Support Ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Statement in Support of Ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)CEDAW Logo

Submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law
Senator Dick Durbin, Chair
November 13, 2010

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), U.S. Section commends the U.S. Government for the timely submission of its first Universal Periodic Report to the Human Rights Council and for its involvement of local and state governments in completing the report. The U.S. properly sent the highest level delegates to meet with the Council in Geneva for the review and was innovative in its attempts to make the review accessible and participatory for civil society groups in the U.S.

Recalling this demonstration of positive commitment to human rights, WILPF now calls upon the U.S. Senate to immediately ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was signed on behalf of the United States in 1980. The U.S. is the only country to sign and not ratify this important women’s human rights treaty.

As of today, 186 countries are state parties to the Convention.  By inviting states to take affirmative measures, the CEDAW Convention charts an agenda for action to ensure women’s rights to full participation in civic, political, economic, social, and cultural life, and to live free of gender-based violence in their private and public life, including in the context of armed conflict.


In line with these principles, the United States has affirmed Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on Women, Peace, Security, which both condemn gender and sexual violence in conflict and outline women’s critical role in crafting and sustaining viable conflict prevention and resolution strategies to lasting peace.  Neither goal can be achieved without a strong commitment to respecting and ensuring women’s human rights to participate as equal partners in constructing and reconstructing society.

 Like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the CEDAW Convention seeks to eliminate discrimination in order to protect human dignity and fulfill society’s potential to provide for the well being of all people.  Like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which the United States ratified in 1994, the CEDAW Convention aims to remedy inequality resulting from institutional policies and practices which either in effect or intentionally undercut equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The CEDAW Convention is an essential addition to both documents, as it shines a much-needed spotlight on the human rights of women and girls everywhere.

The CEDAW Convention provides an internationally-recognized framework to assist the United States in engaging with other countries, such as Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the United States will also benefit from implementing CEDAW’s provisions domestically.

By immediately ratifying CEDAW the United States can show that it is serious about its commitment to the world’s women and to constructive engagement with the governments of individual countries and through the United Nations.

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