Today, the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) celebrates the universal principles that "all human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms". IPPF EN would like to stress the importance of using international legal avenues in order to advance sexual and reproductive rights. With Sexual Rights: an IPPF Declaration as invaluable co-pilot, IPPF EN and Member Associations have taken a number of actions through the European Court of Human Rights, the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe and the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
In Ireland, we might soon see very positive developments thanks to this strategy:
“IPPF Member Association, the Irish Family Planning Centre supported three women to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights”, says Maeve Taylor, Policy and Advocacy Officer, IFPA. “In that case, A, B and C v Ireland, in 2010, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held that Ireland was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights because of its failure to give effect to the limited right to abortion where a woman’s life is in danger. We know that the failure of successive governments to act endangers women’s lives! As a result of this groundbreaking ruling, the Government is now, finally, going to take the necessary action to bring its laws one step further into line with human rights standards.”
Furthermore, IPPF EN has recently taken a new legal path using the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe and in particular the collective complaint mechanism provided by the Charter. The European Social Charter complements the European Convention on Human Rights in the field of economic and social rights. It is a key tool for civil society, offering a much easier and faster process for fundamental rights redress.
Marilisa D’Amico, Professor in Constitutional Law of the University of Milan and IPPF EN’s lawyer in the collective complaint against Italy explains: “The IPPF EN collective complaint is really important to give effective guarantee to the rights to life, health and self-determination of women in Italy, where the extremely high and growing number of objecting health professionals compromises the right of women to access abortion. I had the pleasure of assisting IPPF EN in the preparation of its collective Complaint n. 87/2012 which requests the European Committee of Social Rights to declare that Italy, in the case of voluntary termination of pregnancy, violates the European Social Charter, in particular art. 11 which guarantees the right to health and art. E which states the principle of non discrimination.”
Another important legal mechanism that IPPF EN has been using is the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) whereby all 192 UN Member States are allowed to examine the human rights records of their fellow nations once every four years. Following other IPPF Member Associations, SECS of Romania[i] has actively taken part in the human rights record review of the Romania. Among other issues, SECS has highlighted the ways in which women living with HIV/AIDS have been affected by human rights violations in healthcare settings.
As Florin Buhuceanu, President of Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives (ECPI) and Board Member of SECS explains: “The situation is indeed serious: women living with HIV are affected by hindering of medical assistance during childbirth, failure to comply with medical standards and universal precautions, failure to take special measures to prevent vertical HIV transmission from mother to child, shortages of Anti Retroviral treatment, refusals to provide gynecological consultation, post-abortion healthcare or performance of abortion on request, as well as breaches of confidentiality. We urge member states to put pressure upon Romania to adopt the National Strategy on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy as a matter of urgency.”
“It’s a formidable task to make people aware of their sexual and reproductive rights”, says Vicky Claeys, Regional Director of IPPF EN. “It is essential that the progressive forces continue to inform these processes so that women, never again, are denied their basic human rights!”
For more information, contact Irene Donadio, Manager Public Affairs, IPPF EN at email@example.com