Council of Europe adopts resolution on children’s right to physical integrity

Overnight Australian time, the Council of Europe, a 47-member country institution that overseas human rights, pharma and many other issues across those countries, adopted a resolution on the protection of children’s rights to physical integrity.

A “provisional” version of Resolution 1952 (2013) showing “Text adopted by the Assembly on 1 October 2013” includes a specific statement on intersex, amended after consultation that included consultation with OII Europe. The resolution is based on protection of the rights of the child. This is something that the Australian Senate Inquiry on involuntary or coerced sterilisation has suggested be replaced by a new “best protection of rights test” to better recognise the rights of the future adult, but, nevertheless, the resolution is crucially important in recognising the physical integrity of children – and including intersex children.

The video of the debate shows that an amendment on this issue was uncontroversial.

Issues discussed include the history of surgical sex assignment, lack of evidence to support interventions or data on outcomes, lack of personal consent, and lack of attention to the wishes of the future adult.

Section 2 reads:

2. The Parliamentary Assembly is particularly worried about a category of violation of the physical integrity of children, which supporters of the procedures tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite clear evidence to the contrary. This includes, amongst others, female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersexual children and the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

The Council calls for member countries to:

7.5. take the following measures with regard to specific categories of violation of children’s physical integrity:

and subsection 7.5.3 itemises those measures, including this subsection:

7.5.3. undertake further research to increase knowledge about the specific situation of intersex people, ensure that no-one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment that is cosmetic rather than vital for health during infancy or childhood, guarantee bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination to persons concerned, and provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support;

(It’s important, too to note that the final text of section 7.5.3 shifted significantly due to lobbying – including lobbying by OII Europe together with ILGA-Europe and Genital Autonomy. The original draft was significantly different and can be seen here.) We thank these organisations and Marlene Rupprecht, MdB, for steering the resolution through the Council.

This resolution, which drew on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, will be of major international significance – including in the context of our current Senate Inquiry on involuntary or coerced sterilisation.

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