In 2016, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Dubravka Šimonović put out a global call for submissions asking for feedback on the adequacy of the current international legal framework on violence against women.

The call for input, which was published on the Special Rapporteur’s webpage, consisted of the following five questions:

1. Do you consider that there is a need for a separate legally binding treaty on violence against women with its separate monitoring body?

2. Do you consider that there is an incorporation gap of the international or regional human rights norms and standards?

3. Do you believe that there is a lack of implementation of the international and regional legislation into the domestic law?

4. Do you think that there is a fragmentation of policies and legislation to address gender-based violence?

5. Could you also provide your views on measures needed to address this normative and implementation gap and to accelerate prevention and elimination of violence against women?

The request for input was an important step in furthering the conversation of whether a new legal instrument is needed to address violence against girls and women worldwide. But in a recent report, the Special Rapporteur published points of views from human-rights mechanisms that were against a new treaty while downplaying the response from NGOs and members of civil society who are widely in favor of new a treaty. The lack of transparency mischaracterizes the fact that people around the world—survivors, frontline practitioners, lawyers, directors and staff of local and national nonprofits—are passionate and mobilized on this topic. They want a treaty, urgently.

In fact, the vast majority of submissions from civil society (at least 230 of the 291) called for a treaty. When people respond, their voices should be heard. What follows is a summary of the responses from advocates around the world, along with excerpts of their submissions, expressing their support for a new treaty on violence against girls and women.

 

NO BINDING TREATY, NO GLOBAL PRESSURE, NO ACTION: The Case for a Treaty

There is no legally binding treaty addressing violence against girls and women and the absence has resulted in the lack of political will and global pressure necessary to implement current agreements. This includes CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which is often cited a reason for not supporting the idea of new treaty.

Difference in culture is often used to justify State Parties’ resistance to implementing CEDAW recommendations, but that idea simply allows the cycle of violence against women to continue. The absence of a comprehensive, legally binding, definition of violence against women has also led to fragmented policies and legislation. As a result, State Parties do not feel compelled to focus on implementation efforts, despite persistent advocacy by a wide range of organizations and groups.

Respondents emphasized that CEDAW does not directly address violence; it addresses discrimination, which leaves “violence” open to legal interpretation. Therefore, State Parties are left to their own discretion to incorporate, or not incorporate, CEDAW, including General Recommendation 19 [and General Recommendation No. 35] into their local and national policy frameworks. This causes an irreconcilable gap in global norms and standards on violence against women.

What does this mean? Violence persists. Justice for survivors is limited, or non-existent. Families and communities suffer. Wages are lost. Local and national economies weaken. Violence against women and girls leads to an avalanche of negative consequences worldwide, affecting public health, economics, and national and global security.

“Yes there is a need for a separate legally binding treaty because there is no specific international legally binding document that addresses the gross violation of rights that is violence against women and girls. A separate monitoring body focused on violence against women and girls can ensure all countries are upholding their due diligence and a global high standard to protect women and girls and prevent violence.” – Anne Gamurorwa, Executive Director, Communication for Development Foundation, Uganda

“Without an international mandate that obliges states to use standardized definitions, set punitive actions, provide unconditional resources for survivors, and train public and private officials on response and prevention, no serious reduction of VAWG will take place, particularly in autocratic states.” – Hala Aldosari, PhD, Aminah, Saudi Arabia

“Violence against women is probably the most democratic in its incidence, since it occurs across all boundaries of creed, ethnicity, nationality, educational status and economic strata. Since it is a global phenomenon, all the more reason it should be treated not just a cultural off shoot of patriarchy, but as a crime against humanity and a gross and irrefutable violation of human right to life of dignity.” – Meera Khanna, Executive Vice President, The Guild of Service, India

“The current lack of a legally binding international legislation means governments must have the political will and drive to implement general recommendations and comments – they are not legally bound to uphold these obligations at present, so there is no accountability.” – Ruth Howlett, National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuge New Zealand

“Conflating violence against women and discrimination against women results in an inadequate or incomplete description of the legal concept of violence against women as its own human rights violation. Just like torture is better addressed in CAT than in the ICCPR, VAW would be better addressed in a separate treaty than in CEDAW.” – International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University School of Law, California, USA

“Implementation of domestic policies could be greatly strengthened by a legally binding document holding governments to a specific level of accountability.” – Manizha Naderi, Executive Director, Women for Afghan Women, Afghanistan

 

A BINDING AGREEMENT, POLITICAL PRESSURE, THE END OF VIOLENCE

A new legally binding treaty specific to violence against women and girls will close the legal gap by creating a clear definition of violence and specific steps for addressing it. This legal tool would create a mechanism for collective global action, placing the weight of the world behind every women’s rights advocate, lawyer, and practitioner around the world working to end this violence.

