Yesterday, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for urgent action to curb maternal death. The Human Rights Council reaffirmed that pregnancy-related deaths and injuries are a human rights issue, and therefore human rights must be integrated into maternal health policies and programs. In addition, the Council called for disaggregated data collection and the adoption of national-level targets and indicators in order to identify and address underlying causes of maternal mortality and morbidity. Ninety-five countries co-sponsored the resolution.
There are far-reaching implications for the resolution, which was celebrated by maternal health advocates around the world as a much-needed call to action. Ximena Andion, international advocacy director at the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated: “This resolution is a reminder to states that money alone will not fix the problem. Eliminating preventable maternal deaths and disability also means eliminating the underlying causes and guaranteeing the full range of women’s human rights.”
Earlier this summer, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report which called for a rights-based approach to maternal mortality. Included within the new resolution is a call for an additional report by OHCHR on best practices for applying these approaches.
The resolution marks significant progress, yet much work remains. “It is critical that the Council uses this resolution to ensure that all stakeholders implement the findings and recommendations of the OHCHR study,” said Sandeep Prasad of the Sexual Rights Initiative. “We hope that States will take this commitment seriously.”