LGBTI Rights and Universality: Analysing Argumentation at the UN Human Rights Council

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202109153742
Title: LGBTI Rights and Universality: Analysing Argumentation at the UN Human Rights Council
Author: Saikku, Katariina
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202109153742
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/334380
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Globaalin politiikan ja kommunikaation maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Global Politics and Communication
Magisterprogrammet i global politik och kommunikation
Specialisation: Media and Democracy
Media and Democracy
Media and Democracy
Abstract: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that human rights are inalienable and belong to everyone without any large scale exceptions. Thus, supranational human rights bodies focus on monitoring human rights violations, instead of discussing to whom human rights in practice are seen to belong to. However, there are vast differences with how states view universal human rights, which is especially apparent when discussing the rights of sexual and gender minorities. This study set out to discover how states justify not including the rights of sexual and gender minorities under the protection of international human rights treaties by analysing statements made at the UN Human Rights Council. The material for this research were the statements made at the 41st meeting of the Human Rights Council’s 32nd session on the 30th of June 2016. This session voted for the establishment of an independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The session included 23 statements that were made either by a country representative who voted against the establishment, or by a representative whose country abstained from the vote. These statements were analysed with qualitative content analysis, by which nine justification categories were identified. These categories were titled Cultural Relativity, Imposing Values, Moral Grounds, Universality, Lack of Legal Basis, Sovereignty, LGBTI Definition’s Lack of Clarity, Human Rights Council’s Cohesion, and Resolution’s Lack of Clarity. These nine justification categories were further divided into three groups depending on the strength and aim of the argument. This research deduced that cover-up justifications (Lack of Legal Basis, LGBTI Definition’s Lack of Clarity, and Resolution’s Lack of Clarity) where used in arguments to divert the discussion from the root justifications, which were the arguments under Cultural Relativity and Moral Grounds. The statements in the third category (Universality, Sovereignty, Human Rights Council’s Cohesion, and Imposing Values) highlighted the differences with how universality and the mandate of the Human Rights Council is perceived. Understanding the justification categories identified in this research help to direct LGBTI advocacy and resources, and to critically asses the universality of human rights.
Subject: LGBTI rights
universality
human rights
united nations
human rights council


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