CEDAW Reporting and Review Process

Under Article 18 of the CEDAW Convention, a State party is obligated to present a report to the CEDAW Committee one year after ratification and every four years thereafter on the legislative, administrative and other measures that they have to take to implement their obligations under this treaty.

Each States party is invited to send a delegation to engage in a constructive dialogue with the CEDAW Committee on the report that it has submitted.

Two sessions before the review, the Committee will hold a pre session working group discussion that draws up a list of issues and questions which the state has to address in writing before the review.

At the review, one CEDAW Committee member is appointed as the rapporteur for the country. She briefs the Committee on the issues pertaining to the country, leads the review and drafts the Concluding Observations.

The following flowchart illustrates the different stages involved in the CEDAW Reporting/Review process. They include both official (state-related) and non-official (NGO) processes.

Why the State Reports

·         It is a monitoring mechanism emphasising the State's accountability for ensuring that its citizens enjoy guaranteed rights and that it is responsible for violations of those rights.

·         It emphasises the importance of thorough investigation of overt and covert violations.

·         It provides a process and forum where governments are required to answer to their responsibilities and where different ways can be used to ensure that they do this

·         It provides a forum whereby groups within countries can monitor the progress of their governments and question this progress, as often opportunities to do so are not readily available through local processes.

Initial Reports

A State party submits its initial report one year after the CEDAW Convention's entry into force where that States party is concerned. The report is considered during a CEDAW session, wherein a delegation of the reporting State makes an oral presentation on its report and answers questions of the experts. The CEDAW experts engage in a constructive dialogue with the States party, giving their own views on the issues presented in the report.

The review of an Initial Report is a two-day process. On the first day, the CEDAW Committee raises many questions. The government is then given a few days to prepare their replies before returning for a second round of the review. Thereafter the CEDAW Committee drafts and adopts Concluding Observations on this report.

Periodic Reports

Subsequent reports of a State party that has already presented its Initial Report are called periodic reports. These are submitted every four years thereafter.

At this stage a set of questions is prepared by a smaller group of experts called the pre-sessional working group. They will meet at the session prior to the actual session in which the State party will be reviewed, in order to elicit clarifications or to ask for more information if the report is not comprehensive enough.

Requests for clarifications and more information are then sent to the government and they have to submit written replies. The oral review takes only one day at which time the written replies are considered.

Reports Submitted on an Exceptional Basis

Aside from initial and periodic reports, the CEDAW Committee might also request a State party to submit a report on an exceptional basis, called such because it usually deviates from the regular schedule and format of reports. Usually, countries whose governments are asked to give such reports are often in the midst of internal political or armed strife which raises concern within CEDAW on the effect or impact of the situation on the women in the said country.

The reports submitted on an exceptional basis to the CEDAW Committee to date have been:

Democratic Republic of Congo [Zaire] 16th/17th Session (1997) (Read)
Rwanda 15th Session (1996) (Read)
Croatia 14th Session (1995) (Read)
Bosnia and Herzergovina 13th Session (1994) (Read)
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia [Serbia and Montenegro] 13th Session (1994) (Read)

Suggestions and recommendations of the CEDAW Committee in these reports could be used as guidelines to monitor the situation of women who experience violence in the context of peace-building.

Shadow Reports

Alternative or shadow reports are an avenue through which NGOs can intervene in the reporting process. Shadow Reports from NGOs provide additional information to the CEDAW Committee on the implementation of the CEDAW Convention in their country. The CEDAW Committee can use information in this report to develop questions for the State party during their constructive dialogue.

To find out more about how NGOs can use the CEDAW Convention, including submitting Shadow Reports, please refer to this section. IWRAW Asia Pacific runs the Global to Local programme, which facilitates the participation of women activists at the review of their respective government’s report by the CEDAW Committee. National NGOs are welcome to take part.

Concluding Observations

Following the dialogue with the State party, the CEDAW Committee adopts its Concluding Observations, which identify positive aspects, factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the CEDAW Convention, principal areas of concern and recommendations. These Concluding Comments should be distributed widely by the States party in its country.

The Concluding Comments are a useful source of information in discerning how CEDAW understands obligations under a particular article, and what the State should do to implement the CEDAW Convention.

The Committee now uses a new follow-up procedure. In the Concluding Observations, they will identify two priority issues which the states are directed to report on within two years of issuance of the Concluding Observations as a way of monitoring implementation of its recommendations.

Follow-up Procedure (Post-CEDAW Review)

This is a new procedure established by the CEDAW Committee. At its forty-first CEDAW session, the Committee decided to introduce a follow-up procedure whereby it would include a request to individual States parties in the concluding observations on their reports for information on steps taken to implement specific recommendations contained in those concluding observations. The request would call on States parties to provide such information to the Committee within two years. The Committee decided to assess its follow-up procedure in 2011. 

Therefore, Concluding Observations since 2009 will identify two priority issues that the Committee requires states to provide a status report of how they are implementing the recommendations of the Committee.

How the procedure will work:
The Committee has adopted a methodology to assess the reports of States parties received under its follow-up procedure but have not made this procedure public.

The Committee has appointed a rapporteur on follow-up to concluding observations and an alternate: they are Dubravka Simonovic and Barbara Bailey, respectively.

The follow-up rapporteur should report to the Committee at each session on progress with followup and will adopt the report of the follow-up rapporteur.

Follow up reports per session
These reports are available from OHCHR

What you can do on the issue of follow-up
We recommend that before you leave Geneva or New York, you provide the Committee TWO issues that you would like the Committee to consider in their follow-up procedure in relation to your government’s implementation of CEDAW.

The two issues that you want to identify for the Committee’s consideration, should be those which requires specific and time bound action on part of the government and its agencies. It may be in form of enacting a legislation/law, drafting of a policy, review of an existing programme or administrative order, etc.

We recommend you to consult your coalition members back home and/or other national groups attending the Session before identifying two critical issues for Follow-up Procedure.

NGOs can submit alternative information to the CEDAW Committee on the progress of the State on these critical issues. As at March 2009, the Committee is still developing the follow up procedure. Please check on the OHCHR website for Committee’s work on Follow-up Procedures in past.