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Garg, Tushaar --- "The Efficacy of Cedaw Reporting and Complaint Mechanisms" [2022] UNSWLawJlStuS 14; (2022) UNSWLJ Student Series No 22-14




There exists an unresolved tension in the application of human rights to the particular circumstances of women. I argue that an integral part of the modern feminist project is a robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework which will help clarify this tension on the path to equality. Therefore, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (‘CEDAW’) holds extreme significance as the current international framework for women’s rights. Although the broader human rights system propels inequality and is still dominated by men,[1] until it is overhauled, we must rely on it to effect timely change. I believe CEDAW has the potential to be the robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework we need to achieve equality. However, this relies largely on the efficacy of current national reporting and individual complaint mechanisms.

In Part II of this essay, I will explore the fight for equality and its pathway to international instruments such as CEDAW. Further, I briefly analyse the articles of the treaty and their practical meaning to women around the world. In Part III I assess the role of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (‘Committee’) and the treaty’s national reporting mechanism, which has one of the highest reporting compliance measures among United Nations (‘UN’) bodies. My judgement on this mechanism’s efficacy is guided by cases studies on Australia, Spain and other nations. I further investigate the enforcement of CEDAW in Part IV, through the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (‘OP-CEDAW’), assessing whether it is accessible and enforceable enough to give individual women the relief they need. Finally, I offer a solution in Part V, to the question of whether the efficacy of current reporting and complaints mechanisms is enough to finally achieve equality for women? In the realm of international law, and when faced with a problem as perennial as equality, the solution is often found in the middle ground between idealism and realism, which I hope this essay can contribute towards.


The domination of nearly all areas of life by men has long been an overwhelming reason for the specific recognition of women’s rights in international law. However, giving effect to such reason has encountered much resistance and I believe that even CEDAW fails to comprehensively deliver equality for women. In this section I explore the emergence of the women’s rights machine in the shadow of the Second World War, amidst the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (‘UDHR’). This momentum led to the Commission on the Status of Women (‘CSW’), CEDAW, OP-CEDAW and more recently the establishment of UN Women. However, the articles of CEDAW are still a cause for concern today and in this section, I assess their role in delivering the robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework we need.

In the early 20th century, liberal feminists began to publicly advocate for equality. In what was otherwise a period of social and economic emancipation in Western Europe, more limitations were being placed upon women. Progress was hindered by archetypal barriers such as the protective relationship between women and the law.[2] Otto provides examples, such as the laws of war, which specified women would be protected from an occupying power under their grouping as part of the male’s property.[3] Further, due to interference with their domestic responsibilities they were denied specific hard labour jobs and evening work.[4] These legal constraints in turn affected the social, political, economic and physical autonomy of women. Such constraints were challenged by the UDHR, which afforded women the same rights as men, prescribed according to the dignity and morality present within each human.[5] However, I argue that the universalism of such an approach is reductive and thus counterproductive in the fight for global equality. By relying on specific values, that are observed as universal from only a single lens, we ignore the different nationalities and cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic intersections which influence the world.[6] This renders the situations and landscapes of nearly half the world’s women as irrelevant.[7] This problem is exacerbated by many mainstream human rights frameworks and institutions ignoring the specific application of human rights to women.[8] Thus, it is not surprising that many states approached the international prohibition of sex discrimination as formal rather than substantive.[9] An early understanding that deep-seated issues of equality would render the UDHR moot for women led to the creation of the CSW in 1946.[10] However, a limited mandate and weak enforcement mechanisms led to minimal effectiveness. Although the CSW did draft many conventions and declarations, none more important than CEDAW.

CEDAW, also known as the “Women’s Convention”, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (‘GA’) on 18 December 1979 and came into effect on 3 September 1981. Together the articles of the treaty aim to enforce the principles of equality and respect for human dignity to denounce discrimination against women.[11] The treaty defines discrimination against women as the distinction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women of their fundamental freedoms.[12] This definition is aided by General Recommendation No 28, which specifies the inclusion of indirect discrimination: when the instrument has a discriminatory effect in practice, even when apparently neutral from the outset.[13] Art 2 goes further to place an obligation upon states to prohibit discrimination against women.[14] The treaty is comprehensive in its content as it touches on legislation change,[15] accelerated change,[16] political participation,[17] socioeconomic concerns,[18] disputes between states in relation to interpretation,[19] among many other areas. However, the key to CEDAW is its approach to other issues inherent to gender and law, such as intersectionality. The Committee defines this as the discrimination of women based on gender, which is exacerbated by other factors such as race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, among others.[20] States are obligated to legally recognise these intersecting forms of discrimination and their compounded effect.[21] This comprehensive approach combined with growing information and dialogue from the Committee presents CEDAW as the closest instrument to a robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework yet.

