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UN CEDAW Committee adopts General Recommendation on the protection of women’s human rights in conflict and post-conflict situations

[New York, 29 July 2011] During its 49th session, held on 29th July 2011, the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted a general recommendation on the protection of women’s human rights in conflict and post-conflict situations.

“In addition to the widely reported instances of sexual violence and mass rape in times of war, women experience widespread violation of non-derogable rights to life, torture, summary or arbitrary executions, displacement and gross violations of socio-economic rights,” said Pramila Patten, the chair of CEDAW’s Working Group on the human rights of women in armed conflict and post-conflict situations.

The proposed general recommendation will address diverse conflicts, including violations occurring in international and non-international armed conflicts, as well as in situations of extreme violence and other internal disturbances which may not necessarily be classified as armed conflict.

Country reports

The committee is tasked with monitoring compliance to the Convention by considering reports submitted to it by the State parties to the convention. During its 49th session, the Committee considered reports from Costa Rica, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Italy, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Zambia.

Silvia Pimental, the chair of the CEDAW Committee, told a news conference at UN Headquarters that improvements in the those countries included legal reforms aimed at ending discrimination and promoting gender equality, the implementation of policies to allow property ownership, access to health and education, greater participation in decision-making, and efforts towards ending violence against women, including female genital mutilation (FGM).

Ms. Pimental said that the committee had also expressed its concern that in the eight countries whose reports were considered, “stereotypes and conservative attitudes which have an impact on the on the advancement of women’s rights” persisted. She also pointed out that discriminatory provisions regarding marriage, inheritance, nationality and family relations remained on the statute books of many countries.

Additionally, Ms. Pimental said the Committee had noted that trafficking of women and children remained a common problem in some of the countries whose reports were under consideration, and that women and girls continued to be subjected to harmful practices, including the demand for bride price, polygamy, child marriage, abduction and rape. Each of the countries had disadvantaged groups of women who suffered multiple forms of discrimination, and limited participation of women in decision-making in business and government was also identified.

The Committee also noted lack of laws addressing sexual harassment in the workplace and violence against women, including marital rape.

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