Working Paper
Karplus M. CEDAW Reservations: Family. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School; Working Paper.Abstract

A list of all countries with reservations on CEDAW pertaining to the family.

CEDAW - OP Article 8 chart - Optional Protocol "Article 8 Inquiry". Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School; Working Paper.Abstract

This chart visualizes the inquiry process for article 8 of CEDAW. 

VAW Research Briefing - Yale Law School. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School; Working Paper.Abstract

The presentation uses case studies from Bulgaria and the Philippines to analyze the effectiveness of CEDAW on a state-level. 

Eslick N. CEDAW Article Brief Descriptions. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School; Working Paper.Abstract

This document provides short summaries of the articles of CEDAW.

CEDAW – Brief Overview on Reporting. UN Women [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The Convention obliges States parties to submit to the Secretary-General a report on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures that they have adopted to implement the Convention within a year after its entry into force and then at least every four years thereafter or whenever the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) so requests. These reports, which may indicate factors and difficulties in implementation, are forwarded to the CEDAW for its consideration.

 The Committee has adopted guidelines to help states prepare these reports. According to these guidelines, the initial report is intended to be a detailed and comprehensive description of the position of women in that country at the time of submission; it is meant to provide a benchmark against which subsequent progress can be measured. Second and subsequent national reports are intended to update the previous report, detailing significant developments that have occurred over the last four years, noting key trends, and identifying obstacles to the full achievement of the Convention.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women -- General Recommendations. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The Committee also makes recommendations on any issue affecting women to which it believes the States parties should devote more attention. For example, at the 1989 session, the Committee discussed the high incidence of violence against women, requesting information on this problem from all countries. In 1992, the Committee adopted general recommendation 19 on violence against women, asking States parties to include in their periodic reports to the Committee statistical data on the incidence of violence against women, information on the provision of services for victims, and legislative and other measures taken to protect women against violence in their everyday lives, including against harassment at the workplace, abuse in the family and sexual violence. As of January 2014, the Committee has adopted 30 general recommendations. 

Pancio K. Barriers to Implementing VAW Law Against Domestic Violence in Three Asian Countries (China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka), in Initiative on VAW, March 2014 Research Briefing. Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School of Government ; 2014.Abstract

Subject: This research memorandum presents key findings from desk research conducted in January and February 2014, on the barriers to instituting appropriate VAW laws against domestic violence (DV), and to effectively implementing them in three countries in Asia (China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka).

Background and Cross-Cutting Findings: China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have all ratified CEDAW; however, both China and Pakistan have not passed the Optional Protocol to CEDAW. Research found four cross-cutting barriers impeding the institutionalization of appropriate VAW laws against DV in these three countries:

1)  The predominant public discourse on DV is fragmented. As a result, an overall sense of urgency and severity of the problem is not felt among key stakeholders in all 3 countries.

2)  Other national policies regarding housing, marriage, fertility, migration, etc. undermine both the international (CEDAW) legal framework, and the national policies set up for service provision and protection across all three countries.

3)  There is an overall lack of appropriate resource allocation among all 3 countries for comprehensively implementing appropriate VAW laws against DV. A large body of evidence suggests multiple root causes for VAW-DV, and States disagree on where and how to allocate resources to VAW-DV (prevention, intervention, prosecution, and protection).

4)  Incomparable and unreliable data is the 4th major barrier to instituting appropriate VAW laws against DV both internationally through CEDAW, and nationally within all 3 countries. Transparency of data collection methodologies is also a noted concern. 

Eslick N. Violence against Women in Australia and The National Action Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, in Initiative on VAW, Research Briefing. Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School of Government ; 2014.Abstract

Violence against Women (VAW) is a pervasive, global human rights violation. This research memo discusses the current state of VAW in Australia, and the Australian Governments proposed National Action Plan (NAP) addressing VAW across Australia’s diverse community. Noting that women’s rights are not fully protected by the Commonwealth and revealing the current appalling statistics around domestic and sexual violence against Australian women, the memo then provides insight on Indigenous women and VAW, followed by a deeper look at NAP. Finally, after a brief look at the recent study tour of Australia by the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Australia’s commitment to addressing VAW is discussed with reference to reporting for CEDAW and UPR. The memo then considers the Special Rapporteur’s study tour in light of the election of a new federal government. It then concludes that if the state shows genuine commitment to its people, and to its obligations under human rights treaties, the onus ultimately rests on it to work with civil society to make use of the human rights mechanisms and seek to honestly and with purpose examine their human rights status and develop and adopt sustainable positive change. 

