Call for Endorsements for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual Rights & Reproductive Rights

Published: February 3, 2011

Sexuality and reproduction constitute significant aspects of human existence that have historically been subordinated by numerous economic, political, religious and cultural variables…which have determined the forms by which legitimacy, normalcy, and legality have been conceived of and administered; as well as excluding and stigmatizing everything that deviated from what was established by the social norms and by the positivized norms…”

— Preamble, draft Inter-American Convention on Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights

What is the proposed Inter-American Convention on Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights?

The proposed Inter-American Convention on Sexual Rights & Reproductive Rights would produce a set of norms and standards for members of the Organization of American States (OAS), the key arena within the Americas for setting and enforcing human rights norms. A party that fails to fulfill their obligations under the convention could be held liable under international law.

The objectives of the proposed Convention are: to respect, protect, guarantee and promote the full, equal, free and dignified exercise of sexual and reproductive rights for all people.

The proposed convention is currently a civil society initiative that exists in draft form.  (See http://www.convencion.org.uy/01campana/Documentos/Convencion_2010/prop2010-lima-ingl.pdf for the draft convention text.)  Over the next year, the Campaign for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights (described below) is soliciting comments on the draft text as well as endorsements of the Convention from civil society, governments, and inter-governmental agencies.  In the next phase, the Campaign will seek the ratification and eventual implementation of the Convention.

Why Do Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights Matter?

It is difficult for many people to make their own choices about reproduction and live out their own sexualities. These dimensions of people’s lives are full of restrictions and injustices grounded in tradition, cultural values, sexism, and homophobia.  Violations of sexual rights and reproductive rights translate into avoidable deaths due to maternal mortality, unsafe abortions, and hate crimes. In response to these injustices, people throughout the Western Hemisphere have begun to raise their voices and affirm that sexual rights and reproductive rights are human rights.

The human rights framework requires that rights be understood to be indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated.  Yet, sexual rights and reproductive rights are often overlooked, ignored or deemed controversial.  The consequence is that the promise of “human rights for all” rings hollow. As proponents of human rights, we must directly examine violations on the basis of sexuality and reproduction and build effective mechanisms at state, regional and international levels to hold violators accountable.

What is the Campaign for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual Rights & Reproductive Rights?

The proposal for an Inter-American Convention on Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights was born from an alliance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Latin America and the Caribbean working for women’s rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. Since 1999, these groups have collaborated on a participatory campaign for the Convention.  Today, the Campaign is composed of more than 150 organizations, including 13 regional networks[1] and 9 national alliances.

The value of the Campaign lies in the fact that it is building the Convention itself from the people up to government. The process is designed to achieve maximum participation by ordinary people who will identify what they consider to be the greatest priority in a sexual rights and reproductive rights agenda. Today, members of the Coalition are organizing at local, national and regional levels – disseminating the proposed text, coordinating with other organizations and movements, creating public forums for debate, forging alliances with advocates like you.

What Does It Mean to Endorse the Proposed Convention?

You and / or your organization agree to the convention draft text and think that its discussion and approval by the OAS member states is essential.

You integrate the wide range of NGOs, individuals, governments and inter-governmental agencies that support the proposed convention text, telling the OAS member states that the initiative has broad support and is a final claim from Civil Society.

All of us can be part of this endeavor.  Please join us.

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