May 24, 2006
Support Ratification of CEDAW
CEDAW is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It establishes a set of standards for combating discrimination against women and has helped women throughout the world. Women have used this treaty to gain basic human rights such as the rights to vote, to education, and to own property.
As of May 2006, the Treaty has been ratified by 183 countries with Brunei Darussalam signing today. Its universality counters claims that in certain cultures discrimination, domestic violence, and other forms of oppression are acceptable. The United States is one of the few countries in the world that has not ratified the Treaty. This is a detriment to the struggle for women’s rights, both domestically and internationally. The Treaty can also help address many of these injustices and abuses that exist for women in the States. Without the United States as a party to the Treaty, repressive governments can easily discount the Treaty’s provisions.
The U.S. still has not ratified CEDAW (along with Sudan and Somalia) the Convention on the Rights of the Child (again the U.S. enjoying good company with Somalia), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The U.S. has opposed the recognition of economic, social, and cultural rights like the right to education and healthcare. As well as placed “provisions” or limitations on enforcement the treaties it has ratified.
If you live in the states, you can urge your U.S. Senators to support ratification of CEDAW). Click here for a petition from Amnesty.
Information on CEDAW from Amnesty International
Fiction: The Treaty promotes abortion by promoting access to “family planning.”
Fact:The Treaty intentionally does not address the issue of abortion. Many countries where abortion is illegal have ratified it, such as Ireland, Burkina Faso, and Rwanda. The U.S. State Department says the Treaty is “abortion neutral.” In 1994, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee added an “understanding” to the Treaty noting that it does not include a right to abortion.
Fiction: The Treaty could lead to sanctioning same-sex marriages.
Fact: The Treaty’s terms are clearly aimed only at sex-based discrimination against women. The Treaty would not compel the United States to change any laws or pass same-sex marriage laws. In addition, the majority of countries that have ratified the treaty currently ban same-sex marriages.
Fiction: The Treaty will require legalization of prostitution.
Fact:The CEDAW Committee has called for the decriminalization of prostitution in specific countries such as China where prostitution and trafficking in women and children are rampant, not for all countries in general. Regulation would allow victimized women to come forward without fear of repercussions for treatment to prevent HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, to obtain health care and education, and to halt trafficking and sex slavery practices.
- In case you are interested, UNHCHRhas a document online called the Status of Ratification of Principal International Human Rights Treaties. On top it lists the different international treaties and the rest is a chart of all the countries and what treaties they have signed.