Second Cycle of Review

In the second cycle of review, there were a significantly greater number of recommendations issued, with a total of 311. Aside from one recommendation, all remained the same form as in the previous cycle. The new form of recommendation introduced in the second cycle has been labelled as Recommendation 6. No new forms of responses were issued by the states under review from the previous cycle, but for the sake of clarity in relation to the presentation, the table in relation to the responses has largely been the same, with two exceptions, which will be noted below.


A total of 15 states were issued with a recommendation under this cycle, which was only one less to the number of states that were issued with it in the first cycle. However, unlike the first cycle, no state in the second cycle noted the recommendation. The states of Ghana, Tanzania, Mali, and Niger were issued with this form of recommendation under both cycles. Of these, only Tanzania provided a different response. Ghana maintained its position in the second cycle as it accepted the recommendation and made no further comments. Whereas Mali and Niger both accepted the recommendations both issued an A4 response under both cycles. Tanzania moved from an Al response in the first cycle, to an A4 type of response in the second cycle. In fact, as with the first cycle, this was the most popular form of response by states when issued with this recommendation. For example, Somalia noted that it had implemented ‘educational awareness campaigns, and a dialogue with traditional and religious leaders, women’s groups and practitioners to eliminate the practice of FGM’.38 Finally, Gambia and Guinea both issued an A5 response; both outlined that given the strong cultural background of the practices, the elimination has been proven challenging, despite this information on incremental reforms in place was provided.39


This form of recommendation which encouraged states to undertake incremental reforms was issued to 26 states in the second cycle, with only one state who refused to accept the recommendation. In response, the most popular response was the A4 response, shortly followed by an A5 response. An example of the latter is Cameroon in the second cycle who stated that ‘the delegation recognized that female genital mutilation was an unacceptable human tragedy arising from both cultural and economic factors, that awareness-raising was necessary to end such practices and that excisers should be given the opportunity to retrain’.40 On the other hand, Indonesia in the second cycle noted the recommendation and provided an N5 response by stating there is a dialogue with ‘religious and community leaders on the issue of female circumcision with the view to eliminating the practice’.41 This statement coupled with the state not accepting the

Women’s Right to Health 89 recommendation implies that there are cultural and religious values that hinder the eradication of the practice.


The category of recommendations suggested that the states under review implement domestic laws to prohibit the practice of FGM. This form was issued to a total of 30 states under review, which is a slight increase to the states that were issued with this recommendation in the previous cycle and also the most popular form of recommendation in the second cycle. Of these a total of 26 states accepted the recommendation, and four states noted the recommendation, making it the form of recommendation that was the most highly noted in the second cycle of review. Those states that accepted the recommendation provided a range of response, with an A4 response being the highest cited response, shortly followed by an Al response. There were a number of instances where states under review have altered their positions in the second cycle from when the same form of recommendation was issued as the first cycle.

There was a total of six states that provided the same response as they had under the previous cycle. The states of Oman and Cote d’Ivoire remained with its position of accepting the recommendation without any further comments, whilst Sudan maintained its position that domestic laws were already in place. Elsewhere, Benin, Mauritania, and Niger all reiterated the incremental reforms that were in place to address the practice, thereby providing an A4 response. On the one hand, Chad, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda, all submitted an Al response in the first cycle, but under the second cycle chose to provide additional statements whilst accepting the recommendation. Uganda and Chad made reference to laws that were in place or under review in their dialogue, respectively. On the other hand, Ethiopia and Tanzania provided an A4 response by referring to incremental reforms that were being implemented to help eradicate the practice; both states did not make reference to the issue in relation to laws being implemented on FGM. Guinea, Nigeria, and Togo were also issued with a recommendation of this nature under both cycles. Guinea and Nigeria both changed their positions from submitting that incremental reforms were already in place, towards adding that cultural justifications for the practice of FGM make its elimination challenging in the second cycle. In other instances, Togo, whilst accepting the recommendation formally, insisted that the instances in which FGM had been carried out had dropped. Kenya changed its position from describing incremental reforms in place, to insisting that domestic laws already were in place to address the practice of FGM. Republic of Congo moved from explaining that cultural justifications made the elimination of the practice difficult in the first cycle, to an A4 response of outlining the incremental reforms already in place. Some notable changes are that of Cameroon and Guinea Bissau, who responded with an A3 response in the first cycle as the delegate stated that domestic laws were under review, whilst in the second cycle they drew upon the cultural barriers that existed in preventing the implementation of the practice, thereby provided an A5 response. Forinstance, the delegate of Cameroon stated that ‘female genital mutilation was an unacceptable human tragedy arising from both cultural and economic factors, that awareness-raising was necessary to end such practices and that excisers should be given the opportunity' to retrain’.42

