Benefits of OP CEDAW Ratification/Accession

The pros and cons of having an Optional Protocol to the CEDAW Convention (OP-CEDAW) were expounded during the sessions of the open-ended working group of the Commission on the Status of Women, which met over a three-year period during the drafting of the current Optional Protocol.

The Working Group considered the views of governments, inter-government and non-government organisations on the potential benefits and existing concerns surrounding the evolution of a complaints mechanism to the CEDAW Convention.The resulting optional protocol represents the exchange of views and attempts to take into consideration the concerns of all those involved in the drafting process. It is also important to mention that member states of the UN collectively adopted a resolution on the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and in so doing expressed their political will to promote this instrument.

When considering the benefits of the ratification of a human rights treaty, it is important to consider the impact of the CEDAW Convention at the national level. The domestic implementation of the CEDAW Convention has led to many positive changes in laws, policies and procedures. These changes, instigated by governments and civil society alike have led to an increased awareness, at all levels of society, of the need to promote and protect the human rights of women.

The benefits of the OP-CEDAW have been explored and expanded by many articles, forums and organisations both prior to and since this treaty came into existence. A wealth of information has been produced regarding the need for and the benefits of optional protocols to international conventions in general and the CEDAW Convention in particular.

Some of the most important gains of the OP-CEDAW are those that will contribute to the domestic implementation of the CEDAW Convention: Specifically, the OP-CEDAW will:

- Improve the understanding of the CEDAW Convention at the national level and contribute to the further development of anti-discrimination law.

- Stimulate States to take further steps to implement the full range of legal rights contained in the CEDAW Convention and trigger changes in discriminatory laws and practices that limit women's access to justice.

- Create greater public awareness of human rights standards relating to discrimination against women.

Source: Some of the arguments presented here in favor of the OP-CEDAW were presented in a paper prepared by Donna Sullivan and submitted by the Center for Women´s Global Leadership during the Commission in the Status of Women's 1997 session. Other points were taken from "Understanding the Optional Protocol to the Women's Convention: A Guide to Adoption" by Laboni Amena Hoq (IWRAW Asia Pacific, 1999). Another source is The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women: Handbook for Parliamentarians, (UN, 2003).