Launching of Primer: Conducting Public Inquiries to Eliminate Female Genital Mutilation

08 December 2020 at  8:30-10:00 AM CET via Zoom

Read the final Primer : Conducting Public Inquiries to Eliminate Female Genital Mutilation here


Female genital mutilation, FGM, is an invasive procedure which entails the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Globally, 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM and another 68 million girls are at risk of being cut by 2030 if current trends continue. Female genital mutilation endangers the health of women and girls and can lead to long-term physical, psychological and social consequences. The practice is a violation of multiple regional and international human rights treaties and is rooted in gender inequalities, restricting girls and women from realizing their rights. UN Member States agreed upon its elimination under Target 5.3 of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

In 2012, the 11th International Conference of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, now known as the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, made a commitment encapsulated in the Amman Declaration and Programme of Action for Promoting Gender Equality. To support national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in taking forward this commitment, which was institutionalised in UNFPA’s Strategic Plan in 2014, UNFPA, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Danish Institute for Human Rights published a handbook providing guidance on the nature and normative framework for reproductive rights as well as practical information for advancing these.

Most recently, in July 2020, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 44/16, without a vote and with co-sponsorship by over 100 United Nations Member States, including all members of the African Union and the European Union. The resolution Urged States strengthen accountability systems to prevent and eliminate female genital mutilation, including by “developing the capacity of national human rights institutions to investigate human rights violations related to the practice of female genital mutilation and to monitor progress in preventing and eliminating this harmful practice”. In order to guide this strategic ask, UNFPA developed a primer for NHRIs in countries where female genital mutilation is prevalent. The document provides a concise one-stop tool for planning and conducting a public inquiry on female genital mutilation.

The timeliness of this tool cannot be overstated as governments are increasing their political commitment to eliminate FGM at global and regional intergovernmental processes including at the Ouagadougou call to action to eliminate FGM (2019), the national commitments made by governments at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 and the recommendations states formally accept at the Universal Periodic Review. Indeed, a recent study published by UNFPA show that increasing expression of commitment. It is hoped that the engagement of NHRIs through the roll out of the primer on public inquires will contribute to translate that commitment into action.


The event aimed to examine the role of NHRIs in promoting accountability for women and girls in the prevention and elimination of FGMs. The event examined in particular the monitoring role of NHRIs, including through the roll-out of national inquiries as well as through their engagement with International Human Rights Mechanism, such as UN Treaty Body reviews and the Universal Periodic Review.

Launching the above primer, this event co-organized by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) and UNFPA seeked to engage national human rights institutions and their partners, civil society and all relevant stakeholders to:

  • Provide the context for national human rights institutions in focusing on gender equality and female genital mutilation in particular, and UNFPA’s support for this work;
  • Take stock of the linkages between the human rights related to female genital mutilation, national human rights institutions and public inquiries;
  • Share the experiences of national human rights institutions that have readily engaged in efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation;
  • Share experiences on raising the policy attention to the prevention and elimination of FGM through their engagement with international human rights mechanisms
  • Build momentum for prioritizing public inquiries as strategic interventions for eliminating female genital mutilation and recognizing NHRIs’ key role in the drive to zero cases of FGM.
  • Sharing experiences on rolling out national inquires to monitor the implementation of human rights recommendations by international and regional mechanisms and national commitments made by states at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25.