The Inquiry Procedure is a mechanism set-up under the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW Convention (OP-CEDAW), through which the CEDAW Committee can issue comments and recommendations on grave or systematic violations of rights contained in the CEDAW Convention. Alternatively, the CEDAW Committee may decide to initiate an inquiry that addresses grave and systematic violations resulting from acts or omission by the States party concerned. The Inquiry Procedure is a mechanism that enables the CEDAW Committee to initiate and conduct investigations on large-scale or/and widespread violations of women's rights occurring within the jurisdiction of a States party.
- Grave violations would constitute severe abuses, for example, discrimination against women linked to violations of their rights to life, physical and mental integrity, and security of person. A single violation can be grave in nature and a single act can violate more than one right. The CEDAW Committee may determine that an inquiry into a single grave violation is appropriate on the basis of the facts in a particular situation (e.g. two hundred single mothers and their children being forcibly evicted from a public housing building).
- The term 'systematic' refers to the scale or prevalence of violations, or to existence of scheme or policy directing violations. Therefore violations not rising to the level of severity implied by 'grave' may still be the focus of inquiry if there is pattern, or abuses are committed pursuant to a scheme or policy. Violations may be systematic in character without resulting from the direct intention of the States party (e.g. a government policy promoting population control in rural areas may have resulted in the sterilisation of a large group of indigenous women without due consent or information).The Inquiry Procedure will permit the CEDAW Committee to respond in a more timely way to serious violations that are in progress under the jurisdiction of a States party (e.g. the mass rape of women during riots or the disappearance and assassination of women's rights defenders.) It offers a means of addressing situations in which individual communications do not adequately reflect the systematic nature of widespread violations of women's rights or individuals or groups that are unable to submit communications due to practical constraints or fear of reprisals.
In accordance to Article 10 of the OP-CEDAW, States may "opt-out" of the Inquiry Procedure at the time of signature, accession or ratification.
The Inquiry Procedure is set forth in
Articles 8 and 9 of the OP-CEDAW. The proceedings under the Inquiry
Procedure of the OP-CEDAW can be found in Section XVII of the
Rules or Procedure (Rules 76 to 91).
The Inquiry Procedure:
- Enables the CEDAW Committee to address systematic and widespread violations;
- Allows the CEDAW Committee to recommend measures to combat the structural causes of discrimination against women; and
- Provides the CEDAW Committee with an opportunity to set out a broad range of recommendations to achieve equality between women and men.
Click here for the Practical Applicationof the CEDAW Convention and the OP-CEDAW.
Source: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol. Handbook for Parliamentarians. (UN, 2003) and Optional Protocol: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, 2000)