Legally binding obligations to fight violence against women and girls

Orange Day BannerOn this Orange Day to witness and work for an end to violence against women and girls, here’s a proposal for another step in that effort.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur* on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, has called for the creation of a legally binding framework on violence against women and girls within the UN human rights system.

This legal instrument would provide a clear, normative framework for the protection of women and girls in order to ensure that States are held accountable to humanitarian standards that are legally binding. A monitoring body would be developed in conjunction with this framework in order to provide in-depth analysis of general and country-level developments, as well as educate states and individuals on the diverse manifestations of violence against women and girls.

There currently exist implementing mechanisms and relevant jurisprudence regarding violence against women in three regional human rights systems: the African, European, and Inter-American systems. Manjoo remarks:

While the three regional human rights systems are to be commended for having developed legally binding instruments on women’s rights and/or violence against women and set up, or being on the eve of setting up, monitoring mechanisms, their effectiveness is uneven and some face specific challenges…

For a transformative change to take place, Manjoo has said that words and actions of States must reflect an acknowledgement that violence against women is a human rights violation. This official recognition would reflect a commitment on behalf of the States to be bound by specific legal obligations that would prevent and eliminate such violence.
Here is the Special Rapporteur’s report.

*The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.


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