and State Department Urged to Take Steps to Implement Exceptions for Funding of Abortion Services Abroad

More than 100 international and domestic organizations today sent a letter to the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) urging them to end overly restrictive interpretations of law that block the use of foreign assistance funds for abortion services in any circumstance.

The Helms Amendment prohibits foreign assistance funding for abortion services as a “method of family planning.” This means abortion services can be funded in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. However, USAID and the State Department have never funded abortion services in these contexts.

Elena Sarver, legal advisor at the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“We’ve said it for years: the president can end a devastating human rights violation with the stroke of a pen. For too long, US presidents have failed to take action to implement exceptions that permit funding of abortion care abroad in certain cases. The Biden administration can take immediate action to change that now.

“As the world’s largest provider of humanitarian aid worldwide, the US is in a unique position to deliver healthcare to those who need it most. But as a result of its incorrect interpretation of the Helms Amendment, it is routinely denying critical abortion care to victims of rape, incest, and in cases of life endangerment. In order to live up to its stated commitment to reproductive rights, the Biden administration should clarify these exceptions and implement funding for abortion in these cases.”

International Court of Justice Rejects Procedural Objections From Myanmar in Genocide Case

NEW YORK — The International Court of Justice today issued a ruling that rejected “preliminary objections” raised by Myanmar in its genocide case. The case brought by The Gambia to hold Myanmar accountable for its 2017 genocide of the Rohingya will now move on to the merits phase.

Preliminary objections are typically filed to raise procedural issues. Among other things, Myanmar objected to the court’s jurisdiction as well as The Gambia’s standing to bring the case. For more on preliminary measures, see this recent Q&A on the case.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Since its genocide of the Rohingya nearly five years ago, Myanmar’s military junta has done whatever it can to avoid or delay international accountability for its crimes. The court’s ruling today rejects Myanmar’s latest delay tactic, advancing this critical vehicle for justice.

“This court has rejected the military junta at every turn. In its hearings and order on provisional measures, the court already considered and rejected many of these procedural objections from Myanmar. In issuing provisional measures, the court also found that serious risks of genocide still existed for the Rohingya and ordered Myanmar to take steps to prevent genocide. The fact is, Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention and it can’t avoid accountability any longer.

“Since it seized power in a coup last February, the military junta’s violence and criminality has only deepened. Though we’ve seen strong condemnation and some bare accountability measures from the international community, the people of Myanmar continue to suffer under this brutal regime. And though this case is just one of many roads toward justice, its resolution would be a major step towards justice and a sustainable, democratic Myanmar.”

US Supreme Court Repeals Constitutional Right to Abortion

NEW YORK — The United States Supreme Court today repealed the constitutional right to abortion. The ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization allows Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban to remain in place and explicitly overturns decades of precedent set by the Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions that prevented states from banning abortions before viability.

Abortion is likely to become illegal immediately in roughly half of US states. Other states are expected to further limit abortion access, while some have taken steps to expand access in anticipation of the court’s ruling.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Today will go down as one of the darkest days for human rights in American history. With the stroke of a pen, this court has barred millions from access to a medical service that the World Health Organization has deemed a ‘crucial part of healthcare.’ The repercussions for bodily autonomy and gender equality in the US will be devastating.

“Though decades of attacks have deeply eroded the protections of Roe, and safe abortion has for too long been inaccessible to many, today’s ruling puts the United States firmly in violation of its human rights obligations. Around the world, recognition of the right to abortion access is sweeping. Ireland, Colombia, Benin, and countless other countries have taken steps in recent years to expand abortion access. Make no mistake: the US is now a global pariah on abortion, and accordingly, gender equality.

“This is certainly the catastrophic day we all feared. But it is also a day we’ve long prepared for. While we fight state-by-state to secure abortions for anyone who needs them, there are actions President Biden and Congress can take now to protect the human right to abortion. With stakes this high, each day of inaction is an attack on every person now living in a country without bodily autonomy.”

US Supreme Court Reportedly Set to Repeal Constitutional Right to Abortion

NEW YORK — A majority opinion from the US Supreme Court that was leaked to the press shows a vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the core legal precedent establishing the right to abortion in the United States.

