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Occasional Papers Series

The IWRAW Asia Pacific Occasional Papers Series makes available emerging discussions and debates related to the organisations areas of work.

  • No 14: Equity or Equality for Women? Understanding CEDAW’s Equality Principles (Published 2009)

    This essay argues that CEDAW’s concept of equality is what is needed to end discrimination against women. It first traces the background of the controversy over the use of the terms equity and equality in international human rights law. It then describes the CEDAW Committee’s recent attempts to emphasize the distinction between “equality” and “equity” and its continuing efforts to clarify the meaning of CEDAW’s broad concept of gender equality.
  • No 13 The OPCEDAW As A Mechanism For Implementing Women’s Human Rights: An analysis of cases No 6- 10 under the communications procedure of the OP-CEDAW (Published 2009)

    This paper analyses decisions 6 to 10 of the CEDAW Committee under the Communications procedure of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW. Similar to the OPS 12, the objective of this paper is to extract lessons from these five cases in order to promote a better use of this mechanism by the women’s movement and to enhance the use of the OP CEDAW as a mechanism for women to claim their rights under the treaty and to study the jurisprudence of the CEDAW Committee.

  • No 12 The OPCEDAW As A Mechanism For Implementing Women’s Human Rights: An analysis of the first five cases under the communications procedure of the OP-CEDAW (Published 2008)

    This paper analyses the first five decisions of the CEDAW Committee under the Communications procedure of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW. The main objective of this paper is to extract lessons from these five cases in order to promote a better use of this mechanism by the women’s movement.

  • No 11 Exploring the Potential of the UN Treaty Body System in Addressing Sexuality Rights (Published 2008)

    This paper seeks to explore the potential of the United Nations (UN) treaty body system in addressing sexuality rights, especially that related to the sexual identity/preference/orientation of women.1 It investigates what scope the system – which represents a major global human rights standard-setting structure – offers advocates to protect and forward these rights, at the same time identifies and discusses points where caution may be necessary. In so doing, the paper hopes to serve as a tool of reflection for women’s groups, on the importance of dealing with the right to sexual identity/preference/orientation. It calls on those already (or planning to be) engaged with the different treaty bodies – in particular, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee) – to include this concern in their agendas, and to do so in a way that will promote an expanded understanding and recognition of sexuality rights.

  • No 10 Addressing Rape as a Human Rights Violation: The role of international human rights norms and instruments” (Published 2007)

    This paper seeks to raise awareness of lawyers and judges on existing international human rights norms and instruments that can assist in the interpretation and application of constitutional and national laws in rape cases. It includes a collection of some judgments in the Asia Pacific region as well as norms set by international human rights instruments that may be applied in rape litigation. It also covers specific issues in such cases that pose major problems, specifically in litigation. In so doing, it is hoped that the paper will guide readers in interpreting and applying the provisions of national constitutions and laws – including common and customary law and international instruments – when conducting trials or making decisions.

  • No. 9 Women's Right to Nationality and Citizenship (Published 2006)

    This paper examines women’s rights under nationality and citizenship laws in the Asia and Pacific region. It discusses the entrenched gender-based biases women face in acquiring citizenship; the rights which are violated when equal citizenship rights are denied and the effects of such inequality; the major human rights instruments and selected jurisprudence that deal with the right to nationality; and finally, some strategies in moving forward on this issue.
  • No. 8 Addressing Intersectional Discrimination with Temporary Special Measures (Published 2006)

    This paper originated from IWRAW Asia Pacific’s desire to, one, support the CEDAW Committee in its efforts then to formulate a General Recommendation on temporary special measures; and two, to encourage advocates, states and treaty bodies to utilise temporary special measures in favour of women who experience intersectional discrimination and thus face multiple barriers in realising their human rights. This paper defines temporary special measures as: (i) positive steps, (ii) directly undertaken or sponsored by the state, (iii) in favour of women or subgroups of women, and (iv) which are aimed at attaining substantive equality. The paper shows how temporary special measures are a means to remedying structural discrimination and achieving substantive equality, and how its use can be justified. It discusses why these measures should be utilised for women who encounter multiple forms of discrimination. Finally, the paper presents strategies for the implementation of these measures.
  • No. 7 Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Opportunities and challenges for legal redress in Asia and the Pacific. (Published 2005)

