U.N. Concerned Over Countries’ Reluctance to Ratify CEDAW

Members of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) are concerned about the increasing list of countries that will not ratify the treaty. Out of 161 countries who are ratifying, 44 have said that they will not include certain provisions of the treaty because of religious, political, cultural or constitutional grounds. Head of CEDAW Salma Khan said, “If a country enters a reservation on the very basis of the convention – which guarantees the general principle of equality – then it really becomes a matter of concern.”

Many of the countries are refusing to implement Articles 2 and 16. Article 2 requires countries to agree to take all necessary measures to ensure the equality of women. Article 16 asks countries to ensure women’s political, civil, economic, cultural and legal rights. Khan commented, “…when you enter a reservation on Article 2, you are violating and nullifying the whole concept and sense of the convention.”

The 44 countries who will not implement all of the treaty include: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. Right-wing U.S. Congressional members are forbidding ratification of the treaty which they deem a “Bill of Rights for Women.”

A coalition of women’s organizations issued a statement last week, demanding “the universal ratification of the Convention and the removal of all limiting reservations, as the Beijing Platform directs, by the year 2000.” The Under-Secretary-General Mary Robinson, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has vowed to campaign for the ratification of the Convention.

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IPS - March 15, 1998

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