Violence against women and girls is a complex and intersecting issue that requires a comprehensive, systematic approach. Using the success of the Landmines Treaty, the Tobacco Treaty, and the example of Tunisia’s comprehensive new law on violence against women, a new treaty would mandate that nations take a proactive approach across all sectors. It would require:

  • Comprehensive legislative reform
  • Training responders
  • Support Services
  • Prevention education
  • Adequate funding

The establishment of a legally binding tool combined with global pressure from around the world creates a concrete solution to implementing programs, policies and standards across states.

The following 228 Everywoman Everywhere members responded to the UN Special Rapporteur’s call for submission on the adequacy of the legal framework on violence against women stating their support for a new treaty.

1AnneGamurorwaAfrica
2FartunAbdisalaan AdanAfrica
3SelinaAhmedAsia
4AbiolaAkiyode-AfolabiAfrica
5WidadAkrawiEurope
6AsmaaAl AmeenMiddle East/ North Africa
7ZainabAli KhanAsia
8MuhabatAli MangrioAsia
9NailaAminNorth America
10SanaAminAsia
11SedenAnlarEurope
12FerdousAra BegumAsia
13KhadijaArfaouiMiddle East/ North Africa
14CarolArinze-UmeobiAfrica
15NadejdaAtayevaAsia
16RuthAuraAfrica
17NailaAwadMiddle East/ North Africa
18SamaAweidahMiddle East/ North Africa
19AdolfAwuku-BekoeAfrica
20AlvaroBacaLatin America/ Caribbean
21KateBaileyNorth America
22FadouaBakhaddaMiddle East/ North Africa
23AmyBarrowAsia
24Dr.AbdulBaseerAsia
25HayatBearatNorth America
26MunaraBeknazarovaAsia
27Fenna tenBergeEurope
28MirandaBerryNorth America
29VanessaBettinsonEurope
30CharityBinkaAfrica
31ZynabBinta SenesieAfrica
32JackieBlueOceania
33MillicentBogertNorth America
34AbdelilahBouasriaMiddle East/ North Africa
35PetraButlerOceania
36Abdul SattarChacharAsia
37AabhaChaudharyAsia
38ShaziaChoudhryEurope
39TanyiChristianAfrica
40VanessaCoria CastillaLatin America/ Caribbean
41AnnieCossinsOceania
42DornidaCoxAustralia
43NatalieCsengeriAsia
44PaolaDeganiAsia
45ManishaDesaiNorth America
46VisakaDharmadasaAsia
47SamiraDjiboAfrica
48JessicaDoyleEurope
49SukhgerelDugersurenAsia
50AlizaDurandNorth America
51Jo-AnneDuselNorth America
52MelvisEbob AgborAsia
53KateEdoziehAfrica
54ZineEl Abidine LarhfiriAsia
55HalahEldoseriMiddle East/ North Africa
56AmanyElgarfMiddle East/ North Africa
57IfeomaEnemoAfrica
58NatalieEslickOceania
59TaskinFahminaAsia
60DanFaullEurope
61EvelynFloresLatin America/ Caribbean
62BeatriceFofanahAfrica
63VeroniqueFourmentNorth America
64FelicityGerryOceania
65HeidiGuldbaekOceania
66PegHacskayloNorth America
67NabilaHaidaryAsia
68MichelleHamiltonNorth America
69GhadaHammamAfrica
70ClaireHammertonOceania
71NabilaHamzaMiddle East/ North Africa
72RaaziaHassan NaqviNorth America
73AngelaHeftiEurope
74SaraHellaliAsia
75CarolineHerewiniOceania
76JoyceHewettLatin America/ Caribbean
77LisaHoffmanNorth America
78Md. LiakatHossain KhanAsia
79RuthHowlettOceania
80MohammadHumayounAsia
81MoHumeEurope
82RosemaryHunterAsia
83YumanHussainAsia
84HeatherIbrahim-LeathersNorth America
85AnaIglesias-MorelEurope
86MatildaIngabire MutanguhaAfrica
87Help AgeInternationalAsia
88SandraIskanderOceania
89AzraJafariAsia
90P.ImranaJalalAsia
91KirthiJayakumarAsia
92SandraJohanssonEurope
93JackieJonesEurope
94TalentJumoAfrica
95KabannKabananukyeAfrica
96JeanKabongoAfrica
97SimiKamalAsia
98GulsanaKangeldievaAsia
99SheenaKanwarAsia
100PujaKapaiAsia
101ZahraKarimiMena
102StephanieKennedyNorth America
103ValerieKhanAsia
104HassanKhaniMiddle East/ North Africa
105HassanKhani IurighMena
106MeeraKhannaAsia
107MedeaKhmelidzeEurope
108SaminaKhushiAsia
109DeniseKindschi GosselinNorth America
110ChristineKingOceania
111SunitaKotnalaOceania
112MorissandaKouyatéAfrica
113SaidaKouzziMiddle East/ North Africa
114AlbenaKoychevaEurope
115JackKupfermanNorth America
116Nina WolffLandauNorth America
117JudyLearNorth America
118RyanLimAsia
119SisiLiuAsia
120Ann-MarieLoebelOceania
121SandraLopezLatin America/ Caribbean
122MisranLubisAsia
123LindaMacDonaldNorth America
124ShawnMacdonaldNorth America
