UN General Assembly Adopts Worldwide Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

New York, 20 December 2012

On 20 December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution to Ban FGM worldwide. The Resolution [A/RES/67/146] was cosponsored by two thirds of the General Assembly, including the entire African Group, and was adopted by consensus by all UN members. Its adoption reflects universal agreement that female genital mutilation constitutes a violation of human rights, which all countries of the world should address through “all necessary measures, including enacting and enforcing legislation to prohibit FGM and to protect women and girls from this form of violence, and to end impunity”.
The adoption of a worldwide ban on FGM by the United Nations General Assembly constitutes a paradigm shift in the fight against this widespread and systematic human rights violation, committed against millions of girls and women in Africa and around the world. The majority of countries in the world lack legislation to protect these women and girls; where laws have been enacted, political will to implement them effectively seldom follows.
The Resolution was hailed by the Ban FGM Campaign, an ever-expanding coalition of human rights activists that has been working towards a worldwide ban on FGM, including No Peace Without Justice, the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices, Euronet-FGM, and the NGOs La Palabre, Manifesto 99 and Equality Now.
From the grass-roots to the policy level, those involved with the campaign consistently advocate for clear and effective national legislation to unequivocally ban FGM in their respective countries, in order to legitimize their local advocacy and educational efforts, to strengthen those who seek to defy the social pressures of tradition and reject FGM, and to protect its victims. The worldwide ban just adopted by the United Nations empowers those campaigning around the world to enact and enforce national legislation against FGM, and to end impunity for this human rights violation.
The Resolution’s adoption is the culmination of years of dedication from each and every coalition member, working together with the African Union and UN member States, such as Burkina Faso and Italy, and the sustained commitment of political leaders such as Emma Bonino and Chantal Compaoré, who have been most dedicated to combatting the practice at home and internationally.
The adoption of the Resolution is, however, not an end in itself: it is just the beginning of a new chapter in the fight against FGM. It is now up to all States and all of us to work together, so that the women and girls of tomorrow will be free from the threat of FGM.

Ban FGM Campaign
Over the past years, the members of the Ban FGM Coalition have collaborated on several initiatives to raise awareness internationally about the need for a UNGA Resolution banning this human rights violation, gathering the support of human rights activists, women’s organizations, parliamentarians and government representatives from throughout Africa and Europe.
Tangible momentum towards a Resolution has been gathering speed over this past year. A key step in the process was the July 2011 AU Assembly Decision by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in support of a Resolution by the General Assembly.
The African Group at the UN took action to implement the will of the Heads of State by introducing a CSW Decision at the Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March 2012, recommending that the issue of FGM, until now discussed only within the context of the CSW, be formally considered by the General Assembly under the agenda item “Advancement of Women”. In July 2012, the ECOSOC adopted the CSW recommendation and requested that the issue of female genital mutilation be added to the agenda of the 67th General Assembly. On 26 November 2012, the Social, Humanitarian Cultural Affairs Committee (commonly referred to as the Third Committee) of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the draft resolution “Intensifying Global Efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation”, paving the way to its formal adoption by the  67th General Assembly.

For more information, Alvilda Jablonko, FGM Coordinator - No Peace Without Justice, email: ajablonko@npwj.org Tel +1 (212) 980-2558, mobile +1 (347) 476-2327 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32 (0)2 548-39 15.