UNAIDS and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), two agencies within the United Nations, along with the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) have published a group of “new legal principles” that would advance “decriminalization efforts” globally, and principal 16 stated “sexual conduct involving persons below the domestically prescribed minimum age of consent to sex may be consensual.” These new legal principles were launched on International Women’s Day.
The principles were the product of a 2018 workshop between the three organizations and developed over the next five years “based on feedback and reviews from a range of experts and stakeholder,” according to the UNAIDS website. The principles’ goal was to push decriminalization globally for a wide range of actions, including sexual conduct.
The International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) along with UNAIDS and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) officially launched a new set of expert jurist legal principles to guide the application of international human rights law to criminal law.
The ‘8 March principles’ as they are called lay out a human rights-based approach to laws criminalising conduct in relation to sex, drug use, HIV, sexual and reproductive health, homelessness and poverty.
Here’s Principle 16:
…sexual conduct involving persons below the domestically prescribed minimum age of consent to sex may be consensual in fact, if not in law. In this context, the enforcement of criminal law should reflect the rights and capacity of persons under 18 years of age to make decisions about engaging in consensual sexual conduct and their right to be heard in matters concerning them.