The court has not yet issued its official ruling and abortion remains legal in the United States.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“If this leaked opinion is legitimate, it offers a preview of the catastrophic day reproductive rights activists have feared for decades. In just a few short weeks, this court is set to seize a human right from millions in America. This places the United States in violation of its human rights obligations and far out of step with global trends towards liberalizing abortion access.

“Let’s be clear: safe abortion is a fundamental human right and must be accessible to all pregnant people. Everyone from international human rights bodies to healthcare experts agree. And yet, abortion has been singled out, stigmatized, and targeted, including as a test run for broader assaults on human rights.

“The court’s ruling is still weeks away, but the time to act is now. President Biden and Congress must take all steps within their power to protect abortion access and expeditiously act to firmly enshrine this human right into law.”

United States to Designate Crimes Against Rohingya as Genocide

NEW YORK — Reports surfaced today that the United States will formally determine that atrocities committed against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar’s military in northern Rakhine State amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. The Biden administration will officially announce the designation tomorrow.

Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“This is a welcome, yet long overdue step from the Biden administration. Recognizing the crimes against Rohingya for what they are — a genocide — is necessary if the world hopes to marshal a swift and appropriate response. So it’s absolutely crucial that this designation is followed by a renewed campaign of action from the United States to hold the military accountable. The same military who committed genocide against the Rohingya are those who are illegally in power as a result of a military coup — the cycle of impunity must be broken.

“Powerful measures the US could take include pushing the UN Security Council to refer the crisis to the International Criminal Court, taking the lead in demanding a global arms embargo, and securing humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in the country.

“Any such renewed effort from the US should also explicitly recognize the gendered nature of this genocide. The military’s systemic use of sexual and other gendered violence is critical to understanding both the Rohingya genocide and its ongoing post-coup crimes.”

WHO issues new guidelines on abortion to help countries deliver lifesaving care

The World Health Organization (WHO) is releasing new guidelines on abortion care today, in a bid to protect the health of women and girls and help prevent over 25 million unsafe abortions that currently occur each year.

“Being able to obtain safe abortion is a crucial part of health care,” said Craig Lissner, acting Director for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO. “Nearly every death and injury that results from unsafe abortion is entirely preventable. That’s why we recommend women and girls can access abortion and family planning services when they need them.”

Based on the latest scientific evidence, these consolidated guidelines bring together over 50 recommendations spanning clinical practice, health service delivery, and legal and policy interventions to support quality abortion care.

New recommendations to improve access to high quality, person-centred services

When abortion is carried out using a method recommended by WHO, appropriate to the duration of the pregnancy and assisted by someone with the necessary information or skills, it is a simple and extremely safe procedure.

Tragically, however, only around half of all abortions take place under such conditions, with unsafe abortions causing around 39 000 deaths every year and resulting in millions more women hospitalized with complications. Most of these deaths are concentrated in lower-income countries – with over 60% in Africa and 30% in Asia – and among those living in the most vulnerable situations. 

The guideline includes recommendations on many simple primary care level interventions that improve the quality of abortion care provided to women and girls. These include task sharing by a wider range of health workers; ensuring access to medical abortion pills, which mean more women can obtain safe abortion services, and making sure that accurate information on care is available to all those who need it. 

For the first time, the guidelines also include recommendations for use where appropriate of telemedicine, which helped support access to abortion and family planning services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Removing unnecessary policy barriers facilitates safe abortion access

Alongside the clinical and service delivery recommendations, the guidelines recommend removing medically unnecessary policy barriers to safe abortion, such as criminalization, mandatory waiting times, the requirement that approval must be given by other people (e.g., partners or family members) or institutions, and limits on when during pregnancy an abortion can take place. Such barriers can lead to critical delays in accessing treatment and put women and girls at greater risk of unsafe abortion, stigmatization, and health complications, while increasing disruptions to education and their ability to work.

While most countries permit abortion under specified circumstances, about 20 countries provide no legal grounds for abortion. More than 3 in 4 countries have legal penalties for abortion, which can include lengthy prison sentences or heavy fines for people having or assisting with the procedure. 

“It’s vital that an abortion is safe in medical terms,” said Dr Bela Ganatra, Head of WHO’s Prevention of Unsafe Abortion Unit. “But that’s not enough on its own. As with any other health services, abortion care needs to respect the decisions and needs of women and girls, ensuring that they are treated with dignity and without stigma or judgement. No one should be exposed to abuse or harms like being reported to the police or put in jail because they have sought or provided abortion care." 

