In July 2017, during its 120th session, the Human Rights Committee (HRC) finalised its first reading of draft General Comment on article 6 of the Covenant and invited all interested stakeholders to comment on the Committee’s Draft. Comments had to be received by 6 October 2017.
The document was 22 pages long with 71 paragraphs on the many pressing issues that the right to life raises. There was only one paragraph about abortion, paragraph 9.
Comments were submitted by 21 States, most of them from the developed regions; 6 UN bodies/experts; 33 academics and other professionals; 3 national institutions; and over 100 NGOs. They can be accessed and read on the website reporting the progress of the General Comment.
We submitted a brief comment from the Campaign. The Center for Reproductive Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists and Ipas submitted a joint statement, which garnered 70 signatories.
Given the complexity of the meaning of the right to life, the many ways in which all other human rights depend upon it, and the many ways in which the right to life is currently being violated, it is disappointing to say the least that the anti-abortion movement has again overwhelmed the Human Rights Committee with submissions complaining about abortion. Hopefully those submissions which are about the right to life of persons are more enlightening and will support the HRC in finalising what is overall an incredible document.