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UN must prioritise women’s protection

UN must prioritise women’s protection amid States’ inadequate action, urges Special Rapporteur

NEW YORK (6 October 2017) - Existing international conventions and treaties designed to protect women from violence are not being sufficiently implemented by governments around the world, and fresh action needs to be spearheaded by the UN, an expert on violence against women has told the General Assembly in New York.

Dubravka Šimonoviæ, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, called for a global action plan to help cut through the complex legal framework and bridge the gap between international standards and national laws.

Ms. Šimonoviæ presented a full report on the adequacy of the international framework on violence against women, which she has investigated over the past two years with extensive consultations with other experts in the field.

Opinion was divided between both UN and regional mechanisms experts and civil society organizations, she noted.

Some argued that existing treaties and other instruments should be used to the full, with no need for a separate instrument dealing exclusively with violence against women. Others insisted that a global treaty on women could provide vital new legally binding mechanisms, while a third group supported the idea of a new protocol to theConvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The Special Rapporteur said that amid the different views, a growing consensus had emerged of the need for global action to address gender-based violence against women more strongly and effectively, as well as to accelerate progress.

Recent steps had helped improve understanding of CEDAW and the existing legal framework, she said, but acknowledged that the current international framework was complex, fragmented and in many ways “disconnected” in its implementation by individual countries.

“This problem of lack of implementation and incorporation of the existing legal framework could be more effectively tackled through the creation of a global implementation plan on violence against women,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“I believe that such a global implementation plan on addressing violence against women would fit under the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 5, target 2, and that efforts and resources should be focused on bridging the incorporation and implementation gaps between international standards and national law and policy.”

These steps, she added, should include improving data collection on femicide or gender-related killings of women and other forms of violence, provision of shelters and protection orders, and other implementation strategies.

The Special Rapporteur said that the implementation of the recently adopted CEDAW General Recommendation 35 on gender-based violence against women, combined with the adoption of a new CEDAW protocol, could represent a long-term solution to boost women’s protection and stamp out violence against them.

“This option could also provide a response to all those arguments highlighting the lack of legally binding nature of CEDAW recommendations and the need for strengthening the existing legal and policy framework on violence against women,” she said.

“However, in my view, this is not sufficient to overcome the current lack of implementation of the existing instruments. There [are] significant incorporation and implementation gaps of global and regional instruments on violence against women and women’s rights at the national level.

“This issue should be more vigorously addressed and put at the top of the UN agenda.”

The Special Rapporteur also proposed the creation of an inter-governmental working group to push for the elimination of gender-based violence against women, open to UN Member States, NGOs and international human rights institutions. The working group could start working on the proposed global action plan, she added.

Ms. Šimonoviæ also urged governments, civil society and relevant UN agencies to start work on a fifth UN World Review Conference on Women, which could focus on violence against women and consider adopting the action plan.


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