United Nations Secretary-General's Campaign: Unite to End Violence Against Women. UN; 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The document can be found by clicking "Fact Sheets." 

Violence against women takes many forms – physical, sexual, psychological and economic. These forms of violence are interrelated and affect women from before birth to old age. Some types of violence, such as trafficking, cross national boundaries. Women who experience violence suffer a range of health problems and their ability to participate in public life is diminished. Violence against women harms families and communities across generations and reinforces other violence prevalent in society. 

Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Explanatory Report). Council of Europe. 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

I. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe took note of this Explanatory Report at its 1002nd meeting held at its Deputies' level, on 12 July 2007. The Convention was opened for signature in Lanzarote (Spain), on 25 October 2007, on the occasion of the 28th Conference of European Ministers of Justice.

II. The text of this explanatory report does not constitute an instrument providing an authoritative interpretation of the Convention, although it might be of such a nature as to facilitate the application of the provisions contained therein.

The Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence. Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs: Gender Equality and Anti-Trafficking Division; 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Violence against women, including domestic violence, is one of the most serious forms of gender-based violations of human rights. It deprives women of their ability to enjoy fundamental freedoms and represents a serious obstacle to equality between women and men. 

Despite positive and significant achievements in policies and practices, violence against women in its various forms is still widespread at all levels of society in all Council of Europe member states.

An overview of figures for prevalence of violence against women suggests that one-fifth to one-quarter of all women have experienced physical violence at least once during their adult lives, and more than one-tenth have suffered sexual violence involving the use of force. Secondary data analysis supports an estimate that about 12% to 15% of all women have been in a relationship of domestic abuse after the age of 16. Many more continue to suffer physical and sexual violence from former partners even after the break-up.

Priority Issues: Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence: Femicide. Organization of American States; 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Can be located by downloading zip file of the 34th assembly, document "AoD34-Doc13.08[EN].pdf"

Until 1992, the term femicide was used in the press and society to refer colloquially to the killing of women. In that year, Diana Russell and Jill Radford imbued the concept with legal and social content in their text Femicide: The Politics of Women Killing, defining it as the murder of women, by men, because they were women. They developed the term to refer to the gender-based motives behind the deaths of women at the hands of men: attempts to control their lives, bodies, and/or sexuality, to the point of punishing with death those who did not accept such subjection.

Subsequently, Marcela Lagarde took Russell and Radford’s notion of femicide and developed it as feminicide, rather than femicide, which would become the literal translation. For Lagarde, while femicide means the killing of women without specifying the causes of such deaths, the term feminicide lends itself better to covering the gender-based reasons and social construct underlying such deaths, as well as the impunity surrounding them. Lagarde uses the term feminicide in analyzing the murders of women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

However, at the international level, the terms feminicide and femicide are being used indistinctly to refer to the same problem, although in the case of the Caribbean, no such disagreement exists and only the term femicide is used.

Moreover, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted the term feminicide in 2007, in the case of Bolivia, based on discussion in the “In-depth study on all forms of violence against women” of the United Nations Secretary-General, who also refers to this problem as feminicidio [in Spanish, but the English version uses only femicide – tr.].4/ Prior to that, the IACHR referred to this problem as murder of women, and expressed its concern by convening a thematic hearing on this problem (2006). The IACHR has admitted four cases on murders of women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. 

Final Activity Report: Task Force to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence (EG-TFV). Council of Europe. 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Council of Europe Task Force to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence (EG-TFV), was set up following a decision taken at the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe held in Warsaw on 16 and 17 May 2005. The Action Plan adopted at the Summit defines future action by the Council of Europe and envisages activities to combat vio- lence against women, including domestic violence. Section II.4 of the Plan states:

“The Council of Europe will take meas- ures to combat violence against women, including domestic violence. It will set up a task force to evaluate progress at national level and establish instruments for quantifying develop- ments at pan-European level with a view to drawing up proposals for action. A pan-European campaign to combat violence against women, in- cluding domestic violence, will be pre- pared and conducted in close co- operation with other European and na- tional actors, including NGOs.”

