NHRIs and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

25 November, 2019

By Camilla Alonzo, Equality and Human Rights Commission


Today marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, when activists around the world come together to call for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence. The fact that this campaign bridges the gap between two significant international days – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) and International Human Rights Day (10 December) – is not a coincidence: the campaign dates were chosen to ‘emphasise that gender-based violence against women is a violation of human rights’.

Quote card for 16 Days of Activism about Discrimination and Violence and the International Labor Organisation's new treaty

This year’s 16 Days of Activism Campaign is focused on the new ILO Convention and Recommendation on violence and harassment in the world of work.

As such, this is a time to reflect on the role and responsibilities of human rights bodies in eliminating violence against women and girls, and the ways in which different bodies can work together to achieve change. 

One body that has been instrumental in developing the international human rights framework on violence against women and girls is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the body of experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Committee’s landmark 1992 General Recommendation on gender-based violence emphasised that such violence is a form of gender-based discrimination, and its more recent General Recommendation details the measures that States should take to eliminate violence against women and girls.

The CEDAW Committee also plays an important role in examining how effectively States are combating violence against women and girls through its periodic review process. For example, the Committee recently examined the UK’s compliance with CEDAW and published its recommendations in March 2019, which include a number of recommendations regarding the adequacy of the UK’s efforts to eradicate violence against women and girls.

As Great Britain’s NHRI, we were engaged throughout every stage of the UK’s recent review by the CEDAW Committee, including presenting written and oral evidence to inform and influence the Committee’s examination, supporting civil society organisations to submit information to the Committee, and sharing recommendations with the UK and Welsh Governments on how they can better meet their obligations.

We are now working to hold the UK and Welsh Governments to account for the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations. Last month we launched our online Human Rights Tracker, an innovative online tool to track the UN’s recommendations to the UK, including recommendations by the CEDAW Committee. We are encouraging a range of stakeholders – from civil society organisations to government officials – to use the tracker to monitor how well the UK is putting its international human rights obligations into practice.

Banner for Human Rights Tracker

We have also sought to strengthen the relationship between the CEDAW Committee and NHRIs more broadly, including working closely with GANHRI and other NHRIs to provide advice on the CEDAW Committee’s new paper on cooperation between the Committee and NHRIs. The paper recognises the ‘unique role’ that NHRIs can play in protecting and promoting the rights in CEDAW, including: encouraging States to reconsider reservations to CEDAW; contributing to the periodic reporting procedure; providing assistance to those using the individual communication procedure; and promoting the harmonisation of domestic law and policy with CEDAW.

The CEDAW Committee stated in its paper that it shares a common goal with NHRIs: to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by women and girls, free from any form of discrimination – including gender-based violence. As the 16 Days of Activism begin, we encourage all NHRIs to consider how to strengthen your engagement with the CEDAW Committee in order to amplify efforts to combat violence against women and girls.


Further Information about the EHRC's Human Rights Monitoring work is available here.