    This paper seeks to address the absence or inadequacy of law in the area of sexual harassment at the workplace in the Asia and Pacific region. It presents a framework under civil law drawn from legal responses in different jurisdictions, with an aim to assist women’s rights activists in this region with added knowledge for informed advocacy and initiatives on the issue.
  • No. 6 The Right to Decide If, When and Whom to Marry: Obligations of the state under CEDAW and other international human rights instruments (Published 2005)

    This paper examines a woman’s right to decide, if when and whom to marry. It examines State parties’ obligations under treaty provisions as elaborated by general comments or recommendations, concluding comments or observations, and jurisprudence of the different treaty bodies. Although the paper discusses the undertakings assumed by State parties under all the human rights treaties, it concentrates primarily on the CEDAW Convention.
  • No. 5 The Validity of Reservations and Declarations to CEDAW: The Indian experience (Published 2005)

    This paper examines the validity and effect of reservations and declarations made by States parties to the CEDAW Convention, with India as a case study. The paper first provides an overview of the features and object of CEDAW, as well as the law on reservations and declarations. It then analyses the validity of India ’s declarations and reservation. Finally, the paper discusses advocacy strategies to lobby the government of India to withdraw the declarations and reservations made to CEDAW.
  • No. 4 Making human rights treaty bodies more effective: A gender critique of reforms to the reporting process. (Published 2005)

    This paper is a response to the draft guidelines proposed by the OHCHR in an attempt to reform the reporting process under the UN human rights treaties. The paper first provides a background to the ‘common core document’ proposal, followed by a discussion of the draft guidelines on the ‘common core document’ and ‘treaty-specific document’ produced by the OHCHR. The challenges that women’s human rights advocates need to consider in relation to the draft guidelines are identified and discussed in this paper. Finally, the paper summarises the pros and cons of the proposed guidelines as seen through a gender lens. This paper is a revised version of a contribution originally written for cedaw4change, a listserv run by IWRAW Asia Pacific, on the theme, “Expanded Core Document” in 2005.
  • No. 3 Lack of Access, Lack of Care: A reference guide to women’s right to health in the international trading system (Published 2004)

    While the focus of this paper is on trade and women’s right to health, it is also intended to serve as a more general framework of analysis that advocates can apply to trade and any number of economic and social rights. The paper first makes a connection between trade agreements and women’s right to health; second, it establishes the basis for the right to health and the importance of social and economic rights; finally, it provides women’s human rights advocates with tools to hold their national governments accountable for the discriminatory effects of trade policies that impair women’s enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.
  • No. 2 Equality in International Human Rights Treaties: An Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR) (Published 2004)

    This paper sets out arguments for the adoption of an individual complaints procedure to the ICESCR as a tool in giving voice to women’s concerns in international law. The first section provides an overview of the initial steps towards an optional protocol to the ICESCR. The next section looks at the framework of a potential optional protocol to the ICESCR including its scope, standing and remedies. It then examines the treatment of women’s issues by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in it Concluding Observations.
  • No. 1 The Status of CEDAW Implementation in ASEAN Countries and Selected Muslim Countries (Published 2004)

    This paper provides a brief review of the implementation of CEDAW in ASEAN countries and selected Muslim countries such as Egypt , Iraq , Jordan , Maldives and Tunisia . The paper looks at the status of ratifications in the above countries, as well as reservations made by States parties. It outlines the obligations of States parties under the CEDAW Convention and the applicability of CEDAW at the domestic level. Finally, the paper looks at specific initiatives undertaken by State parties in fulfilment of its obligations under this treaty.

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