Unfortunately, many nations still hold significant reservations in relation to the treaty. Most reservations relate to Arts 2 and 16, as they purportedly go against many cultural practices.[22] McBeth, Nolan and Rice explore examples[23] such as India, who placed a reservation against Art 16(2), as it does not support the compulsory registration of marriage, stating it is not practical due to a variety of customs and poor literacy levels.[24] Further, Saudi Arabia have allowed reservations for any laws that are incompatible with Islamic law.[25] Many more rely on the argument of cultural practices being incompatible with CEDAW, which suggests cultural relativism is a sound excuse to evade the efficacy of the treaty. I understand this to be a small battle in the war which cultural relativists wage on the universality of human rights. Whilst I earlier denounced the value of universalism in relation to international women’s rights, here I argue it is significant. This is because agreeing to the basic dignity and morality within all people is an essential aspect of baseline equality. As such, it results in far worse outcomes for women when rights are resisted based on cultural values, than accepted, knowing that they are yet to progress to acknowledge concepts such as intersectionality. The resistance here is often to these rights being grounded in the “Western” Enlightenment and thus being tainted by imperialism. However, most ancient Western religious and philosophical doctrines reject or ignore human rights, as ancient Asian and African values do.[26] Thus the concept of human rights was not initially conceived due to a similarity to Western values but social, political and economic transformation which the West was predisposed to; making the cultural resistance not to Western values, but more so to modern values.[27] Over time, nations such as Japan, South Africa and South Korea, among others, have adopted human rights as a contemporary political expression of their deepest cultural values.[28] Hence, the reservations on the basis of cultural practices are often misguided and deliver worse outcomes for women within the nation. Further, reservations are substantial enough to defeat the purpose of the treaty, and thus present a large hurdle to CEDAW becoming a robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework.


The CEDAW Committee is responsible for state compliance with the treaty through a plethora of mechanisms aiming to enforce equality of rights.[29] Although these mechanisms now operate smoothly, with a high level of state compliance, the question stands as to whether they adequately enforce the international women’s rights framework? In this section I will explore these reporting mechanisms and their role in the implementation of international law. Using case studies of recent reports, I will engage with the practical impact of these mechanisms and their contribution to international, regional and national development.

The CEDAW Committee is a body of independent experts from nations who have ratified the treaty. The Committee consists of 23 members elected for 4-year terms on alternating cycles.[30] Election is conducted by secret ballot and determined by who obtains the most votes from representatives of State parties, with members allowed to be re-elected multiple times.[31] A total of 151 experts have served as members of the Committee since 1982 and today the body is chaired by Gladys Acosta Vargas of Peru.[32] Under Art 18, parties to the treaty must provide a report every 4 years to the Committee, or upon request. This allows a regular and constructive dialogue to be maintained, which plays a significant role in the implementation of international law. The Committee was created to consider the progress made in the implementation of the treaty,[33] primarily through the reports of state parties, however it has now extended to being a knowledge centre on issues relating to women’s rights through its plethora of communications. Finally, OP-CEDAW gives the Committee oversight of individual complaints brought in against States as well as the ability to investigate serious or systemic violations of CEDAW.[34]