Accordingly, eight international experts in the field of preventing and combating violence against women were appointed to the Task Force by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The Steering Committee

for Equality between Women and Men (CDEG) proposed six members of the Task Force, while the Parlia- mentary Assembly and the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities of the Council of Europe proposed one member each. The appointments were made in consultation with the Committee of Ministers' Thematic Co-ordinator on Equality between Women and Men (TC-EG) and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. 

Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. United Nations. 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR, or the Optional Protocol) is the instrument that will make this possible, once it becomes operational. THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL provides groups and individuals the opportunity to bring cases (submit communications) to the Committee on ESCR - the body in charge of monitoring the Covenant compliance by state parties - for violation of their economic, social and cultural rights, when access to justice is denied or not available in their own countries.  

Security Council Resolution 1820 (2008) - Women & Sexual Violence. United Nations Security Council. 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

S/RES/1820 (2008)

The Security Council Resolution recognizes a direct relationship between the widespread and/or systematic use of sexual violence as an instrument of conflict and the maintenance of international peace and security; commit the Security Council to considering appropriate steps to end such atrocities and to punish their perpetrators; and request a report from the Secretary General on situations in which sexual violence is being widely or systematically employed against civilians and on strategies for ending the practice.

Good practices in legislation on violence against women: Expert group meeting organized by United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women & United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women; 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Click on "Final report of the Expert Group Meeting" at the given link to access PDF

The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDAW/DESA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are convening an expert group meeting on good practices and lessons learned in regard to legislation on violence against women, to be held at the United Nations at Vienna, from 26 to 28 May 2008.

Flood M. Measures for the Assessment of Dimensions of Violence against Women: A Compendium.; 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

"Measures for the assessment of dimensions of violence against women: A compendium" - 9th bullet point

This is a compendium of measures for the assessment of dimensions of violence against women. It also includes measures regarding gender and sexual norms and attitudes. However, it does not cover measures related to child abuse, child sexual abuse, or sexual harassment.

Bloom SS. Violence Against Women and Girls: A Compendium of Monitoring and Evaluation Indicators. U.S. Agency for International Development; 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

At the request of the USAID East Africa Regional Mission in collaboration with the Inter-agency Gender Working Group (USAID), MEASURE Evaluation developed this compendium with a technical advisory group (TAG) of experts. Initially, a steering committee of experts met over a period of several months to select TAG members, develop a framework for the compendium and generate an initial list of indicators for wider input from the TAG. An extensive literature review was conducted to document any indicators that were already being used. The TAG included individuals from USAID, OGAC, CDC, United Nations organizations including WHO, UNFPA and UNHCR, NGOs, prominent researchers and programmatic experts in the field. Indicators were developed to measure the following areas within VAW/G: 1. Magnitude and characteristics of different forms of VAW/G (skewed sex rations, intimate partner violence, violence from someone other than an intimate partner, female genital cutting/mutilation and child marriage); 2. Programs addressing VAW/G by sector (health, education, justice/security, social welfare); 3. Under-documented forms of VAW/G and emerging areas (humanitarian emergencies, trafficking in persons, femicide), and preventing VAW/G (youth, community mobilization, working with men and boys). The indicators can also be used by programs that may not specifically focus on VAW/G, but include reducing levels of VAW/G as part of their aims. 

CEDAW. Case of Zheng v. The Netherlands. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Zhen Zhen Zheng (ZZZ), a Chinese national, was trafficked to the Netherlands for the purposes prostitution.  In April 2003, after escaping and after being put out on the street by a woman who took her in and forced her to do heavy housework, ZZZ applied for asylum in the Netherlands.   ZZZ was pregnant at the time of her asylum application.    

In May 2003, Dutch authorities dismissed ZZZ’s asylum claim because ‘she could not give details about her trip from China to the Netherlands, did not have identity documents and waited for eight months before applying for asylum.’  Subsequent appeals proved unsuccessful.

In January 2007, ZZZ submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) in which she claimed that the Netherlands had violated her rights in article 6 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). 

CEDAW. CEDAW General Comments on General Recommendations. 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This document contains a compilation of the general comments or general recommendations adopted, respectively, by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee against Torture and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee on Migrant Workers has not yet adopted any general comments.

