Provisions for Applying the CEDAW Convention
A thorough analysis of the violation(s) in light of the principles of the CEDAW Convention and the particular circumstances of the alleged victim(s) ought to form the starting point for the composition of any communication or inquiry to be submitted to the CEDAW Committee. This groundwork is of the utmost importance, not only to ensure that the communication is adequately completed, but that the situation of the woman or women concerned are set out in the information before the CEDAW Committee.
In accordance with the spirit of the CEDAW Convention, discrimination against women must be addressed comprehensively. Views or recommendations of the CEDAW Committee based on a thorough understanding of the lead-up to, as well as occurrence and impact of the violation, will be the most adequate in addressing the violation in its entirety. Thus, making it possible for the CEDAW Committee to make appropriate suggestions to address the situation of the victim(s) and improve the status of women in general.
Information on violation(s) of rights enshrined in the CEDAW Convention should be identified at the outset:
- That one or more rights enshrined in the CEDAW Convention have been violated
- How the alleged violations are linked to Article 1 of the CEDAW Convention
- Who has committed the violation
- What action or inaction resulted in a violation
- Why should the State be held responsible for the violation
- How the violation has impacted on other rights enshrined in the convention; and
- Initial recommendations for addressing the violation.
Having established the foundations of the violation, the articles of the CEDAW Convention relevant to the violation should be analysed. Since the articles of the convention are interrelated, most can broadly be thematically allocated.
For example, when carefully analysing a case of women in a factory who are pressured into sterilisation by their employer, one might find the violations can potentially be linked to:
- Article 11 refers to employment;
- Article 12 to health; As well as
- Article 10(h) on access to information;
- Article 4(2) on adoption of measures aimed at protecting maternity;
- Article 5 on modification of social and cultural patterns of conduct and gender roles; or
- Article 15 equal protection.
The analysis of violations should not be limited to the rights set out in articles of the CEDAW Convention. The CEDAW Convention's interpretation has been evolving and thus, the rights enshrined in this treaty are more expansive than those included in its text. For this reason, it is important to consider the provisions of the convention and the jurisprudence of the CEDAW Committee. By jurisprudence of the CEDAW Committee, we refer to (a) General Recommendations and (b) Concluding Comments aimed at improving the situation of women within individual States Parties. It is also important to note that once the Committee adopts views and recommendations on individual communications and inquiries, it will be useful to refer to these.
1) General Recommendations
The General Recommendations of the CEDAW Committee should be applied, acknowledging their value in outlining the normative content and scope of the rights set out in the CEDAW Convention. Further, a thorough read of the convention and the General Recommendations reveal that the articles of this treaty often complement each other and are mutually-dependant, mirroring the way in which the Convention addresses the causes and effects of discrimination.
Some General Recommendations (GR) likely to be useful to advocates are GR 19 (gender-based violence against women) and GR 24 (women's health (article 12). However, it is recommended to consider all general recommendations when preparing information on communications and inquiries.
2) Concluding Comments
Concluding Comments highlight accomplishments, shortcomings and obstacles that a reporting States party has faced in its implementation of the CEDAW Convention. They also identify areas of concern and suggest recommendations for further action. A States party is urged to respond to the issues raised in the Concluding Comments in its following periodic report to the CEDAW Committee. As such, Concluding Comments addressed at the State Party concerned are particularly important and can serve as the focus of a communication or inquiry.