There were more significant movements when issued with recommendations in relation to three states, who drastically altered their positions. Liberia changed its position on FGM from noting the recommendation by issuing an N5 using cultural justification a hindrance to its elimination to changing its position to accept the recommendation. When issued with the same recommendation, Liberia accepted the recommendation and provided an A3 response, stating that ‘Liberia was going through a constitutional review process ... and the law should protect women from all forms of violence including female genital mutilation’. In addition, Somalia and Sierra Leone when issued with this recommendation under the previous cycle accepted, issuing an A3 response by Somalia, and an A4 response by Sierra Leone. In the second cycle, both states changed their position to note the recommendation and provide an N5 response. For example, the delegate of Sierra Leone stated ‘we will however continue to maintain a ban on the initiation of under-18 girls while engaging our public on the future of cultural practices such as female genital mutilation’.43 In this way, whilst the nature of the statements was not dramatically different to the previous cycle, the official position on the recommendation was changed to not being accepted. Finally, the state of Gambia under the previous cycle issued an N4 response; however, under the current cycle, whilst still noting the recommendation the tone of the response was more subtle and instead of justifying the continuance of the practice of FGM on cultural grounds, the state stated that it was engaging with cultural leaders with the aim of eliminating the practice.


Under this recommendation states under review were directed to comply with their international human rights obligations in relation to FGM. There was a drastic reduction in the number of states that were issued with this resolution in the second cycle in comparison to the first. In the second cycle, only Sudan noted the recommendation, and stated that laws in relation to FGM were already in place. Of those that accepted the recommendations, the states’ responses were spilt between an Al response and an A4 response. Oman and Cote d’Ivoire both provided an Al response; for Oman this was the same response as the previous cycle. Sierra Leone also provided the same responses as the last cycle; an A4 response. The most significant movement was the by the state of Mali, who under the previous cycle refused to accept the recommendation and provided an N4 response. In the second cycle, the state changed its position and accepted the recommendation and issued and stated that it had implemented incremental reforms to address the practice. In this way, whilst the state moved to accepting the recommendation, the nature of the response remained the same.


This form of recommendation was vague in nature. It instructed the states under review to simply implement measures to eradicate the practices of FGM, without providing any specific details as to the nature of the measures. An example of this form of recommendation is when the delegate of the Netherlands issued a recommendation to Chad to ‘Continue the eradication of the practice of female genital mutilation’. This form of recommendation was not issued during the discussion on FGM in the first cycle of review. A total of 24 states were issued with this type of recommendation, of which only two states did not accept the recommendation. The states that accepted the recommendations provided a response that was distributed across the different categories. The majority of the states provided an A4 response, with the responses of Al and referring to existing laws on the practice, an A2 response being equally used. This shows that the majority of the states under review made references to legislation, suggesting that the eradication through implementing laws was a method used to eliminate the practice. Malawi was one of the two states that did not accept the recommendation and did not provide any further comments. Under the previous cycle, when issued with a different form of recommendation, Malawi denied the existence of the practice in the domestic context.


This form of a recommendation was the only that instructed states to share their existing practices. For instance, South Sudan issued a recommendation to Cote d’Ivoire to ‘share experience with states within the region and benefit from their experiences in combating female genital mutilation’. The states of Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire were the only states that were issued with this recommendation, and they accepted the recommendation without any further comment.

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