The approach to preparation of reports by state parties significantly contributes to the efficacy of mechanisms in creating a robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework. An open and thorough process should assist states in detecting problems, collecting information and for policy planning.[35] The Australian approach to CEDAW and reporting has been largely consistent and yielded real change at a domestic level. As such, when Australia ratified CEDAW it did so with a reservation in respect of Art 11(2)(b), relating to the introduction of uniform maternity leave with pay and relevant benefits.[36] This reservation came from a practical standpoint, as substantial paid maternity leave was yet to be standardised across the private sector. By 2009 only 39% of Australian women in the labour force had access to paid maternity leave and when employed in labour or sales work, less than 21% had access.[37] Although public pressure had grown to considerable levels by this stage, the Committee had recognised the reservation and political impasse years earlier. In 2004 the Committee highlighted the lack of uniform paid maternity leave in response to the Australian state party report.[38] Evidently, Australia was maintaining the stance earlier expressed through reservation towards Art 11(2)(b), which again the Committee highlighted as inadequate for a progressive nation such as Australia. In response, the Government noted that it had referred the issue to the Productivity Commission[39] and in 2009 announced the introduction of a paid parental leave scheme, to be rolled out by 2011. The Committee continued to press the issue, then communicating its criticisms of the scheme,[40] involving issues with superannuation which perpetuated the significant gender gap in savings and wealth for women. The global pressure which the reporting process initiated in relation to paid maternity leave was instrumental for women’s rights in Australia.[41] However, the reservation towards the implementation of Art 11(2)(b) still stands, despite Australia having removed a reservation relating to “combat-related” employment of women in armed forces in 2018.[42]

Yet reliance on constructive dialogue faces similar issues of slowness and repetition that the remainder of international law does. In the case of Spain, although reporting is detailed and highly comprehensive, it is often “more self-indulgent than critical”.[43] In relation to human trafficking, Spain has made incremental differences at the request of the Committee. However after two decades of dialogue they are yet to implement any comprehensive legislation. As the “centre of prostitution in Europe” many girls and women are forced into the industry after being trafficked into Spain.[44] Details about prostitution were mentioned in Spain’s first periodic report in 1985, but it was not until the ‘90s when Spain linked this to human trafficking and began to legislate to punish trafficking. In 2003 the issue came further into the spotlight as an increasing number of women and girls were trafficked into the country.[45] The Committee responded by requesting greater levels of international cooperation, victim protection, law enforcement and stronger legislative action.[46] In its combined 7th and 8th periodic report presented in 2013, Spain responded through instruments such as the Integral Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, police plans, increased data analysis of victims and other measures.[47] However, the most recent communication from the Committee states that Spain still “lacks comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that addresses all forms of trafficking.”[48] Furthermore, it lacks sufficient international cooperation to tackle the issue, fails to collect appropriate deep data on the issue, does not have sufficient shelters to house girls and women caught in the industry or a comprehensive definition of “pimping”, among many other criticisms.[49] Regular communication and review for two decades, including the Committee’s most recent pre-emptive communication,[50] has failed to make meaningful change in Spain. Unfortunately, at the present time, based on the available evidence, I am left to conclude that the dangers of trafficking and prostitution will continue to devastate the lives of many girls and women in Spain.

Other nations further showcase the failure of CEDAW as an international women’s rights framework. I argue issues with enforceability predicated on constructive dialogue, pressure from nations and other cooperatives such as NGOs as well as international shaming are inadequate in the pursuit of a robust and enforceable framework. Hence, the UK has taken a gender-neutral approach to discrimination policy, which will one day undermine affirmative discrimination through measures such as quotas, no matter how many times the Committee warns of this. In Zimbabwe, ideological, political and religious differences to treaties such as CEDAW cannot be overcome at a local level despite ratification of the instrument. Whilst India continues to avoid Committee questioning in relation to the narrow definition of statutory rape which fails to include specific forms of penetrative sexual assault. Overall, the Committee’s inability to overcome state unwillingness and create timely change means the periodic reporting mechanism is inadequate to support a robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework essential for equality.


The introduction of an individual reporting mechanism to CEDAW under the Optional Protocol to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was ideologically important as it gave individuals direct protection under the international women’s rights framework. However, questions of accessibility, admissibility, and contrast to broader feminist goals of systemic change have brought the efficacy of the mechanism into question. I compare the significance of individual standing in this section to its implicit hurdles, as I question whether the CEDAW complaint mechanism is robust enough to enforce the international women’s rights framework? Cases such as Karen Tayag Vertido v The Philippines and L.C. v Peru, will be used as case studies to explore the individual complaint mechanism, which I argue is only a steppingstone to true efficacy, and equality.

