Expressing dismay over the choice of keynote speaker representing CSO’s during 25 September opening plenary UN Sustainable Development Summit

My organization together with 28 others have expressed dismay over the choice of keynote speaker representing CSO’s during 25 September UN Sustainable Development Summit.  See full list of Speakers  We addressed a letter to the President of the General Assembly 69th Session, H.E. Mr. Sam Kutessa with copies to UN NGLS and UN DESA, civil society section.  Copy of signed letter


“It is with a sense of dismay that we read that Mr. Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International is selected as the keynote speaker during the 25th September opening plenary of the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015 on behalf of CSOs. The dismay results from the recent controversy over the adoption on August 11, 2015 of a resolution recommending that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of prostitution or what Amnesty International calls “sex work.”

While we welcome the decriminalization of all women engaged in prostitution and the protection of their human rights, we note that this resolution fosters the decriminalization of the ‘commercial sex industry’ that includes pimps, brothel owners and buyers of sex, who are the main perpetrators of violence and abuse against those in prostitution. Prostitution is not ‘decent work’ and is rather a denial of the dignity and worth of every woman and girl. Prostitution is a continuation of a patriarchal system, a form of slavery, and violence against women. The existence of the ‘sex industry’ is one of the root causes of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.   Amnesty International’s proposed framework to decriminalize pimps, brothel owners and buyers of sex is in direct violation of the 1949 Convention on the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, CEDAW, the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It is regrettable that your selection of Mr. Salil Shetty as the keynote speaker was made at this time. During the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Abba (July 2015) CSOs were expressing concern about the strong tendency towards the instrumentalization and commodification of women in the economy and the market place. This Resolution proposed by Amnesty International is in direct opposition to the United Nations aspiration to leave no woman or girl behind in our collective quest to achieve gender equality. Amnesty International’s resolution in effect is endorsing male demand for ‘sex’ and ensuring the availability of a supply of women framing the argument within a distorted Human Rights Framework.”

After sending the letter to the President of the General Assembly there have been six more signatures: .

  1. The Women’s Front of Norway, ECOSOC Status
  2. Ruhama, Ireland  – Sarah Benson CEO
  3. Dr. Oranna Keller-Mannschreck,
  4. Anna Fisher
  5. RadFem Collective
  6. Davis Wendy,