Letter to H.E. Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the General Assembly

H.E. Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa
President of the General Assembly
United Nations Headquarters
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017 USA

16 September 2014

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, are writing to congratulate you on the occasion of the assumption of your duties as President of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

We are confident that you will endeavor to provide wise leadership at the United Nations General Assembly during a year with many milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the opening of the General Assembly; the UN General Assembly Special Session on the International Conference on Population and Development +20; the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform and Programme of Action; and the 25 years celebration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), just to mention a few.

Each of these events is relevant to the promotion and protection of human rights for all without distinction. Indeed, the universality of human rights is one of the key pillars of the United Nations, and one that has relevance to all the work of the General Assembly. Whether we are talking about women’s equality, effective population policies, children’s rights, or prisoner’s rights, there cannot be peace, development, and justice, unless all humans are free and equal, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, intersex, or other status.

From the time when the United National General Assembly opened in Central Hall, Westminster, London with 51 nations represented on January 10, 1945, until today, the General Assembly has provided a forum for political discussion and consultation among its Member States. We are hopeful that you will guide the General Assembly in a spirit of transparency, democracy, and accountability, not shying away from difficult topics, but rather encouraging respectful and open debate about even that on which Member States disagree. This is particularly important when it comes to issues regarding sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

International human rights standards are clear that all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy the full range of human rights, without exception.1 However, every day, millions of individuals across the globe suffer discrimination, exclusion, violence, imprisonment, torture, or even execution because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or intersex status.

We urge you to use the office that has been entrusted to you by the Member States of the United Nations to defend the core principles of that institution. We call on you to guide the General Assembly’s work during this upcoming session in a manner that makes it evident that the United Nations Charter rights are available, in the Charter’s words, to ‘every person’, and that human rights cannot be denied to anyone merely on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

We greatly appreciate you showing leadership on this issue, and look forward to working with your office on this and related issues.

Thank you for your consideration and assistance.

Sincerely,

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1. See Sexual orientation and gender identity in international human rights law: The ICJ UN Compilation (Geneva: International Commission of Jurists, 2013) ISBN 978-9037-178-1, in particular pp. 9-32.