CEDAW. CEDAW General Recommendation No. 26 - 2008 - On Women Migrant Workers. C/2009/WP.1/R . 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

At its thirtieth session held on 12-30 January 2004, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women decided to begin elaboration of a new general recommendation (No. 26), on article 2 of the Convention.

As decided by the Committee at its seventeenth session in July 1997 (A/52/38/Rev.1), the Committee follows a three-stage process for the formulation of general recommendations. In the first stage, a general discussion and exchange of views on the subject of the general recommendation is held by the Committee, with the participation of entities of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and other organizations. In the second stage, a Committee member is asked to draft the general recommendation to be discussed at the next session of the Committee. In the third stage, a revised draft is submitted to the Committee at a subsequent session for consideration and adoption by the Committee as a whole.

With regard to general recommendation No. 26, the first stage of elaboration will begin on 21 July 2004 during the Committee's thirty-first session, scheduled to take place from 6 to 23 July 2004, at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

United Nations entities and non-governmental organizations wishing to participate in the general discussion and/or to submit background papers for consideration by the Committee, are kindly invited to contact the Secretariat by no later than 1 May 2004.

Byrnes A, Bath E. Violence against Women, the Obligation of Due Diligence, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Recent Developments. Human Rights Law Review . 2008;8 (3) :517-533. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*This full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW-OP)1 was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1999, 20 years after the adoption of the Convention itself. It con- tains both an individual complaints procedure and an inquiry procedure. As of 15 February 2008, 90 of the States Parties to the Convention were also par- ties to the CEDAW-OP, all of which were subject to the individual complaints procedure and 87 of which were subject to the inquiry procedure. As of the end of 2007, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the Committee) had made public decisions in 10 individual communi- cations submitted under the CEDAW-OP,2 as well as completing one inquiry under Article 8 (in which it found systematic violations of the Convention in Mexico).3 Of the 10 individual complaints, the Committee rejected five on admissibility grounds; of the five cases which it considered on the merits, it found violations in four. Three of those involved a failure by the State Party concerned to provide effective legal and/or practical protection against family violence which posed a serious threat to the life and physical and mental integ- rity of the women concerned (two of whom had been killed by their former partners),4 while one related to a sterilisation carried out on a woman without her informed consent.5 The one case considered on the merits which was unsuccessful involved a challenge to the complex provisions of Netherlands law relating to maternity leave as they applied to the case of a woman who was working both as a salaried employee and as a co-working spouse in her husband’s business at the same time.6

This review considers three of the cases decided by the Committee on the merits against the background of the Committee’s practice and jurisprudence under the CEDAW-OP to date. These are two cases involving the liability of the State for failure to protect a woman against violence by a partner which eventually resulted in the woman’s death, and one case involving a sterilisation operation in a state hospital in which it was claimed that there had been a fail- ure to ensure that the woman’s informed consent had been obtained before a sterilisation operation had been carried out.

Human Rights Treaty Bodies - General Comments. UN Secretariat. 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This document contains a compilation of the general comments or general recommendations adopted, respectively, by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee against Torture and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee on Migrant Workers has not yet adopted any general comments.

Goetz AM, et al. Progress of the World's Women 2008/2009: Who Answers to Women?. United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women; 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Progress of the World's Women 2008/2009: Who Answers to Women? demonstrates that one of the most powerful constraints on realizing women's rights and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a deficit of accountability to women. It, therefore, puts forth a framework to understanding accountability form a gender perspective and outlines innovative measures states and international institutions are taking to increase accountability. It focuses particularly on five areas where the need to strengthen accountability to women is urgent: politics and governance, access to public services, economic opportunities, justice, and the distribution of international assistance for development and security. 

Banda DF. Project on a Mechanism to Address Laws That Discriminate Against Women. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The aim of the project was to examine the advisability of creating a new mechanism to address laws that discriminate against women. The terms of reference specified two key objectives. The first was to overview existing UN mechanisms to ascertain the extent to which they addressed the issue of discriminatory laws. This involved interviewing UN human rights and agency officials working in both Geneva and New York and also reviewing the reports and jurisprudence of human rights committees and special procedure mechanisms. The second was to try to get national data on laws that discriminate against women. This was to be done by means of a questionnaire. On the basis of the data gathered, the consultant was required to advise on whether a special mechanism addressing discriminatory laws was needed.

