A Global Outcry: Advocates Urge UN For A Treaty

MARCH 6, 2018

|IN NEWS

|BY ADMIN

In 2016, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Dubravka Šimonović put out a global call for submissions asking for feedback on the adequacy of the current international legal framework on violence against women.

The call for input, which was published on the Special Rapporteur’s webpage, consisted of the following five questions:

1. Do you consider that there is a need for a separate legally binding treaty on violence against women with its separate monitoring body?

2. Do you consider that there is an incorporation gap of the international or regional human rights norms and standards?

3. Do you believe that there is a lack of implementation of the international and regional legislation into the domestic law?

4. Do you think that there is a fragmentation of policies and legislation to address gender-based violence?

5. Could you also provide your views on measures needed to address this normative and implementation gap and to accelerate prevention and elimination of violence against women?

The request for input was an important step in furthering the conversation of whether a new legal instrument is needed to address violence against girls and women worldwide. But in a recent report, the Special Rapporteur published points of views from human-rights mechanisms that were against a new treaty while downplaying the response from NGOs and members of civil society who are widely in favor of new a treaty. The lack of transparency mischaracterizes the fact that people around the world—survivors, frontline practitioners, lawyers, directors and staff of local and national nonprofits—are passionate and mobilized on this topic. They want a treaty, urgently.

In fact, the vast majority of submissions from civil society (at least 230 of the 291) called for a treaty. When people respond, their voices should be heard. What follows is a summary of the responses from advocates around the world, along with excerpts of their submissions, expressing their support for a new treaty on violence against girls and women.

 

NO BINDING TREATY, NO GLOBAL PRESSURE, NO ACTION: The Case for a Treaty

There is no legally binding treaty addressing violence against girls and women and the absence has resulted in the lack of political will and global pressure necessary to implement current agreements. This includes CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which is often cited a reason for not supporting the idea of new treaty.

Difference in culture is often used to justify State Parties’ resistance to implementing CEDAW recommendations, but that idea simply allows the cycle of violence against women to continue. The absence of a comprehensive, legally binding, definition of violence against women has also led to fragmented policies and legislation. As a result, State Parties do not feel compelled to focus on implementation efforts, despite persistent advocacy by a wide range of organizations and groups.

Respondents emphasized that CEDAW does not directly address violence; it addresses discrimination, which leaves “violence” open to legal interpretation. Therefore, State Parties are left to their own discretion to incorporate, or not incorporate, CEDAW, including General Recommendation 19 [and General Recommendation No. 35] into their local and national policy frameworks. This causes an irreconcilable gap in global norms and standards on violence against women.

What does this mean? Violence persists. Justice for survivors is limited, or non-existent. Families and communities suffer. Wages are lost. Local and national economies weaken. Violence against women and girls leads to an avalanche of negative consequences worldwide, affecting public health, economics, and national and global security.

“Yes there is a need for a separate legally binding treaty because there is no specific international legally binding document that addresses the gross violation of rights that is violence against women and girls. A separate monitoring body focused on violence against women and girls can ensure all countries are upholding their due diligence and a global high standard to protect women and girls and prevent violence.” – Anne Gamurorwa, Executive Director, Communication for Development Foundation, Uganda

“Without an international mandate that obliges states to use standardized definitions, set punitive actions, provide unconditional resources for survivors, and train public and private officials on response and prevention, no serious reduction of VAWG will take place, particularly in autocratic states.” – Hala Aldosari, PhD, Aminah, Saudi Arabia

“Violence against women is probably the most democratic in its incidence, since it occurs across all boundaries of creed, ethnicity, nationality, educational status and economic strata. Since it is a global phenomenon, all the more reason it should be treated not just a cultural off shoot of patriarchy, but as a crime against humanity and a gross and irrefutable violation of human right to life of dignity.” – Meera Khanna, Executive Vice President, The Guild of Service, India

“The current lack of a legally binding international legislation means governments must have the political will and drive to implement general recommendations and comments – they are not legally bound to uphold these obligations at present, so there is no accountability.” – Ruth Howlett, National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuge New Zealand

“Conflating violence against women and discrimination against women results in an inadequate or incomplete description of the legal concept of violence against women as its own human rights violation. Just like torture is better addressed in CAT than in the ICCPR, VAW would be better addressed in a separate treaty than in CEDAW.” – International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University School of Law, California, USA

“Implementation of domestic policies could be greatly strengthened by a legally binding document holding governments to a specific level of accountability.” – Manizha Naderi, Executive Director, Women for Afghan Women, Afghanistan

 

A BINDING AGREEMENT, POLITICAL PRESSURE, THE END OF VIOLENCE

A new legally binding treaty specific to violence against women and girls will close the legal gap by creating a clear definition of violence and specific steps for addressing it. This legal tool would create a mechanism for collective global action, placing place the weight of the world behind every women’s rights advocate, lawyer and practitioner around the world working to end this violence.

