Ghana: Is it time for the Government of Ghana to invite the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for an official ‘country visit’?

Kwaku Adomako is a PhD candidate in Social Sciences with a focus on Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He is affiliated to the gender centres both at the University of Lausanne and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

By Kwaku Adomako, edited by Alan David McGory (Opinion piece originally published on Modern Ghana, 31.07.2019)

July 12 2019 marked a momentous occasion, when member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), located in Geneva Switzerland, voted to renew the mandate of the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IE on SOGI). Since 2016, the IE on SOGI uses a range of tools to support states in strengthening “protection from violence and discrimination” based on SOGI. While it is obvious for supporters of the IE on SOGI that the eleven amendments presented by opposing states at the mandate’s original tabling were intended to ‘weaken’ it, within the apparent constraints, there may be opportunities for nuanced engagement with the issues the IE on SOGI is appointed to address.

One of the amendments that appears in the mandate stipulates that the IE on SOGI, must respect “relevant domestic debates at the national level on matters associated with historical, cultural, social and religious sensitivities” (A/HRC/RES/32/2 ¶9). This might not necessarily undermine the IE’s ability to support states in addressing violence and discrimination based on SOGI, but could potentially enhance the mandate holder’s ability to achieve this objective; the required attentiveness to historical, cultural and religious sensitivities should ease concerns related to national sovereignty, and self-determination, thereby facilitating the participation of states in ways that interest groups might otherwise be hard-pressed to achieve. In the three years that the mandate has been held, initially by Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn, and now Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the IE on SOGI has been invited by the states of Ukraine, Mozambique, Georgia, and Argentina, to conduct ‘country visits.’ During these visits, the IE on SOGI provided  “advisory services, technical assistance, capacity-building and international cooperation” in view of helping states “raise awareness” and address “root causes of violence and discrimination” related to SOGI, in line with the aforementioned mandate A/HRC/RES/32/2. So far, Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz has had glowing reviews from the member states of the HRC that have engaged with him. As he is scheduled to conduct his next country visit to Sri Lanka, why not have him do the same in Ghana? Read more via Arc International