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CEDAW Committee

The implementation of the CEDAW Convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), composed of 23 experts who represent the range of fields of competence covered by the CEDAW Convention, as well as equitable geographical distribution and principle legal systems. The Committee holds two annual sessions in the United Nations, New York. The primary function of the CEDAW Committee is to monitor national level implementation of the principles of the CEDAW Convention. It does this through periodic assessments of reports submitted by States Parties every four years. The Committee also considers alternative information provided by non-governmental bodies and UN agencies when assessing the status of implementation of the CEDAW Convention in each country.

Concluding Comments

After the review of the country concerned, the CEDAW Committee prepares a set of recommendations called the Concluding Comments. These comments provide country-specific recommendations on steps that need to be undertaken to improve the situation of women in all areas covered.

De facto equality vs. de jure equality

The principle of substantive equality sets forth standards for assessing the impact of discrimination in the lives of women. In this regard, de facto and de jure equality must be ensured for all women. De facto equality refers to "real life equality", equality that takes place in practice, from day to day. De jure equality on the other hand refers to "legal equality" i.e. formal equality as defined in the legal framework and on paper.


Jurisprudence is an interpretation of legal provisions as they apply in practice. A series of these interpretations (in the form of judgements, legal opinions, recommendations, etc) build up a body of legal theory.

Principle of Non-Discrimination

The principle of non-discrimination is based on the understanding that discrimination is socially constructed and that it is not an essential or natural principle of human interaction. This recognises the need for and paves the way for concerted action against inequality and the institutional mechanisms which perpetuate inequality.

Principle of State Obligation

The CEDAW Convention carries with it the principle of State obligation. Through ratification or accession to the Convention, the country becomes a State Party to the CEDAW Convention and voluntarily accepts a range of legally-binding obligations to eliminate discrimination against women and bring about equality between women and men. By doing this, it has entered into a contract with all other States Parties to the CEDAW Convention that it will abide by norms and standards collectively agreed upon by the States Parties and that it is offering itself to a scrutiny by an international expert committee on the basis of these norms and standards. Under this treaty, the dynamics of relationship between the State and women is no longer one of the dependency of women on the good will or vagaries of the State, but one in which the State has responsibilities to women from which it cannot withdraw. Under the CEDAW Convention, the State obligation is to respect, protect, promote and fulfil all the human rights of women. These are responsibilities to which the State will be held accountable at the national and international levels.


The commitment of government to undertake all necessary action to sincerely implement the content and spirit of an internationally agreed convention.

Source: IWRAW Asia-Pacific. 2002. "Building Capacity for Change: A Training Manual on the CEDAW Convention".

Reproductive and Sexual Rights

The human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Equal relations between women and men in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the integrity of the person, require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behaviour and its consequences.

Source: United Nations. 1996. Platform for Action and the Beijing Declaration, para 96. p.59.

Treaty Bodies

Treaty Bodies are Human Rights Committees composed of experts appointed in their personal capacities to monitor the implementation of the main international human rights treaties and their optional protocols. There are five other treaty bodies besides CEDAW: The Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Committee Against Torture and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Source: Compiled from < intro.htm>.
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Publication:Arrows For Change
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:May 1, 2002
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