Home > Four Nations, Four Special Rapporteurs Call for Treaty in New York

Four Nations, Four Special Rapporteurs Call for Treaty in New York

The four nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, along with the current and three former Special Rapporteurs on violence against women and girls called on all nations to support the creation of a new Optional Protocol to CEDAW to end violence against women and girls at Every Woman Treaty’s side event at the Commission on the Status of Women, the UN’s largest gathering on gender equality.

It was extraordinary to see the four national representatives and the four Special Rapporteurs seated at the table — the culmination of a decade of work for a treaty and the first time four Special Rapporteurs had come together to issue a collective call for the creation of an international law to end violence against women and girls.

The event got underway with the Honorable Ms. Samantha Marshall, Minister of State responsible for Gender Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda, which co-hosted the event.

“I implore each one of you to support the proposal for an Optional Protocol under the CEDAW Convention,” she said. “Violence against women and girls is not just a women’s issue; it is an existential threat to the sustainable development of our countries.”

The Honorable Ms. Isata Mahoi, Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone,  and His Excellency Ambassador Zénon Ngay Mukongo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Honorable Mr. Daniel Zavala Porras, Minister Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations in New York, shared remarks on their nation’s commitment to the treaty and their openness to welcoming other nations into the process(In early December 2023, the four nations issued a joint statement on the optional protocol and officially announced the creation of the Core Group of Friends for an Optional Protocol to CEDAW, the nation-led initiative for the treaty.)

The current Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls Ms. Reem Alsalem made a case for the optional protocol, noting that it would bolster the standards set by CEDAW and build upon them. “The time for the optional protocol was not now but already yesterday,” she said, quoting one of her predecessors.

Each of the former Special Rapporteurs — Ms. Dubravka Šimonović (2015-2021), Professor Rashida Manjoo (2009-2015), Dr. Yakin Ertürk (2003-2009)  — spoke about why they believed an optional protocol was needed now. Their remarks provided an overview of the history of the legal framework on violence against women and girls, a perspective on why international law matters and the particular challenge we face in light of the fact that violence against women and girls is woven into the world’s economic, political and social systems.

All of the Special Rapporteurs’ remarks represent a perspective that spans 30 years of work on women’s rights and violence against women and girls. Please listen to their full presentations here.