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NZ backs stronger anti-discrimination convention


Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

Hon Laila Harre
Minister of Women's Affairs
Media Statement

8 March 2000

NZ backs stronger anti-discrimination convention for women

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Women's Affairs Minister Laila Harre today marked International Women's Day by announcing New Zealand will adopt a strengthening provision to a UN convention aimed at ending discrimination against women.

"We are delighted that New Zealand will be taking an early opportunity to sign and subsequently ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)," Helen Clark and Laila Harre said.

"This is a significant advance for women's rights as it provides women with a forum for complaints of violations of the rights guaranteed by the CEDAW convention.

"Under this protocol the CEDAW committee can inquire into women's rights in countries where there are suspected to be systematic or grave violations of the convention.

"Complaints can only be lodged if domestic remedies have been exhausted. While the committee's findings are not legally binding on states, they will have considerable moral force.

"It is very satisfying for the New Zealand Government to be making this announcement today, both because it is International Women's Day and so an occasion to reflect on progress for women and the challenges ahead, and because New Zealand played a constructive role in the negotiation of the protocol," Helen Clark and Laila Harre said.

The two ministers added that the Optional Protocol would now need to be tabled in Parliament for consideration by a select committee, before the final step of ratification is taken.

Legislation is not required for its implementation.

ENDS

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