Sri V. CEDAW Summary - At the Global Level - Draft. 2013.Abstract

The CEDAW Committee has attempted to fill in gaps with respect to violence against women and has directly addressed the obligations of the States parties under the Convention with respect to these issues, but such recommendations are not legally binding on the States parties. The following charts relating to the Convention’s language and implementation summarize some of the benefits and drawbacks of or gaps in the Convention on issues relating to violence against women.

Manjoo R. Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo - 14 May 2013. United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Report located in the second row of the fourth page - A/HRC/23/49

The present report addresses the topic of State responsibility for eliminating violence against women. As a general rule, State responsibility is based on acts or omissions committed either by State actors or by actors whose actions are attributable to the State. A longstanding exception to this rule is that a State may incur responsibility where there is a failure to exercise due diligence to prevent or respond to certain acts or omissions of non-State actors. The due diligence standard serves as a tool for rights holders to hold States accountable, by providing an assessment framework for ascertaining what constitutes effective fulfilment of a State’s obligations, and for analysing its actions or omissions. For due diligence to be satisfied, the formal framework established by the State must also be effective in practice.

CEDAW. CEDAW General Recommendation No. 29 - 2013 - Marriage & Family Relations. C/GC/29 [Internet]. 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Article 16 of the Convention provides for the elimination of discrimination against women at the inception of marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution by divorce or death. In 1994 the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women adopted general recommendation No. 21, which elaborated upon many aspects of article 16 as well as its relationship to articles 9 and 15. General recommendation No. 21 notes that article 16 (1) (h) specifically refers to the economic dimensions of marriage and its dissolution. This new general recommendation builds upon principles articulated in general recommendation No. 21, other relevant general recommendations such as No. 27, and the Committee‟s jurisprudence. It invokes the definition of discrimination contained in article 1 of the Convention and calls upon States parties to take legal and policy measures as required under article 2 of the Convention and general recommendation No. 28. It also integrates social and legal developments that took place since the adoption of GR 21, such as the adoption by some State parties of laws on registered partnerships and/or de facto unions, as well as the increase in the number of couples living in such relationships. 

Breaking the Silence on Violence against Indigenous Girls, Adolescents and Young Women. UN Women, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (OSRSG/VAC); 2013. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The study, the first of its kind, reviews existing quantitative and qualitative data on the prevalence and incidence of the types of violence which have already been documented in relation to these groups in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Three countries were selected, one per region, to illustrate the findings. For Latin America, Guatemala was selected for the study to benefit from its widely documented experience as a post-conflict country and for its on-going legislative and institutional reforms aimed at addressing issues such as femicide and sexual violence among indigenous women and girls. For Africa, Kenya was chosen, given available evidence on the prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting among indigenous communities and promising legislative developments in this field. Finally, in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines was selected because of the involvement of girls and adolescents in armed conflict in the predominantly indigenous area of Mindanao and accompanying initiatives to address this situation. 

Padilla CR. Asia Pacific Roundtable: International and Regional Standard setting to eliminate Violence Against Women 2013, in Asia Pacific Roundtable. Bali, Indonesia ; 2013.Abstract

This paper provides background information on the international legal and policy framework on
violence against women, plural legal systems and women’s movements for the participants
attending the Asia Pacific Roundtable: International and Regional Standard setting to eliminate
Violence Against Women 2013, set to be held on 7 and 8 Dec, in Bali, Indonesia.

Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its combined sixth and seventh periodic report, which was well structured and, in general, followed the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of reports, although it lacked references to the Committee’s general recommendations and to some specific sex disaggregated data. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its oral presentation, the written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-session working group, and the further clarifications to the questions posed orally by the Committee.

Human Rights in the Pacific - Country Outlines 2012. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The Pacific with its huge geographic coverage and small populations is often overlooked in global and regional research and publications. Documented information about what is happening in the Pacific can be hard to find for both Pacific Islanders and people new to the region. International organisations that document human rights issues in much of the world often do not include the Pacific Islands. This is not to say that information on human rights in the Pacific does not exist. It does and there are many sources for it. However, until now, it has not been brought together in one place to provide an overview of human rights issues in the region. We hope that this publication, Human Rights in the Pacific – Country Outlines, provides such an overview and guides readers to sources and people that can provide further information.