125TruffyMaginnisOceania
126NamoMajeedAsia
127GulnaraMammadovaAsia
128GladysMbuyah LukuAfrica
129FrancesMcLennanEurope
130FrancesMcLennanAsia
131NancyMcLennanEurope
132SusanMcLucasNorth America
133RonaghMcQuiggEurope
134MonicaMcWilliamsEurope
135FatimaMendikulovaNorth America
136AlexanderMiamenAfrica
137MeherbanoMirzayeeMiddle East/ North Africa
138VioletaMocmcilovicEurope
139AledaMocMonagleNorth America
140SagrarioMonederoEurope
141NCAVMongoliaAsia
142SuntariyaMuanpawongAsia
143YolandaMunoz GonzalezNorth America
144SylvanusMurrayAfrica
145VirginiaMuwanigwaAfrica
146JudeMuyanjaNorth America
147ManizhaNaderiAsia
148HanifaNakiryowaNorth America
149KeertyNakrayAsia
150AliceNenneh JamesAfrica
151JoyNgozi EzeiloAfrica
152SavinaNongebatuOceania
153MarthaNtoipoAfrica
154EleanorNwadinobiAfrica
155MargaretNwagboAfrica
156ObiomaNwaorguAfrica
157LauraNyirinkindiAfrica
158MariaPachonNorth America
159Ivan DavidPachonLatin America/ Caribbean
160ShivaniPanditNorth America
161SeyoungParkNorth America
162AnarkaleePereraNorth America
163RalucaPetre-SandorEurope
164JociePhilistinLatin America/ Caribbean
165DushiyanthaniPillaiAsia
166MarinaPisklák-ParkerEurope
167AnuRadhaAsia
168SairaRahman KhanAsia
169AlinaRamirezLatin America/ Caribbean
170DavidRichardsNorth America
171FranciscoRiveraLatin America/ Caribbean
172LindsayRobertsonNorth America
173HelahRobinsonNorth America
174CarolynRodehauNorth America
175AméricaRomualdoLatin America/ Caribbean
176SopheapRosAsia
177RatchneewanRossNorth America
178RhonaSan PedroAsia
179Maria MontesinosSanchez-ElviraAsia
180SanjanaSarnavkaEurope
181JeanneSarsonNorth America
182AndrewSaundersEurope
183DeniseScottoNorth America
184AnneScully-HillAsia
185KatarzynaSękowska-KozłowskaEurope
186MichalSelaEurope
187TevitaSeruilumiOceania
188RashriShamsunderNorth America
189LisaShannonNorth America
190BhawaniShanker KusumAsia
191SusanSharfmanNorth America
192NormaShearerAsia
193HauwaShekarauAfrica
194ShantaShresthaAsia
195RamonaSinghLatin America/ Caribbean
196JoannaSmetekEurope
197SamiraSouleyMiddle East/ North Africa
198VidyaSriNorth America
199KellyStonerNorth America – Tribal Lands
200Krishna PrasadSubediAsia
201OritSulitzeanuMena
202CrisSullivanNorth America
203ReenaTandonNorth America
204LaurieTannousNorth America
205MarthaTholanahAfrica
206YeabuTholleyAfrica
207WhareTiakiOceania
208AnneToddOceania
209SafeerU KhanAsia
210RachelUemotoNorth America
211ZainabUmu MoserayAfrica
212JinanUstaMiddle East/ North Africa
213Violavan BogaertLatin America/ Caribbean
214NatalieWadeOceania
215MonicaWaqanisauOceania
216RichardWatsonEurope
217ElaineWebsterEurope
218TimWhiteNorth America
219LizWhitemanNorth America
220KenWillman BordatMiddle East/ North Africa
221DavidWoffordNorth America
222PeiYuxinAsia
223FarwaZafarAsia
224Marie NyomboZainaAfrica
225Association Marocaine des Droits HumainsAfrica
226Centro de la Mujer PanameñaLatin America/ Caribbean
227NCAV MongoliaAsia
228Training for Women NetworkEurope

 

WHO WE ARE

Everywoman Everywhere is a coalition of individuals and organizations from 141 countries advancing a global treaty to eradicate violence against women and girls. Our members include more than 1,300 frontline practitioners, advocates and survivors of violence, and more than 550 organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Vital Voices and Futures Without Violence.

Everywoman Everywhere was incubated at the Initiative on Violence Against Women at the Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School. Additional research revealed that the current international legal framework is insufficient for addressing this global crisis. Gaps in the law, and the mechanisms for implementation, leave millions of women and girls with little to no legal protection against violence or the recourse to seek justice. It became clear that a specific treaty on violence against girls and women would give advocates, practitioners, and world leaders the legally binding instrument necessary to hold nation states accountable.

Download this report: Global Outcry Advocates Urge UN for Treaty to End Violence Against Girls and Women