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VAW Research Briefing Yale Law School, Lowenstein Clinic - Katherine Culver, Jessica So, Tiffany Tam.

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Presentation on theme: "VAW Research Briefing Yale Law School, Lowenstein Clinic - Katherine Culver, Jessica So, Tiffany Tam."— Presentation transcript:

1 VAW Research Briefing Yale Law School, Lowenstein Clinic - Katherine Culver, Jessica So, Tiffany Tam

2 Structure/Substance of CEDAW Legal Status of CEDAW and State Obligations – Convention is binding law – Affirmative obligations - states must take “all appropriate means and without delay” to eliminate discrimination against women. General Recommendations – Accepted as authoritative statements of interpretation – Gen. Rec. 19: Discrimination under Art. 1 includes gender-based violence against women. Makes clear that (1) "Gender-based violence may breach specific provisions of the Convention, regardless of whether those provisions expressly mention violence" and (2) "full implementation of the Convention require[s] states to take positive steps to prevent [VAW].” This interpretation set forth by Gen Rec 19 has been widely accepted by states, and the obligation to address VAW is seen as a core component of a state's human rights obligations under CEDAW.

3 Reasons for the absence of explicit mention of VAW in the text of CEDAW Proposal to include “attacks on the physical integrity of women” in Art. 6 (sex trafficking) was rejected Historical context: international human rights law focus on state actions, VAW seen as a criminal or health problem rather than human rights

4 Enforcement mechanisms of CEDAW Committee State Periodic Reporting – Each state party must report to the Committee on measures taken to implement CEDAW. First report, one year after entry into force and then once every four years (Art. 18). – Committee can make recommendations to the state (Art. 21). – NGOs play a significant role in this process Optional Protocol: Individual Complaints (and Inquiries) – 104 states parties to the Optional Protocol – 67 cases submitted: about half are pending, 16 were admissible, and 9 of those deal with VAW – Committee found violations of Art. 2 (states' obligation to undertake policy measures to eliminate discrimination against women) & Art. 5 (sex stereotyping), read in conjunction with Art. 1 (discrimination) & Gen. Rec. 19 in most VAW cases – Enforcement: In issuing decisions on the merits of complaints, the Committee can make recommendations. The state is required to respond on remedial steps taken (Optional Protocol Art. 7 & 9). Committee can request that states take interim measures to protect individual victims (Optional Protocol Art. 5)

5 Case Study: Bulgaria 3 individual complaints: V.K. (domestic violence, filed 2008, decision 2011); V.P.P (sexual violence, filed 2011, decision 2012); Jallow (domestic violence, filed 2011, decision 2012) – All found violations of several articles of CEDAW in conjunction with Gen Rec 19 on VAW V.K.’s path to CEDAW – Involvement of Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, NGO looking to bring strategic litigation to CEDAW – Lawyer who had undergone specific training in CEDAW through Women’s Human Rights Training Institute Choice of Forum: CEDAW vs. ECtHR – Long delays at ECtHR; possibility of general recommendations under CEDAW; more favorable jurisprudence under CEDAW V.K. Outcomes – Substantive recommendations for Bulgaria: amending domestic violence laws; funding for victims’ services; training for judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement in national domestic violence law and CEDAW – Some steps toward implementation, but slow progress

6 Case Study: Philippines 2 individual complaints: Vertido (rape, filed 2007, decision 2010); R.P.B. (rape of young woman with disability, filed 2011, decision 2014) – Both found violations of several articles of CEDAW in conjunction with Gen. Rec. 19 on VAW Paths to CEDAW – Vertido was encouraged to file by former Philippine CEDAW Committee member & by her lawyer who was looking for a CEDAW test case – NGO leader referred R.P.B. to the same lawyer who represented Vertido – CEDAW chosen because effective domestic remedies not available & no regional alternative Experience with the Optional Protocol Communication Procedure – Collaborative process, straightforward, accessible – Advocate found the substance of CEDAW re: VAW sufficient to allege violations of the Convention and lodge effective complaint Outcomes – Vertido: Philippines government has not responded or complied with Committee’s recommendations – RPB: Decision just published Feb Advocate sees opportunity for coalition-building with disability-rights groups

7 Conclusions Utilization of CEDAW Optional Protocol mechanism in Bulgaria & the Philippines enabled by : – Political context – Strong civil society networks/women’s rights movements – Advocates’ proficiency in official working language Advocates in Bulgaria & the Philippines say CEDAW’s jurisprudence on VAW is robust, sufficient to hold states accountable for failure to protect against VAW – Difficulties in national implementation Advocates in Bulgaria & the Philippines suggest strategic focus on implementing existing standards – Possible strategy: train more lawyers and advocates in using CEDAW In sum: CEDAW seems to contain the necessary standards to hold states accountable for VAW-related violations. The real challenge is national implementation of CEDAW and national compliance with the Committee's decisions and recommendations. – Key recommendation: Consider pushing for national-level implementation of existing standards rather than the creation of a new international legal instrument.


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