Violence against women and girls is a complex and intersecting issue that requires a comprehensive, systematic approach. Using the success of the Landmines Treaty, the Tobacco Treaty and the example of Tunisia’s comprehensive new law on violence against women, a new treaty would mandate that nations take a proactive approach across all sectors. It would require:

The establishment of a legally binding tool combined with global pressure from around the world creates a concrete solution to implementing programs, policies and standards across states.

The following 228 Everywoman Everywhere members responded to the UN Special Rapporteur’s call for submission on the adequacy of the legal framework on violence against women stating their support for a new treaty.

1

Anne

Gamurorwa

Africa

2

Fartun

Abdisalaan Adan

Africa

3

Selina

Ahmed

Asia

4

Abiola

Akiyode-Afolabi

Africa

5

Widad

Akrawi

Europe

6

Asmaa

Al Ameen

Middle East/ North Africa

7

Zainab

Ali Khan

Asia

8

Muhabat

Ali Mangrio

Asia

9

Naila

Amin

North America

10

Sana

Amin

Asia

11

Seden

Anlar

Europe

12

Ferdous

Ara Begum

Asia

13

Khadija

Arfaoui

Middle East/ North Africa

14

Carol

Arinze-Umeobi

Africa

15

Nadejda

Atayeva

Asia

16

Ruth

Aura

Africa

17

Naila

Awad

Middle East/ North Africa

18

Sama

Aweidah

Middle East/ North Africa

19

Adolf

Awuku-Bekoe

Africa

20

Alvaro

Baca

Latin America/ Caribbean

21

Kate

Bailey

North America

22

Fadoua

Bakhadda

Middle East/ North Africa

23

Amy

Barrow

Asia

24

Dr.Abdul

Baseer

Asia

25

Hayat

Bearat

North America

26

Munara

Beknazarova

Asia

27

Fenna ten

Berge

Europe

28

Miranda

Berry

North America

29

Vanessa

Bettinson

Europe

30

Charity

Binka

Africa

31

Zynab

Binta Senesie

Africa

32

Jackie

Blue

Oceania

33

Millicent

Bogert

North America

34

Abdelilah

Bouasria

Middle East/ North Africa

35

Petra

Butler

Oceania

36

Abdul Sattar

Chachar

Asia

37

Aabha

Chaudhary

Asia

38

Shazia

Choudhry

Europe

39

Tanyi

Christian

Africa

40

Vanessa

Coria Castilla

Latin America/ Caribbean

41

Annie

Cossins

Oceania

42

Dornida

Cox

Australia

43

Natalie

Csengeri

Asia

44

Paola

Degani

Asia

45

Manisha

Desai

North America

46

Visaka

Dharmadasa

Asia

47

Samira

Djibo

Africa

48

Jessica

Doyle

Europe

49

Sukhgerel

Dugersuren

Asia

50

Aliza

Durand

North America

51

Jo-Anne

Dusel

North America

52

Melvis

Ebob Agbor

Asia

53

Kate

Edozieh

Africa

54

Zine

El Abidine Larhfiri

Asia

55

Halah

Eldoseri

Middle East/ North Africa

56

Amany

Elgarf

Middle East/ North Africa

57

Ifeoma

Enemo

Africa

58

Natalie

Eslick

Oceania

59

Taskin

Fahmina

Asia

60

Dan

Faull

Europe

61

Evelyn

Flores

Latin America/ Caribbean

62

Beatrice

Fofanah

Africa

63

Veronique

Fourment

North America

64

Felicity

Gerry

Oceania

65

Heidi

Guldbaek

Oceania

66

Peg

Hacskaylo

North America

67

Nabila

Haidary

Asia

68

Michelle

Hamilton

North America