OP-CEDAW was introduced almost 20 years after CEDAW first came into effect and replicates individual complaint mechanisms of other major UN treaties. The optional protocol was adopted by the GA in 1999 and came into force on 22 December 2000, with 125 nations having now at least signed. Under OP-CEDAW any individual or group whose rights under the treaty have been violated by, or within, a signatory nation may bring in an action in front of the Committee.[51] However, to be admissible the action must be; in writing and not anonymous,[52] relate to the conduct of a state party to the treaty,[53] relate to a violation that occurred after the relevant state ratified the treaty,[54] not have been examined already by the Committee or currently under consideration by another committee[55] and sufficiently substantial.[56] Further, the complaint cannot be examined until all domestic remedies have been exhausted, unless they are unlikely to bring effective relief.[57] The complaint is considered by the Committee privately and both the nation and complainant are called upon for comment before the Committee adopts its findings. Unfortunately, these views are only recommendations and not legally binding.[58] However, nations who have ratified CEDAW have an obligation and political commitment to give consideration to the views of the Committee.[59] Further, within 6 months the nation needs to have considered such views and inform the Committee of specific remediation and other actions.[60] I consider the ability of the Committee to ask questions of the perpetrating nations, through publicly displayed communication, a strong enforcement mechanism in this day and age as (at least most democratic) governments cannot risk unsupportive stances in relation to gender discrimination issues. However, often communications are found to be inadmissible, and even when there is a decision made by the Committee, enforcement has proved difficult.[61]

In the case of Karen Tayag Vertido v The Philippines, the complainant found relief through the Committee after domestic courts had incorrectly relied on gender-based myths and stereotypes. The complaint was based on the rape of Vertido when she was working in the Davo City Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines in 1996. One evening, following a late meeting, the President of the Chamber, Jose B. Custodio offered to drop Vertido home but then proceeded to sexually assault her in his car. Vertido had felt a gun in Custodio’s jacket and thus was unable to resist his advances or escape. They eventually reached a nearby motel and following a brief altercation and resistance Vertido found herself regaining consciousness to Custodio brutally raping her. She filed a complaint with the police within days and had a medical assessment which supported her allegations.[62] Yet after 8 years in courts, the accused was acquitted due to insufficient evidence. Subsequently, Vertido submitted a complaint to the Committee as her right to; non-discrimination,[63] effective remedy[64] and freedom from gender stereotyping[65] had been violated. The Committee found that the Philippines courts had relied on gender-based myths and stereotypes such as Vertido’s eventual submission to the act, her lack of attempt to escape and the opinion that she was not a “timid woman who could easily be cowed,” among other things, as substantial evidence in their decision.[66] The Committee concluded that due to the existence of significant gender stereotyping in the legal process the Philippines had violated articles (2)(c), 2(f) and 5(a) of CEDAW. Labelled a “leading decision”,[67] the matter was globally rejoiced and still attracts significant legal scholarship today. However, what the plethora of journal articles, cases studies in books, NGO websites fail to illuminate is whether Vertido finally achieved relief. She did not. Giving a speech in 2013, Vertido stated the government had not enforced the decision,[68] upon the same grounds which the Philippines argued during the Committee’s consideration process.[69] In 2021, it was noted that some discussion in parliament had begun for a resolution to follow the Committee’s recommendations and coordinated efforts of concerned agencies were ongoing to provide Vertido relief.[70] Although this case allowed for the growth of international jurisprudence, it failed to deliver effective relief to Vertido, and I foresee will fail to deliver relief for many women around the world. The lack of domestic enforceability for the international women’s rights framework, unfortunately means, it is unsurprising that after 26 years Vertido is still yet to gain relief.

