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CEDAW Committee Comes to the New York

10 Jul

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Committee’s 52nd session opened in New York on 9 July 2012 with a public event focusing on Women’s Participation and Leadership. As established by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (hereafter ‘Convention’), the Committee is the working body of the Convention, monitoring its implementation. It is composed of 23 international experts who are elected from states parties and serve in their personal capacities. The Committee is mandated to formulate general recommendations to states parties regarding articles or themes of the Convention, to receive communications about instances when the Convention has been violated, and to initiate inquiries in instances where violations of women’s rights exist.

The Chairperson, Silvia Pimentel, opened the session by providing an overview of the work of the Committee since the 51st session; Ms. Pimentel noted the Committee’s involvement in Rio+20 and the future of women’s empowerment in sustainable development. Also noted was the Committee’s involvement in strengthening the work of treaty bodies, an initiative that has been recently taken on by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR). During this session, the Committee will review the Bahamas, Bulgaria, Guyana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand and Samoa.  Guyana is the first country to be reviewed, and the Committee is likely to focus on the domestic and sexual violence of women and young girls, access to counseling services, as well as programs supporting the elderly.  

In addition to the review of states parties, this session also provides the opportunity for the Convention to be tied to different security themes, including the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiations that are taking place in parallel to the session. Civil society groups are likely to use this time to highlight the links between CEDAW and the ATT and combating violence against women. Similarly, as the Committee is in the process of formulating the general recommendations from last summer’s general discussion on Women in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations, it will be interesting to see if and how discussions from last summer and throughout the past year will continue this summer, especially with the upcoming session of the Commission on the Status of Women under the theme of Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

GAPW will be monitoring the work of the Committee during this session and reporting regularly on the review of states parties, informal meetings with NGOs and national human rights organizations, and relevant side-events. Please check back here for further reporting.

-Melina Lito