Evidence shows that restricting access to abortions does not reduce the number of abortions that take place. In fact, restrictions are more likely to drive women and girls towards unsafe procedures. In countries where abortion is most restricted, only 1 in 4 abortions are safe, compared to nearly 9 in 10 in countries where the procedure is broadly legal. 

“The evidence is clear – if you want to prevent unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, you need to provide women and girls with a comprehensive package of sexuality education, accurate family planning information and services, and access to quality abortion care,” Dr Ganatra added.

Following the launch of the guidelines, WHO will support interested countries to implement these new guidelines and strengthen national policies and programmes related to contraception, family planning and abortion services, helping them provide the highest standard of care for women and girls.

Q&A: Rohingya Genocide Case Steps Toward Justice

International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings beginning February 21, 2022 underline the critical importance of bringing justice for the Myanmar military’s abuses against ethnic Rohingya, Human Rights Watch and the Global Justice Center said today. The groups released a question-and-answer document outlining recent developments in the case, including the impact of the February 1, 2021 military coup in Myanmar, on the ICJ proceedings.

The hearings at the court from February 21 to 28 are for the case brought by Gambia against Myanmar alleging that the military’s atrocities in Rakhine State against Rohingya Muslims violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention).

“The International Court of Justice hearings are the next step in the landmark case to break the cycle of violence and impunity in Myanmar,” said Nushin Sarkarati, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The case could build a pathway to justice, not only for the Rohingya, but for everyone in the country.”

In November 2019, Gambia filed a case before the ICJ alleging that Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine State violate various provisions of the Genocide Convention. The case before the ICJ is not a criminal case against individual alleged perpetrators, but a legal determination of state responsibility for genocide.

The ICJ held hearings in December 2019, on Gambia’s request, for provisional measures to protect the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar from genocide, which the court unanimously adopted in January 2020. The new hearings will cover Myanmar’s preliminary objections to the case, which challenge the court’s jurisdiction and Gambia’s legal standing to file the case.

The court’s provisional measures require Myanmar to prevent all genocidal acts against the Rohingya, to ensure that security forces do not commit acts of genocide, and to take steps to preserve evidence related to the case. Myanmar is legally bound to comply with this order. However, Human Rights Watch and others have documented ongoing grave abuses against the 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar, contravening the provisional measures ordered by the court.

Since the February 2021 coup, junta security forces have carried out mass killings, torture, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses that Human Rights Watch believes amount to crimes against humanity. Security forces have killed over 1,500 people since the coup, including at least 100 children, and arbitrarily detained over 11,000 activists, politicians, journalists, and others. Rohingya have also faced even greater movement restrictions and harsher punishments for attempting to leave Rakhine State, which amount to the crimes against humanity of persecution, apartheid, and severe deprivation of liberty.

In 2019, Myanmar’s government appointed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to lead its delegation to the ICJ. During the 2021 coup, the military arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and a junta-controlled court sentenced her to six years in prison. She still faces over 150 years in prison combined on various additional fabricated charges. On June 24, 2021, the junta announced that it appointed a panel of eight senior junta officials to represent Myanmar’s delegation before the court.

During the February hearings, representatives of Myanmar and Gambia will present arguments as to whether the ICJ has jurisdiction to examine the genocide claims against Myanmar. The hearings will take place in a hybrid format, including both in-person and virtual participants. Live streaming of the hearings will be available in English and French on the court’s website and on UN Web TV.

While the ICJ case focuses exclusively on alleged crimes against the Rohingya, the military has committed brutal abuses across Myanmar. In the wake of the coup, ethnic groups have sought greater solidarity in the pursuit of justice, as the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya have been echoed in attacks on civilians around the country. The ICJ case could set the stage to scrutinize the Myanmar military’s longstanding international crimes more widely, Human Rights Watch and the Global Justice Center said.

“As the Myanmar military continues to commit atrocities against anti-coup protesters and ethnic minorities, it should be put on notice there will be consequences for these actions – past, present, and future,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “The ICJ’s proceedings are laying the groundwork for accountability in Myanmar – not only for the Rohingya, but for all others who have suffered at the hands of the military.”