In contrast, the case of L.C. v Peru saw policy change following the severe medical repercussions a young girl suffered after she was refused an abortion. In 2006, the complainant, covered by the pseudonym “L.C.”, was sexually abused by a 34-year-old man and in a state of depression attempted to commit suicide by jumping from a building. L.C. suffered severe injuries and required immediate surgery as she presented a risk of permanent disability.[71] However, in the days leading up to surgery it was discovered she was pregnant and thus surgery was postponed. Although, termination of pregnancy is legal in Peru,[72] and the abortion was supported by a report from the High-Level Commission on Reproductive Health of the Medical College of Peru, the hospital refused as they concluded her life was not in danger. Further, doctors feared legal repercussions, telling L.C.’s mother: “We can’t senora. That is a criminal offence.”[73] Whilst attempting to appeal the decision, L.C. spontaneously miscarried and the surgery was performed. The approximately 4-month long delay in surgery contributed to the complainant’s current state of complete paralysis from the neck down. As there were no appropriate judicial mechanisms to provide redress, the Committee received a complaint that the refusal by the doctors at the hospital to perform the therapeutic abortion violated the rights of L. C. under CEDAW.[74] The Committee found that the State party discriminated in refusing to legally provide for the performance of reproductive health services for L.C., and further that delaying surgery was influenced by the stereotype that the health of the foetus was more important than the mothers, among other issues.[75] There is criticism of this decision based on inadequate assessment by the Committee of equality in health and poor analysis of what equal access should look like.[76] However, this case resulted in domestic action as the Peruvian Ministry of Health adopted new abortion guidelines in 2014, which provide a technical guideline which is touted to assist the health, rights and life of women in Peru.[77] In this instance, relief was provided to the complainant and the overarching goals of equality for women were furthered by a receptive government who positively engaged in the dialogue with the Committee.

I believe the primary concern with OP-CEDAW as an individual complaint mechanism is its unenforceability which renders it “law without sanction”.[78] In effect this means decisions such as Vertido v The Philippines and many others are nothing more than a comment from the Committee which, although globally agreed upon, are highly unenforceable. This draws similarity to the Committee’s periodic national reporting mechanism, which must rely on constructive dialogue, international pressures and public shaming to enforce change. The limitations in enforcement have many suggesting that CEDAW and OP-CEDAW should be considered cultural rather than legal tools in the pursuit of equality for women.[79] Furthermore, these mechanisms are not accessible to the average woman who has had her rights violated, as the pathway to submitting your own complaint is complex and the resources to do this or even exhaust all domestic legal options are difficult to ascertain. The underenforcement, inadmissibility and inaccessibility of the individual complaint mechanism “erodes the integrity of the Convention as a rights-guaranteeing instrument and undermines the confidence of women and civil society who engage with [CEDAW].”[80] However, I think of these issues in the context of the archetypal difficulties of international law and change. For example, any of the Permanent 5 nations (‘P5’) could theoretically partake in genocide without the UN Security Council being able to activate any form of military or non-military intervention because of the veto power. Therefore, it is important to contextualise the struggle which faces international women’s rights. In over 75 years of UN structures and instruments, significant political, economic and social change has taken place. Similarly, CEDAW and OP-CEDAW have socially mobilised the world in relation to women’s right with only constructive dialogue in its arsenal. Yet to establish the robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework we need on the path to equality for women, these mechanisms must now do more.


The modern feminist project considers what constitutes equality for women and the pathway to achieve it.[81] As I mentioned earlier, my goal was not to explain what equality for women looks like but assess whether CEDAW was playing its role in the journey towards equality, which necessitates a robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework. Thus, my question was whether the efficacy of current reporting and complaints mechanisms are enough to one day achieve equality? Over 40 years there has been ample change and transformation at the hands of CEDAW, however, I argue it is not enough to achieve equality. The international women’s rights framework suffers at the hands of unenforceable and inaccessible national reporting and individual complaint mechanisms. As such, unless these mechanisms are strengthened, many women such as those who are trafficked into Spain and Vertido in the Philippines, will continue to suffer the grave consequences of inequality.