Acceso a la justicia para las mujeres victimas de violencia en las Americas. Washington D.C: Organización de los Estados Americanos - Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos; 2007 pp. 154. Publisher's VersionAbstract

La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (en adelante "CIDH" o "Comisión") ha manifestado reiteradamente que un acceso de jure y de facto a recursos judiciales idóneos y efectivos resulta indispensable para la erradicación del problema de la violencia contra las mujeres, así como también lo es el cumplimiento de los Estados de su obligación de actuar con la debida diligencia frente a tales actos. Sin embargo, la labor de la CIDH y de la Relatoría sobre los Derechos de las Mujeres (en adelante la “Relatoría” o “Relatoría sobre derechos de las mujeres”), revela que a menudo las mujeres víctimas de violencia no logran un acceso expedito, oportuno y efectivo a recursos judiciales cuando denuncian los hechos sufridos. Por este motivo, la gran mayoría de estos incidentes permanecen en la impunidad y en consecuencia sus derechos quedan desprotegidos.

2. Por esta razón, la CIDH ha elaborado este informe sobre la situación de las mujeres víctimas de violencia, en el que presenta un diagnóstico sobre los principales obstáculos que las mujeres enfrentan cuando procuran acceder a una tutela judicial efectiva para remediar actos de violencia. En el informe, la CIDH formula conclusiones y recomendaciones para que los Estados actúen con la debida diligencia con el objeto de ofrecer una respuesta judicial efectiva y oportuna ante estos incidentes. El análisis de este informe incluye los resultados de un proceso de recopilación de información de una diversidad de sectores que incluyen la administración de la justicia, funcionarios y representantes del gobierno, la sociedad civil, el sector académico y mujeres de diferentes razas, etnias y condiciones socioeconómicas, llevado a cabo por la Relatoría durante los últimos dos años, con el apoyo financiero del gobierno de Finlandia. La información recopilada ha sido complementada con la labor de la CIDH, que incluye jurisprudencia, audiencias temáticas celebradas en la sede, informes temáticos, capítulos de país sobre mujeres, y visitas in loco organizadas tanto por la CIDH como por la Relatoría. 

Access to Justice for Women Victims of Violence in the Americas: Efforts to Comply With the Due Diligence Obligation in Response to Acts of Violence Against Women. Organization of American States. 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Rapporteurship received information on the efforts made within the administration of justice system to improve the prosecution of cases involving violence against women and the treatment of victims when they turn to judicial institutions of protection.  Salient here is the preparation of national diagnostic studies examining how the domestic administration of justice systems deal with cases of violence against women, creation of special courts and units within the public prosecutor’s office and the police to deal specifically with gender issues and equipped with special expertise, creation of training programs for those in the justice system and the police, and programs to provide advocate services to victims who have turned to the judicial system.  A number of court rulings have been delivered underscoring the necessity of protecting the rights of women victims of violence, and the appointment of a number of women to the benches of the Supreme Courts in the region.

With international cooperation, research, studies and analyses have been conducted in a number of countries on how the justice systems and other state institutions respond to and treat cases involving violence and discrimination of women, the purpose being to discover ways to improve the judicial response.  In Bolivia, for example, the Constitutional Tribunal ordered a study, which was conducted with support from the Spanish Government, to identify the kinds of discrimination that women suffer in the administration of justice system.

Nowak M. The Need for a World Court of Human Rights. Human Rights Law Review. 2007;7 (1) :251-259. Publisher's VersionAbstract

*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

The very notion of human rights implies that rights-holders must have some possibility to hold duty bearers accountable for not living up to their legally binding human rights obligations. This basic insight has found legal expression in the right to an effective remedy against violations of human rights, as laid down in Article 2(3) of the CCPR. This right to an effective remedy and reparation has been further developed by the so-called van Boven/Bassiouni Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation, which were adopted by the General Assembly on 16 December 2005. By far the most effective method to implement the right to an effective remedy on the international level is to allow direct access of the rights holders to a fully independent international human rights court with the power to render binding judgments and to grant adequate reparation to the victims of human rights violations.

The establishment of the Human Rights Council seems to be the right moment to start seriously thinking about the creation of a World Court of Human Rights as its independent counter-part!