The UN human rights treaties prohibit FGM/C, as do regional human rights conventions such as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. These instruments oblige state parties to ensure that girls and women are protected against genital cutting through prevention, victim support and the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.
FGM/C constitutes a grave violation of human rights. The practice violates both the right to physical and mental integrity and the right to health. FGM/C represents a form of gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls.
The prohibition of FGM/C extends as far back as the core UN human rights instruments, and specifically to the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment, such as those formulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture. The right to health is guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These same rights are also protected by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Not only international human rights conventions at UN level put countries under an obligation to combat FGM/C; there are regional instruments that do so as well.
Action has also been taken to combat the practice of female genital cutting at political level, e.g. at international conferences such as the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 or the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.