Six Problems with the 'Yogyakarta Principles'
International Organizations Research Group Briefing Paper No. 1
10 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2010
Date Written: April 2, 2007
This paper examines critically the “Yogyakarta Principles,” a statement concerning the “application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity” adopted by representatives from various nongovernmental organizations and United Nations treaty monitoring committee members following a November 2006 conference held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
The Principles have been touted as establishing a “universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply.” It is the author's contention that notwithstanding such ambitions, the Principles reflect only the views of a narrow group of self-identified “experts” and are not binding in international law: The Principles have not been negotiated nor agreed to by member states of the United Nations - indeed, not a single UN human rights treaty mentions sexual orientation and repeated attempts to pass resolutions promoting broad homosexual rights has been repeatedly rejected by UN member states. Nevertheless, insofar as they represent an attempt by activists to present an aspirational, radical social policy vision as a binding norm, the Principles merit closer scrutiny.
The six areas of concern with the Principles are not meant to be exhaustive. A second section elaborates on certain erroneous premises found throughout the Principles, and briefly suggests how a response to the Principles might be formulated.
Keywords: Yogyakarta, international law, sexuality, homosexual, homosexuals, homosexuality, gender identity, gender, United Nations, UN, sexual orientation, NGO, human rights
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