Ban FGM Stocktaking and Strategy meeting

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, 19-21 November 2011

On 19-21 November, No Peace Without Justice brought together activists and organizations of the BanFGM Coalition in Abijdan, Cote d’Ivoire, to discuss the Campaign for a United Nations General Assembly Resolution to ban FGM worldwide. This is the first time that such a large group of members of the Coalition has come together for this purpose since the Inter-Parliamentary Conference held in Dakar in March 2010. It was therefore a welcome occasion for an in-depth discussion to review the course of the Campaign, take stock of the achievements to date and to analyse and review our strategies from here forward.
The conversation focused on the developments that have occurred over the past months, especially since the Decision of African Heads of State at the African Union Summit at Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in support of a UNGA Resolution. With that historic Decision, African States undertook to lead efforts to adopt a Resolution which will ban FGM worldwide. Following the Decision, the BanFGM Coalition entered into direct contact with African Union representatives, including the Permanent Representative at the United Nations, as well as with the African Group at the United Nations, to provide expertise and technical assistance and facilitate the process to move forward.
A high point of the Coalitions’ work, and a turning point in the Campaign, came on 15 September, when it was invited to make a presentation at the first bi-weekly meeting of the 54 African Group Ambassadors at the 65th Session of the General Assembly, which had just opened two days previously. This meeting was an unprecedented opportunity to present a thorough overview of this human rights violation to the Ambassadors, most of whom were not aware of the gravity, pervasiveness and persistence of the practice.
With the aid of a stirring multimedia presentation, the Coalition gave real meaning to the term ’female genital mutilation’, which has become so familiar that it is easy to ignore the very real violence that it describes. The tireless work of the activists on the ground who have dedicated their lives to bringing an end this violation was highlighted. The Coalition then made a powerful plea to all the Ambassadors present to spare no efforts in ensuring that the Resolution become a reality. Their response was overwhelming: the President of the Group immediately and without hesitation pledged his and the Group’s commitment to move forward and ensure that the Decision of African Heads of State be translated into concrete action aimed at the adoption of a Resolution during the current session of the General Assembly.
Following this meeting in New York and the subsequent consultations with the African Union Representative and members of the African Group, the BanFGM Coalition decided it important to bring together as many members a possible for a ‘stocktaking and strategy’ meeting, at which to discuss the advances in the Campaign and to develop plans for how to best leverage the important recent developments with a view to seeing the Resolution adopted in the current session of the General Assembly. Twenty-six activists from 17 countries gathered in Abidjan for two days of discussion, focused largely on identifying elements considered important for inclusion in a Resolution banning FGM, to make it a truly useful instrument in the fight against this human rights violation. They also developed plans for actions to take at the national, regional and international level to encourage the adoption of the Resolution as well as to begin wider outreach aimed at promoting a sense of ownership among all FGM activists so that the adoption of the Resolution will be a true first step to eliminate the practice worldwide.
Final Resolution: English, French
Ban FGM Recommendation: English, French