For a question-and-answer document on recent developments on Gambia’s Case Against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, please visit: https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/02/14/developments-gambias-case-against-myanmar-international-court-justice

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on international justice, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/topic/international-justice    
 
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Myanmar, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/myanmar-burma  

For more on the Global Justice Center’s work on Myanmar, please visit:
https://globaljusticecenter.net/our-work/demanding-justice-for-sexual-and-gender-based-violence/mass-atrocity-crimes

New Hearings Announced in Genocide Case Against Myanmar at World Court

NEW YORK — Reports surfaced today that the International Court of Justice will hold hearings on February 21 in The Gambia’s case against Myanmar for the 2017 genocide of the Rohingya. The hearings — the first since last year’s military coup — will consider Myanmar’s “preliminary objections” to the case.

Preliminary objections are typically filed to raise procedural issues before the court considers the merits of the case. Objections filed by Myanmar likely include challenges to The Gambia’s standing to file the case and to the existence of a dispute with The Gambia. More information on preliminary objections and the military coup’s effect on the case can be found here.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“It is important that a critical vehicle to secure accountability for the Rohingya genocide is moving forward, especially after the perpeptrators of this grave crime took power in a coup. The present crisis in Myanmar was born of impunity and it will take accountability at this court and elsewhere to move Myanmar back on the path to democracy.

“Myanmar’s preliminary objections are little more than delay tactics. In its hearings and order on provisional measures, the court already considered and rejected many of these arguments. The fact is Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention and Myanmar will do everything it can to avoid facing justice. And with the news that the military junta will defend in this case, the perpetrators of the Rohingya genocide will now be the one’s physically present in court to answer for their atrocities.

“The military has not only yet to be held accountable for its grievous crimes, but illegally seized power over their country. In its repression of the pro-democracy movement, the military is continuing the human rights abuses that a generation of impunity has afforded. It’s past time for these atrocities to be met with consequences and this case is a vital tool to secure such justice.”

Civil society welcomes the UN General Assembly’s decision to reject the Myanmar military junta, urges the UN to cease all forms of cooperation that lend them legitimacy

Today, the UN General Assembly adopted the recommendations made by the Credentials Committee of the UN to defer the decision on who will represent Myanmar at the UN. The decision constitutes a clear rejection of the illegal Myanmar military junta’s application for credentials to the UN, leaving U Kyaw Moe Tun, the current Permanent Representative of Myanmar, to continue to represent the country at the world body.

The recommendation for deferral by the Credentials Committee comprised of nine UN Member States including the United States, China and Russia, is a huge blow to the murderous junta that have killed at least 1,303 people since the coup, including around 100 children, and arbitrarily arrested 10,681 people.  

Khin Ohmar, founder and Chairperson of Progressive Voice: “We welcome this decision by the UN General Assembly to reject the terrorist military junta and call on all UN agencies, funds and programs to cease all forms of cooperation that lend the junta any legitimacy. UN agencies must end its complicity in emboldening the junta by inviting them to meetings, conferences and other platforms that offers them the opportunity to create a façade of legitimacy.

International bodies, including the Human Rights Council, the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization, must now accept nominations made by U Kyaw Moe Tun and recognize the authority of Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the UN.”

Charles Santiago, chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), and a Malaysian Member of Parliament:“The UN General Assembly’s decision sends a strong message to ASEAN and other regional and international institutions that the junta must not be recognized as the legitimate representatives of Myanmar. Any engagement by ASEAN or any of its members with the military junta undermines its credibility and is an affront to the courageous and continuing calls made by the people of Myanmar to reject the junta.

As we saw in a graphic video shared on social media over the weekend of the military deliberately running down peaceful demonstrators, despite the risks, the Myanmar people are literally putting their lives on the line every day to reject the junta, and calling for their voices to be heard.”

Grant Shubin, Legal Director of Global Justice Center:“Today’s result is a vote of confidence for the rule of law in Myanmar—but much more remains to be done. The junta has committed crimes against humanity with its widespread and systematic attacks on the people of Myanmar. In addition to denying the junta the legitimacy it craves, the international community must also take positive steps to end the Tatmadaw’s impunity and ensure justice and accountability for Myanmar.”

