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Human Rights Council adopts 2017 resolution to end child marriage in humanitarian settings

  • Resolution recognises child marriage as a violation of human rights and calls for strengthened efforts to prevent and eliminate this harmful practice and support married girls, including in humanitarian contexts.
  • 85 countries have co-sponsored the resolution, including countries with high rates of child marriage
View of the Human Rights Council. Photo credit: UN Photo | Jean-March Ferré

On Thursday 22 June, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts. The resolution, led by The Netherlands and Sierra Leone, was adopted without a vote and co-sponsored by 85 countries.

Nine out of the ten countries with the highest child marriage rates are fragile states.

Girls can be more vulnerable to child marriage during and after humanitarian crises, such as conflict, displacement and natural disasters. Yet they’re often left behind in humanitarian responses. The Human Rights Council resolution is an encouraging step towards addressing child marriage in these contexts.

What the Human Rights Council resolution does

  • This resolution is an important step in putting the issue of child marriage in humanitarian contexts on the agenda of governments, UN agencies, humanitarian actors and others in crisis contexts.
  • It calls upon States and a wide range of other actors to take specific actions to address child marriage, and for the first time says that these efforts are particularly important in humanitarian contexts.
  • It advances the debate on child marriage in the UN context by: acknowledging the basic need for access to justice, sexual and reproductive health and civil registration/vital statistics in humanitarian situations as ways to address child marriage; condemning attacks on educational institutions; and, by acknowledging that gender inequality is the root cause of child marriage.
  • It calls on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to create a web portal containing information on child marriage in humanitarian settings.
  • It requests the High Commissioner to provide a written report on the issue for the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council (June 2019) and update on the report in June 2018.
  • It keeps the issue of strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage on the agenda of the Human Rights Council.

Read further analysis by Girls Not Brides member the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC).

Background to the resolution

This resolution builds on progress made in the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution on child marriage.

Countries in support of the 2017 resolution

Countries who have already co-sponsored the resolution include:

Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Thailand, Tunisia, United States of America, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Zambia.