CEDAW. Case of R. K. B. v. Turkey. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract



R.K.B.’s employer accused her of having an affair with a male colleague and dismissed her from the position but did not dismiss the male colleague, and threatened to “spread rumours about her relationships with other men” to pressure her to sign a document, attesting that she had been paid all her benefits upon termination. R.K.B. presented a claim to the Committee, alleging that her employer, a hairdressing salon, had unfairly terminated her contract of employment based on gender stereotypes. The Kocaeli 3rd Labour Court did not agree with the petitioner that dismissing her but not her male colleague was discriminatory. The court simply decided that the termination of her contract had not been justified.  R.K.B. appealed to the Court of Cassation, which dismissed the appeal without reference to gender discrimination.

The Committee concluded that the Turkish courts based their decisions on gender stereotypes, tolerating allegations of extramarital relationships by male employees but not by female employees. The Committee decided that there had been a violation of articles 5(a), 11(1a) and 11(1d) of CEDAW.  The Committee also responded to the State argument that laws on women’s rights had been adopted since the 1990s, hence meeting the due diligence standard, by explaining that the State has the obligation to actually improve women’s position in society and to eliminate wrongful stereotypes.  The Committee decided that adequate compensation should be paid to the author; that the State should take measures to implement laws on gender equality in the work environment; and that the State should provide training to judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel on women’s rights and gender-based stereotypes.


Simonovic D. International framework on violence against women with focus on the CEDAW. Peace Women; 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract


This expert paper was written by Dr. Dubravka Simonovic, a member of the UN CEDAW Committee, for the expert group meeting on the ‘Prevention of violence against women and girls’ (September 2012). The purpose of the meeting was to contribute to a deeper understanding of violence against women and girls, in preparation for 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

In the introduction, the author writes about the importance of the CEDAW Convention (1979) and its Optional Protocol (2000). Although there is not a specific global convention on the prevention of violence against women, CEDAW protects women from all forms of discrimination, including violence against women. However, gender-based violence, especially domestic violence, remains the most common and widespread violation of women’s human rights. The author then goes on to describe the significance of CEDAW in international human rights law, highlighting important features, such as its comprehensiveness and adaptability. Although CEDAW does not contain an explicit article on violence against women, the CEDAW Committee has recommended an interpretation of violence against women as falling under the convention. Before examining this recommendation in more depth, the author describes the main principles and key concepts of CEDAW.

The following sections discuss the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (DATE), looking particularly at its relationship to CEDAW; the UN Declaration on Violence against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1993; development at the regional level, with particular focus on the Istanbul Convention, adopted by the Council of Europe in 2011; and the jurisprudence of CEDAW, referring to specific cases on violence against women brought before the CEDAW Committee under the Optional Protocol. The final section describes the function of the CEDAW Committee’s concluding observations and related follow-up procedure (introduced in 2008), and provides a brief synopsis of the most important concerns raised by the Committee over the years regarding violence against women. This synopsis is divided into these topics: reservations, legislation and implementation, comprehensive approaches in preventing and combating violence against women, articles and stereotypes, provision of support measures for victims of domestic violence, and data and research. On this last topic, the author writes that, “the Committee has consistently called attention to the limited availability of data on various forms of violence against women and has called for data collection relevant for the prevalence of violence against women. 

Substantive Equality and Non-Discrimination in Bulgaria. Shadow Report Submitted to CEDAW Committee for the 52nd Session 2012. Gender Alternatives Foundation; 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract


pp 17-19

The Team of the Gender Alternatives Foundation (www.genderalternatives.org) works on pro-active research, education, legal and psycho-social counseling, campaigning and lobbying for legislative changes in the field of gender equality and women's rights. Violence against women and socio-economic rights of women make the main focus of its activities. Given the focus of its work and following its mission to achieve a balanced civil society in the Republic of Bulgaria, ensuring equal chances and equal representation of women and men and of different ethnic groups, in the public and private spheres, the Team prepared a Shadow report for the 52nd CEDAW Committee session in July 2012. The Team aims at using the report as a tool for holding the Government accountable for the implementation of the CEDAW as well as a tool for advancing women‟s human rights in the country.

The report covers six of the areas of concern outlined in the CEDAW Committee List of Issues and Questions1, namely: 1. Legal status of the Convention and legislative and institutional framework; 2. Traditional stereotypes; 3. Violence against women; 4. Education; 5. Health; 6. Disadvantaged groups of women. The report also provides a list of recommendations to be taken into account by the CEDAW Committee for the Concluding observations.


