The United Nations mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) has been safeguarded despite hostile contestation at the 71st Session of the 3rd Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, on November 21.
The UN General Assembly voted to retain the appointed LGBTI human rights monitor, Vitit Muntarbhorn, after a coalition of African countries moved to have his position suspended. Muntarbhorn from Thailand was appointed to the position in September after UN Human Rights created the role in June to have independent investigator look into abuses against LGBTI.
However, African countries questioned the legality of the mandate, arguing that sexual and gender identity should not be added to existing international human rights instruments. In early November, Botwana, on behalf of the African Group, presented a hostile resolution on the Human Rights Council Annual Report, specifically targeting the SOGI Independent Expert Mandate. The resolution contested the legality of the creation of the mandate, essentially arguing that SOGI are not universally recognized as human rights and are not codified in international law. The resolution called for an indefinite postponement of the mandate until consensus could be reached on the definition of SOGI and the legal basis to which the mandate was created, the African Group statement read:
"We are alarmed that the Council is delving into matters which fall essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of States counter to the commitment in the United Nations Charter to respect the sovereignty of States and the principle of non-intervention. More importantly, it arises owing to the ominous usage of the two notions: sexual orientation and gender identity. We wish to state that those two notions are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments."
While all 193 countries in the UN General Assembly had the right to vote, only 178 exercised their vote, resulting in the passing of the LAC 8 amendment, leading to the failure of the hostile resolution and dissipation of the immediate threat against the establishment of the SOGI Independent Expert. In total, 84 countries voted in favor of the LAC 8 amendment, 17 countries abstained from voting, 77, including Nigeria voted against the amendment, a move the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, described as 'a pity'
Read the full report below: here