On 10 September, 358 Myanmar and international civil society organizations called on the UN Member States to ensure that the current Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the UN, Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun, retains his position as Myanmar’s representative to the UN. See the open letter to members of the UN General Assembly here: https://progressivevoicemyanmar.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/UNGA_Credentials_FINAL_ENG.pdf

Joint Statement on Supreme Court Arguments in Texas Abortion Case

The following is a joint statement about the Texas abortion law by the Global Justice Center, Amnesty International USA, and Human Rights Watch;

The United States Supreme Court is holding oral arguments on November 1, 2021 on procedural questions related to challenges brought against an extreme anti-abortion law in the state of Texas. Key protections for the human rights of pregnant people in the United States are at stake.

In a recent brief to the court ahead of upcoming arguments on the state of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, the Global Justice Center, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch made clear that abortion bans, such as the 6-week restriction in Texas, are inconsistent with international human rights protections.

Upholding the Texas ban – as well as Mississippi’s 15-week ban, set to be heard by the court in December – would place the US at odds with a worldwide trend toward expansion of abortion access.

From Mexico to Ireland, countries around the world have taken major steps to broaden access to abortion in recent years. A significant majority of women of reproductive age – almost 60 percent – now live in countries where abortion is generally available.

In addition, these state abortion bans place the US in direct violation of its human rights obligations. The rights implicated in these cases – to life, nondiscrimination, freedom from torture, and privacy – come from binding treaties the US has ratified. Even the anti-abortion group C-Fam acknowledged in its brief to the court that all nine independent expert bodies monitoring state compliance with major international human rights treaties have recommended that abortion should be made more available in the US.

This case is just the latest effort in the US anti-abortion movement’s campaign to make abortion inaccessible across the country. Whether in Texas, Mississippi, or Florida, these attempts violate the human rights of pregnant people in the US. If the US is to respect human rights, it needs to expand, not restrict, access to abortion.

Fall 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to the Global Justice Center's first quarterly newsletter! In this moment of turmoil and change, we took the opportunity to reflect on how we're engaging with our community of allies and supporters. With this quarterly newsletter, we'll be delivering a streamlined update on our most exciting and important work.

The GJC team looks forward to this new opportunity to share our work with you. And as always, thank you for standing with us and making our bold, feminist advocacy possible.

Read the Full Newsletter

Statement on Tina Tchen Following Reports of Involvement with Effort to Discredit Survivor of Sexual Harassment by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo

In May of 2019, the Global Justice Center awarded Tina Tchen with a “Feminist Changemaker” award for her work on women’s rights under the Obama administration. We are deeply saddened and disappointed at recent reports of Tchen’s involvement in efforts to discredit a survivor of sexual harassment by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. We stand in solidarity with the survivors and victims who have called out not only the harms caused by Cuomo, but also the systems that keep abusers in power. We urge those in power to ensure that all survivors and victims of sexual harassment are heard without persecution.

Press Conference: Women Leaders of Burma/Myanmar Disappointed with International Community

At a virtual press conference held today, women of Burma/Myanmar demanded greater accountability from ASEAN and the international community in their response to the recent military coup in the country. Since the coup, the armed and security forces have waged systemic gender-based violence and sexual violence against women, especially within the ethnic community. 

Naw Hser Hser, General Secretary of Women’s League of Burma (WLB) said, “Women Human Rights Defenders are being actively targeted by the military regime. There are chilling reports of female detainees being subjected to harrowing sexual assault, torture, physical and verbal abuse, and intimidation. The military’s use of rape as a weapon of war and sexual violence is a tool to demoralize and destroy ethnic communities. Their widespread and systematic nature indicates a structural pattern. “

Several documented cases recently have shown large-scale violence against women including forcing them to exchange sex for removing their names from the warrant list, sexual assault in custody, and other forms of sexual and verbal abuse. There are also growing attacks on women human rights defenders for leading the resistance against Myanmar's military. At least 895 women have been detained so far and 56 confirmed cases of women and girls being killed, though the numbers could be higher.

“One-third of the Karenni population in Karenni State has been forced to flee their villages due to fighting between Burmese army and people resistance groups. Displaced women and children are at increased risk of being victims of human rights violations. We demand the international community to take immediate actions against the military, and provide access to humanitarian aid for the IDPs, in partnership with local ethnic service providers”, said a representative from Karenni National Women’s Organisation.

Moon Nay Li,  Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT)shared, “The military coup is having the deepest impact on those who are already marginalized due to the decades of civil war and ongoing human rights violations committed  Burmese military. Humanitarian aid must be closely monitored to ensure that it benefits the conflict-affected ethnic communities and not the military. At the same time, they need to make sure that all women and girls get access to health, legal, and social services.”

