Harmful Traditional Practices

This is a term used to refer to practices that cause harm to the individual but continue to be done because they are considered part of a ‘culture’ or ‘tradition’. Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting is an example of a harmful traditional practice.


The assumption by individuals, communities or institutions, that everyone is heterosexual, and that heterosexuality is natural or even superior to other sexual orientations.


A sexual orientation whereby a person experiences sexual, emotional, and/or romantic attraction to a sex other than your own. Commonly referred to as “attraction to the opposite sex”, however, this definition does not take into account that there are more than two sexes.

High-Level Political Forum (HLPF)

The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is a relatively new UN process which took place for the first time in New York in July 2016, and which was put in place to monitor and assess the global implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Like with the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the Commission on Population and Development (CPD), the HLPF has a yearly theme that explores a selection of SDGs which will be reviewed more in depth during the annual event in New York.

The HLPF is meant to build upon other, already existing, review and accountability mechanisms like the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The outcome documents of these commissions will to feed into the processes of the HLPF. The relationship between the HLPF and human rights mechanisms, like the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and treaty monitoring bodies, like the Commission on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEAW), is less formal but still very important. For instance, their review processes can also take into account the progress towards certain targets from the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, The HLPF also has a review mechanism called the Voluntary National Review (VNR), which encourages member states to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress achieved in implementing the SDGs at the national level, by signing up for this voluntary review process. During the review portion of the HLPF, the states under review are asked to prepare and present a report on their progress in implementing the SDGs, with the aim of facilitating a sharing of experiences and lessons learned. The preparation of the VNR is supposed to be a participatory and inclusive process, and civil society is encouraged to take an active role.


The irrational fear of, discrimination against, and/or hatred towards a person who is, or who is suspected of being, homosexual, or any behavior or characteristic that does not conform to rigid gender roles and stereotypes.


A sexual orientation whereby a person is primarily aesthetically, romantically, sensually, and/or sexually attracted to persons of the same gender identity and/or expression. Note that this term is considered offensive in some contexts, as it has been used by American anti-LGBT activists as a way to stigmatize people who are gay, and reduce their lives to just a sexual orientation.

Human Rights

Human rights are universal, inalienable, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. They are universal because everyone is born with and possesses the same rights, regardless of where they live, their age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, or any other factor. Inalienable because people’s rights can never be taken away. Indivisible and interdependent because all rights – political, civil, social, cultural and economic – are equal in importance and none can be fully enjoyed without the others. Human Rights are upheld by the rule of law, and states and other duty-bearers are held accountable for protecting these rights.

Human Rights Council

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world, and for addressing human rights violations and making recommendations on them. The HRC is made up of 47 UN member states which are elected by the UN General Assembly. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a sub-organ of the HRC which reviews the human rights records of each UN Member State. Key thematic issues that the HRC works on include: LGBT rights, women's rights, the rights of racial and ethnic minorities, the right to freedom of association and assembly, the right to freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion etc.

Human-Rights Based Approach

A Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) is an approach which is centered on promoting and protecting human rights. Usually an RBA aims to strengthen the capacity of duty-bearers to promote, protect, and fulfill the rights of rights-holders. It also empowers rights-holders, and allows them to hold duty-bearers accountable. A RBA often focuses on groups that are the most marginalized or discriminated against. A RBA sees people as key actors in their own development rather than as passive recipients or commodities or services; the empowerment of individuals and communities and the dismantling of inequality is seen as a priority.