UN Human Rights Council urges action in new 2011 Resolution on Preventable Maternal Mortality and Morbidity
20 SEPTEMBER 2011 | GENEVA - In a resolution (A/HRC/18/L.8) regarding preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, as orally amended adopted without a vote, the United Nations Human Rights Council encourages States and other relevant stakeholders to take action at all levels to address the interlinked root causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, such as poverty, malnutrition, harmful practices, lack of accessible and appropriate health-care services, information and education, and gender inequality, and to pay particular attention to eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.
In the Resolution , the Council requests the Office of High Commissioner to convene in cooperation with other relevant entities of the United Nations system, an expert workshop, open also to the participation of Governments, regional organizations, relevant United Nations bodies, and civil society organizations, to prepare concise technical guidance on the application of a human rights-based approach to the implementation of policies and programmes to reduce preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, including the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health. The Council also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present the technical guidance to the Human Rights Council and decides to continue considering the issue at its twenty-first session under the same agenda item.
Speakers on the Resolution
WENDY HINTON (New Zealand), speaking in introduction of draft resolution L.8, said in 2001 the Human Rights Council had recognized preventing maternal mortality and morbidity as a health development and human rights challenge. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had been requested to prepare an analytical composition of good and effective practices. Despite recent improvements 350,000 women died each year from preventable causes related to child birth. The text this year called for an expert workshop to prepare technical guidance on the application of human rights based approach to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity. There was one amendment in operative paragraph 5, they would delete the last phrase of the paragraph beginning at the word including so that it would now finish at the words “to reduce preventable maternal mortality and morbidity.”
ALICIA VICTORIA ARANGO OLMOS (Colombia), speaking as a co-sponsor, wondered what was missing in international efforts to make significant progress in the prevention of maternal mortality and morbidity. The response to this challenge was to apply a human rights approach in practical terms. In many cases maternal mortality cases occurred because women were not aware of their rights or suffered from marginalization or discrimination. The resolution could constitute a significant tool, in hand with international and local efforts and initiatives, to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity. This was a moral obligation to children and mothers.
SABINE BAKYONO KANZIE (Burkina Faso) speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.8, said Burkina Faso believed that with the adoption of this text, the international community would reach a new milestone in the fight against maternal morbidity and mortality. The consensus in this Council demonstrated it was important to adopt a human rights based approach to this issue.
PATRICE HOUNYEAZE (Benin), speaking in a general comment, indicated that the draft resolution on maternal mortality and morbidity raised major concern upon which the full attention of the international community should be focused. This initiative was part of a greater endeavour to protect the health of people around the world, including women and children. New initiatives would strengthen the protection of the rights of women. This tragic situation was one that would continue to require strengthening efforts address maternal mortality and morbidity.
SUBHAS GYSDHUR (Mauritius), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.8, said Mauritius supported this resolution in order to strengthen the struggle against this scourge of maternal morbidity and mortality using a human rights based approach. Mauritius was proud to support the draft and urged Council to adopt it by consensus.
MOHAMED LAMINE THIAW (Senegal), speaking in a general comment on draft resolution L.8, said that the importance of the issue at the heart of this draft resolution could not be overstated as the right to life was the most fundamental of all human rights. Senegal fully supported the initiative which aimed to hold an open workshop to develop a guidebook to reduce the number of women who died while giving birth.