A new progressive recommendation, in connection to the UN Women’s Rights Convention has been handed down by the United Nations. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted General Recommendation No. 30 on Women in Conflict Prevention, Conflict, and Post-conflict Situations, on October 18, 2013. Notably, this adoption occurred on the same day as the UN Security Council Resolution 2122, which stresses the importance of women’s involvement in conflict prevention, resolution and peace-building.
The preamble of the UN Women’s Rights Convention recognizes equality for men and women. This includes freedoms without distinction based on sex, equal rights to enjoy economic, social, political, civil rights, awareness that the role of women in procreation should not be a basis for discrimination but that the upbringing of children requires a sharing of responsibility between men and women and society as a whole, etc.
The primary aim and purpose of General Recommendation No. 30 to the Convention is to provide authoritative guidance to States parties on legislative, policy and other appropriate measures to ensure full compliance with their obligations under the Convention to protect, respect, and fulfill women’s human rights. It also builds upon principles articulated in previously adopted General Recommendations.
General Recommendation No. 30 specifically guides States parties on the implementation of their obligation of due diligence in respect of acts of private individuals or entities that impair the rights enshrined in the Convention, and makes suggestions as to how non-State actors can address women’s rights in conflict- affected areas. The Committee has repeatedly stressed that the Convention requires States parties to regulate non-State actors under the duty to protect, such that States must exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and ensure redress for the acts of private individuals or entities that impair the rights enshrined in the Convention.
This addition to the Convention is another proverbial feather in the women’s rights movement’s cap. It acknowledges that there is need for women’s rights in prevention of conflicts and even in post-conflict situations. Many times, violence against women, particularly sexual violence, is used as a precursor, or warning, to a conflict. But often, the violence does not stop once the conflict is over. In fact, sexual violence frequently escalates in post-conflict settings. Recommendation No. 30 recognizes a need to protect women before, during, and after conflict situations. There is a need to prevent the violence before it even begins.
How effective do you think this new Recommendation will be in conflict zones? Do you think the Recommendation will spark more Conventions or Recommendations to further protect women and women’s rights? Do you think, on the other hand, that there will be a backlash from this Recommendation by non-State parties?