I agree that whilst derision and cynicism towards the international women’s rights framework is understandable, it will not help give relief to those Spanish women or Vertido. Instead, in the realm of international law and when faced with a problem as perennial as equality for women, the solution needs to find a middle ground between idealism and realism. Thus, in relation to the accessibility of the individual complaint mechanism I suggest practical changes that can assist the average woman understand the complaint process as well as have the confidence to proceed. Firstly, there needs to be access to an expedited assessment process in cases which require it, involving direct communications to the Committee, regional partners who can refer cases which need timely relief and the use of non-legal, unenforceable summary judgements prior to the private consideration process. Secondly, access to funding from the Committee to initially begin proceedings for women who are likely to have a sufficient case to raise is imperative. Although many NGOs and NFPs are working in the space, their resources are often limited, and they are not comprehensive in their ability to detect substantial cases. Finally, in relation to the issues of enforceability which plague both the reporting and complaint mechanism, it is time for the Committee to ask for more. For example, in the case of the political stalemate which faces the UN Security Council, nations have begun to ask for a system which would remove the right of the P5 to veto resolutions involving genocide and gross violations of human rights, which has now gained global support.[82] Similarly, I ask for a lot in suggesting accountability by Heads of States, or relevant cabinet ministers, for unenforced recommendations of the Committee in nations who have ratified the treaty. This would make Committee decisions in reports and complaints justiciable under either the International Criminal Court or International Court of Justice, creating a direct enforceability mechanism towards the executive of a country. This would require an extension of jurisdiction for these courts and the creation of a rule to enforce Committee recommendations in a timely and acceptable manner. Whilst this may seem radical, it is in actuality what nations agree to when ratifying the treaty. I believe that after 40 years of progress under CEDAW, accentuated by OP-CEDAW, the only way to create a robust and enforceable international women’s rights framework, and one day achieve equality, is through radical enforcement measures. It is the only way to grant Vertido her “dream [of] a world that is gentler and kinder to women; a better world for everyone.”[83]

[1] Kathleen Mahoney, ‘Theoretical Perspectives on Women’s Human Rights and Strategies for Their Implementation’ (1996) 21(3) Brooklyn Journal of International Law 799, 838.

[2] Dianne Otto, ‘Women’s Rights’ in Daniel Moeckli, Sangeeta Shah and Sandesh Sivakumaran (eds), International Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2018) 345, 348.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Adam McBeth, Justine Nolan and Simon Rice, The International Law of Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2017) 63.

[6] Hilary Charlesworth, ‘Feminist Methods in International Law’ 93(2) (1999) The American Journal of International Law 379, 383.

[7] Ibid.

[8] McBeth, Nolan and Rice (n 5) 528.

[9] Otto (n 2) 349.

[10] Elizabeth Evatt, ‘Finding a Voice for Women’s Rights: The Early Days of CEDAW’ (2002) 34(3) The George Washington International Law Review 515, 515.

[11] Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, opened for signature 1 March 1980, 1249 UNTS 13 (entered into force 3 September 1981) Preamble (‘CEDAW’).

[12] Ibid art 1.

[13] Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation No 28 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, UN Doc CEDAW/C/2010/47/ GC.2 (2010) para 5.

[14] CEDAW art 2.

[15] Ibid art 3.

[16] Ibid art 4.

[17] Ibid art 7.

[18] Ibid art 10-13.

[19] Ibid art 29.

[20] CEDAW Committee, General Recommendation No 28 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, UN Doc CEDAW/C/2010/47/ GC.2 (2010) para 18.

[21] CEDAW Committee, General Recommendation No 28 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, UN Doc CEDAW/C/2010/47/ GC.2 (2010) para 18.

[22] McBeth, Nolan and Rice (n 5) 543.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Declarations, reservations, objections and notifications of withdrawal of reservations relating to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW, 15th sess, Agenda Item 6, UN Doc CEDAW/SP/2008/2 (19 May 2008).

[25] Ibid.

[26] Jack Donnelly, ‘The Relative Universality of Human Rights’ (2007) 29(2) Human Rights Quarterly 281, 290.

[27] Ibid 287.

[28] Ibid 290.

[29] CEDAW Preamble.

[30] CEDAW art 17.

[31] Ibid.

[32] UN Human Rights – Office of the High Commissioner, Membership – Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Web Page) <>.

[33] CEDAW art 17.

[34] OP-CEDAW art 8.

[35] Ruth Abril Stoffels, ‘The Role of the CEDAW Committee in the Implementation of Public Policies on Gender Issues’ (2019) 23(8) The International Journal of Human Rights 1317, 1318.

[36] Declarations, reservations, objections and notifications of withdrawal of reservations relating to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW, 15th sess, Agenda Item 6, UN Doc CEDAW/SP/2008/2 (19 May 2008).

[37] David Baker, ‘Maternity Leave and Reduced Future Earning Capacity’, Australian Government – Australian Institute of Family Studies (Web Page, December 2011) <>.

[38] Concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Australia, CEDAW Committee, 34th sess, UN Doc CEDAW/C/AUS/CO/5 (3 February 2006).