On 18 June 2021, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on Burma/Myanmar with no participation from women leaders or activists on the ground or women’s rights organizations from the country. The resolution also saw a split vote from ASEAN nations with at least four countries abstaining from voting.

“The failure of regional processes like ASEAN in holding the military regime accountable in Burma has been extremely disappointing. Women have historically led the resistance on the ground and hold the key to restoring peace and justice in the country. Absence of their voices and leadership in UN processes will only lead to the repetition of injustice and failure of the international community in fulfilling the purposes of the UN Charter ”, said Misun Woo, Regional Coordinator of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD).

“It is long overdue for the international community to move statements of concern and take real action. Burma’s military is notorious for grave human rights violations, most notably using sexual and gender-based violence as a tool of oppression, and its operations since the coup are no exception. The current crisis was born out of the military’s complete impunity for international crimes, and accountability for ongoing and past abuses must be part of the solution”, said Grant Shubin, Global Justice Center.

For more than seven decades, the military has waged war in several ethnic states of Burma/Myanmar. It is time to hold the military regime accountable by the international community and refer it to the International Criminal Court for these mass atrocities. Ensuring women’s voices, leadership and meaningful participation in all UN processes is the only way the international community can fulfil its obligation to the people of Burma/Myanmar.

UN General Assembly Passes Resolution on Myanmar Coup

NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly today passed a resolution addressing the military coup in Myanmar. It is the first resolution from the general assembly since the coup on February 1.

This resolution comes on the same day of a closed-door briefing on Myanmar at the UN Security Council. The Council has issued several statements on the coup, but has yet to pass any resolution.

Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“A resolution from the General Assembly is a necessary and positive step for the international community. But just like with Security Council actions that precede it, today’s resolution does not go far enough to meet the demands of Myanmar’s people.

“The bright sides of the General Assembly’s resolution, including the call on all nations to prevent arms flows into Myanmar, are in stark contrast to the Security Council’s failure to take decisive action.

“As the body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council can no longer stand idly by while Myanmar’s military uses its decades-old playbook to commit widespread and systematic human rights violations. The time for closed meetings and toothless statements of concern is over.”

“The Security Council must finally do what women’s rights activists in Myanmar have been calling for for years — take concrete and decisive action to condemn the military and hold them accountable for international crimes committed against all of Myanmar’s people.”

June News Update: 2020 Annual Report

Dear Friend,

From a global pandemic to vicious attacks on democracy and human rights, 2020 presented some of the most formidable challenges the Global Justice Center has ever faced. How we rebuild and repair in the years ahead will define generations to come.

Reflecting on this momentous year, we are thrilled to share our 2020 Annual Report with you. The full report will release next week, but please enjoy this preview video featuring our own Grant Shubin. In it, Grant discusses our work last year to defend the Women, Peace, and Security agenda from patriarchal attacks.

Thank you for standing with us for another year of advocacy for radical, feminist change. We look forward to continuing the fight with you in 2021 and beyond.

Read the Full Newsletter

President Biden Releases Budget That Removes Hyde Amendment, Leaves Other Abortion Restrictions in Place

NEW YORK — In his first presidential budget released today, President Biden removed the Hyde Amendment, but left in place several other restrictions on abortion funding, including the Helms Amendment.

The Helms Amendment has prohibited any U.S. foreign aid from going to abortion services since 1973. Among other anti-abortion policies included in the budget, the president also left in place the Siljander Amendment, which prevents the use of US funds to lobby for or against abortion.

Elena Sarver, legal advisor with the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“The president is right to remove the Hyde Amendment from his budget, but the Helms Amendment and Hyde are two sides of the same coin. Both restrict access to abortion care in violation of international law. Both have been recognized by the international community as violations of human rights. There is simply no reason to protect the rights of pregnant people here in the US, but deny them to pregnant people around the world.

“At the United Nations and other international venues, the Biden administration continues to say it is a champion of sexual and reproductive rights. But the inclusion of illegal and destructive abortion funding restrictions like Helms shows this is mere rhetoric rather than a true commitment. Combine this failure with their refusal to utter the word ‘abortion,’ this administration has a lot of work to do before it can truly claim to be a champion of reproductive rights.”