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.
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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.
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.
2008 - Addendum - Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo
Sexual violence has been a defining feature of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s recent armed conflicts. Women, in areas of armed conflict, still suffer sexual violence committed by the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC), the Police nationale congolaise (PNC), armed groups and, increasingly, civilians. The situation is particularly dramatic in South Kivu, where non-State armed groups, including foreign militia, commit sexual atrocities that aim at the complete physical and psychological destruction of women with implications for the entire society. Given the multitude of actors involved in the conflict and the continuation of these crimes, the international community, in cooperation with the Congolese authorities, has a responsibility to take all necessary measures to ensure that women in South Kivu are protected. Sexual violence extends beyond eastern Congo. In Equateur Province, PNC and FARDC have carried out systematic reprisals against the civilian population, including mass rape. Soldiers and police who commit these acts amounting to crimes against humanity are rarely held accountable by the commanding officers. Some of the perpetrators have been given commanding positions in the State security forces, which further aggravates the situation. Impunity for rape is massive. Due to political interference and corruption, perpetrators, especially those who belong to the State security forces, go unpunished. The limited support made available to the overburdened justice system raises questions as to whether there is political will to end impunity.
The purpose of this alternative report is to address specific violence against women and children, including torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, its causes and consequences.
The report draws attention to consistent violations involving torture and ill-treatment inflicted on women and children by both State officials and non-State actors. It also addresses to what extent the Kenyan Government fails to protect women and children from torture. In this respect, the present report provides the UN Committee against Torture (the Committee) with a legal and practical overview of women’s and children’s rights in Kenya in the context of the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Convention).
This report is based on the international legal obligations of Kenya under the Convention. In particular, it refers to the positive obligation to “take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction” and “to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
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.
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.
In 2007, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) declared in a landmark admissibility decision that it had competence to examine the human rights claims of Jessica Gonzales, a domestic violence survivor from Colorado whose three children were killed when local police failed to enforce a restraining order against her estranged husband. Jessica Gonzales v. United States marks the first time the Commission has been asked to consider the nature and extent of the U.S.'s affirmative obligations to protect individuals from private acts of violence under the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (American Declaration or Declaration). The Commission's admissibility decision rejects the U.S. State Department's position that the Declaration, which does not explicitly articulate state obligations vis a vis the rights contained therein, does not create positive governmental obligations. Instead, the decision holds the U.S. to well-established international standards on state responsibility to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, and punish human rights violations and protect and compensate victims.
The Commission will next decide, in the merits phase of the case, whether the U.S. violated the human rights of Jessica Gonzales and her children. The merits decision, anticipated in 2008, will have profound consequences for Ms. Gonzales on a personal level. It also has the potential to expand international human rights norms and spur systemic reforms in law and policy in the U.S.
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.