U.N. Human Rights Council Adopts ‘Landmark’ Maternal Mortality Resolution

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a “landmark resolution” acknowledging that “preventable maternal mortality and morbidity” is a human rights issue and that national and international efforts to protect women worldwide should be scaled up, the Hudson Valley Press Online reports. More than 70 U.N. member states cosponsored the resolution, led by Colombia and New Zealand (Hudson Valley Press Online, 6/18). Pakistan was one of the member states that signed on to the resolution, the International News reports (International News, 6/19).

As part of the resolution, the council requested that the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) prepare a “thematic study on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights,” in consultation with states, the WHO, UNPF, UNICEF the World Bank and other relevant stakeholders, according to a U.N. Office at Geneva press release (U.N. Office at Geneva release, 6/17).

By signing on to the resolution, “governments recognize that the elimination of maternal mortality and morbidity requires the effective promotion and protection of women and girls’ human rights, including their rights to life; to be equal in dignity; to education; to be free to seek, receive, and impart information; to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress; to freedom from discrimination; and to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including sexual and reproductive health,” according to the Hudson Valley Press Online.

Ximena Andion, the international advocacy director at the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, said the resolution is a “groundbreaking step towards ensuring every woman’s basic human right to a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth.” The article includes additional reaction from advocacy groups that promoted the resolution (Hudson Valley Press Online, 6/18).

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA general secretary, said in a release that her organization welcomes the request for the study and recommends that the study include a “specific focus on young women and adolescents, as well as the rights of women living with HIV” (World YWCA release, 6/18).

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