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Submission to the Commission on Unalienable Rights

Dear Members of the US State Department Commission on Unalienable Rights,

As a human rights non-governmental organization, we write to express our deep concern with the Commission, its work to date, and the potential harm that a final report produced by the Commission, in line with its mandate and the views expressed by several of its members, may have on the international human rights framework.

In particular, based on comments made by members of the Commission during public hearings, we are concerned that the Commission’s final report will aim to reinterpret the agreed-upon international human rights framework in a manner that regresses on clearly recognized and protected rights, including through the establishment of interpretations that are at odds with those from human rights bodies, experts, and courts, and may seek to establish a false and preferential hierarchy of rights. Any hierarchy that privileges some human rights – such as the freedom of religion – to the exclusion of others – such as sexual and reproductive rights, is fundamentally contrary to the framework of modern human rights, including as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”). Finally, we have strong concerns with regards to the Commission’s approach to sexual and reproductive rights, which is the particular focus of this submission.

With this letter we wish to reiterate that the international human rights law framework already adequately defines human rights; in particular, within that framework access to safe abortion has become firmly entrenched as a protected right.

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