Following the death of the Count of Bulnes, Cristina Muñoz-Vargas y Sainz de Vicuña (CMV), the Count’s first-born child, instituted legal proceedings in Spain challenging the succession of her younger brother to the title of nobility. Under the Decree on the Order of Succession to Titles of Nobility, which was then in effect in Spain, a woman was entitled to inherit a title of nobility only if she was the first-born child and did not have a younger brother. Male children were given primacy over female children in the ordinary line of succession in all other situations.
CMV claimed that male primacy in the order of succession to titles of nobility was discriminatory and, therefore, unconstitutional. Domestic courts dismissed her claim on the ground that the primacy afforded to male children was compatible with the constitutional rights to non-discrimination and equality, owing to the honorary and historic nature of titles and because the brother’s succession to the title of Count of Bulnes occurred prior to the commencement of the Spanish Constitution.
The author subsequently submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Committee) in which she claimed that male primacy in the order of succession to titles of nobility constituted discrimination on the basis of sex, in violation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in general, and articles 2(c) and 2(f) in particular. She further claimed that Spain was required by CEDAW to amend or revise its laws establishing male primacy in the order of succession to titles of nobility.