CEDAW. Case of Jallow v. Bulgaria. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract



In 2012, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered Jallow v. Bulgaria (C/52/D/32/2011). Isatou Jallow moved from the Gambia to Bulgaria after marrying A.P., a Bulgarian national. Once in Bulgaria, A.P. allegedly became abusive toward Jallow and subjected her to physical and psychological violence, including sexual abuse, and attempted to force her to take part in pornographic films and photographs. Even after social workers and police became involved, authorities took no measures to protect Jallow from further domestic violence and sexual abuse. In March 2009, prosecutors—without interviewing Jallow—refused to continue investigating the alleged domestic violence due to insufficient evidence. An order granting A.P. custody of the couple’s daughter was issued solely on the basis of A.P.’s statement and the Court did not consider Jallow’s allegations of domestic violence. In November 2010, Jallow submitted a communication to the Committee on behalf of her daughter and herself claiming that Bulgarian authorities failed to provide adequate protection against domestic violence and that the state’s actions relative to her situation amounted to gender-based discrimination.

The Committee concluded that Bulgaria had violated Articles 2(b)-2(f), 5(a), 16(1)(c), 16(1)(d) and 16(1)(f) of CEDAW, read in conjunction with Articles 1 and 3, when it failed to investigate allegations that A.P. had committed domestic violence against Jallow and her daughter. In the Committee’s view, these actions, together with the State’s failure to inform Jallow properly about her daughter’s whereabouts and her condition, violated Articles 2(b) and 2(c). The Committee determined that Bulgaria had also failed to protect Jallow’s rights to equality within marriage and as a parent, and to treat her daughter’s interests as paramount, in violation of Articles 5(a), 16(1)(c), 16(1)(d) and 16(1)(f). The Committee explained that Bulgaria’s actions were based on stereotypes concerning the roles of women and men within marriage, according to which men are perceived to be superior to women. The authorities’ reliance on these stereotypes caused them to act on the statements and actions of A.P. and to disregard Jallow’s allegations of violence. It also meant that they ignored Jallow’s vulnerable position and disregarded evidence concerning the disproportionate impact of domestic violence on women. The Committee urged Bulgaria to compensate Jallow and her daughter for violating their rights under CEDAW.It also recommended that the State Party adopt measures to ensure that women victims/survivors of domestic violence, including migrant women, have effective access to justice and other services (e.g., translation services). It also called on Bulgaria to provide regular training on CEDAW and the Optional Protocol and to adopt legislative and other measures to ensure that domestic violence is taken into account in the determination of custody and visitation rights of children.

CEDAW. Case of J.S. v. the U.K. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract



In 2012, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered J.S. v. the U.K. (C/53/D/38/2012 ). J.S. (“the author”) claims that he is a victim of discrimination of a continuous nature, because the revision of the 1948 British Nationality Act in 1981 and 2002 did not eliminate the discrimination against women. He claims that if he had been born of a father with United Kingdom and Colonies’ citizenship, or after 1983, he could have applied for a British passport.

The author claims that the Convention recognizes women’s autonomy and equality in the transfer and acquisition of nationality, and permits either spouse to confer nationality on their children. On the issue of nationality, the granting of equal rights to women requires having an independent nationality, regardless of the nationality of one’s husband, and granting equal rights regarding the nationality of children. States parties are also expected to uphold equal rights with regard to laws relating to the movement of persons and the freedom to choose one’s residence and domicile. They must also take measures to eliminate discrimination against women in matters relating to marriage and family relations, and ensure that overall equality between men and women exists. Any State which does not respect these provisions in practice and law fails in its duties under articles 1 and 2 of the Convention.

The author claims to be a victim of a violation of article 9 of the Convention. In substantiation, he refers to the Committee’s general recommendation No. 21 (1994) on equality in marriage and family relations (which emphasizes the importance of granting equal rights to women concerning acquisition and retention of citizenship. The author notes in particular that paragraph 6 of general recommendation No. 21 reads as follow: “Nationality is critical to full participation in society [...]. Without status as nationals or citizens, women are deprived of the right to vote or to stand for public office and may be denied access to public benefits and a choice of residence. Nationality should be capable of change by an adult woman and should not be arbitrarily removed because of marriage or dissolution of marriage or because her husband or father changes his nationality.”