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Signatories and States parties

After being adopted by the UN General Assembly on 6 October 1999, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (OP-CEDAW) entered into force on the 22 December 2000.

What is the significance of signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to CEDAW (OP-CEDAW)?
Governments which ratify the OP-CEDAW recognise the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to:

  1. Consider petitions from individual women or groups of women who have exhausted all national remedies through a communications procedure;

  2. Conduct inquiries into grave or systematic violations of the CEDAW Convention through an inquiry procedure.
The OP-CEDAW is significant for a number of reasons. Its two procedures reaffirm existing remedies available under other international human rights instruments, such as the first Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The OP-CEDAW also advances the development of international human rights law, and incorporates practice developed by international monitoring mechanisms over the last 30 years. It recognises that women continue to face specific challenges in seeking redress for their grievances under general human rights mechanisms.

The adoption of an Optional Protocol to provide a right to petition was one of the commitments made by States at both the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women. Its entry into force represents a major step towards the realisation of the objectives set out in the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing PFA).

Click here for a list of Signatories and/or States parties to the OP-CEDAW.

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