[39] Responses to the List of Issues and Questions with Regard to the Consideration of the Combined Sixth and Seventh Periodic Reports, CEDAW Committee, 46th sess, UN Doc CEDAW/C/AUS/Q/7/Add.1 (29 January 2010).

[40] Concluding observation of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW Committee, 46th sess, UN Doc CEDAW/C/AUS/CO/7 (30 July 2010).

[41] Andrew Byrnes, ‘The Implementation of the CEDAW Convention in Australia’ in Anne Hellum and Henriette Sinding Aasen (eds), Women’s Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

[42] Secretary-General – Depositary Notification, UN Doc C.N.592.2018.TREATIES-IV.8 (14 December 2018).

[43] Stoffels (n 35) 1326.

[44] Ibid 1329.

[45] Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report – Spain (11 June 2003).

[46] Concluding observation of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW Committee, 46th sess, UN Doc CEDAW/C/ESP/CO/6 (7 August 2009) 5 [21].

[47] Consideration of reports submitted to State parties under article 18 of the Convention – Seventh and eight periodic reports of State parties to be presented in 2013 to the CEDAW Committee, UN Doc CEDAW/C/ESP/7-8 (17 December 2013) 15 [95].

[48] List of issues and questions prior to the submission of the ninth periodic report of Spain, CEDAW Committee, UN Doc CEDAW/C/ESP/QPR/9 (19 August 2019) 4 [11].

[49] Stoffels (n 35) 1330.

[50] List of issues and questions prior to the submission of the ninth periodic report of Spain, CEDAW Committee, UN Doc CEDAW/C/ESP/QPR/9 (19 August 2019) 4 [11].

[51] OP-CEDAW art 2.

[52] Ibid art 3.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid art 4(2)(e).

[55] Ibid art 4(2)(a).

[56] Ibid art 4(2)(c).

[57] Ibid art 4(1).

[58] Ibid art 7.

[59] Ibid art 7(4).

[60] Ibid art 7.

[61] McBeth, Nolan and Rice (n 5) 550.

[62] CEDAW Committee, Views: Communication No 18/2008, 46th sess, UN Doc CEDAW/C/46/D/18/2008 (22 September 2010) 3 [2.2] (‘Vertido v The Philippines’).

[63] CEDAW arts 2(c)-(d).

[64] Ibid art 2(f).

[65] Ibid art 5(a).

[66] Vertido v The Philippines, UN Doc CEDAW/C/46/D/18/2008 (22 September 2010) 15 [8.5].

[67] Simone Cusack and Alexandra S. H. Timmer, ‘Gender Stereotyping in Rape Cases: The CEDAW Committee’s Decision in Vertido v The Philippines’ (2011) 11(2) Human Rights Laws Review 329, 330.

[68] Karen Tayang Vertido, ‘Access to Justice’ (Speech, CEDAW Committee General Day of Discussion, February 2013) <>.

[69] Vertido v The Philippines, UN Doc CEDAW/C/46/D/18/2008 (22 September 2010) 10 [4.2].

[70] Ninth periodic report submitted by the Philippines under article 18 of the Convention, due in 2020 to the CEDAW Committee, UN Doc CEDAW/C/PHL/9 (4 October 2021).

[71] CEDAW Committee, Views: Communication No 22/2009, 15th sess, UN Doc CEDAW/C/50/D/22/2009 (4 November 2011) 3 [2.1] (‘L.C. v Peru’).

[72] L.C. v Peru, UN Doc CEDAW/C/50/D/22/2009 (4 November 2011) 3 [2.5].

[73] Amanda Klasing, ‘Dispatches: New Abortion Rules in Peru’, Human Rights Watch (Web Page, 1 July 2014) <>.

[74] CEDAW arts 1-3, 5, 12, 16.

[75] L.C. v Peru, UN Doc CEDAW/C/50/D/22/2009 (4 November 2011) 16 [8.6].

[76] Meghan Campbell, ‘Women’s Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women: Unlocking the Potential of the Optional Protocol’ (2016) 34(4) Nordic Journal of Human Rights 247, 263.

[77] Klasing (n 73).

[78] Sally Engle Merry, ‘Transnational Human Rights and Local Activism: Mapping the Middle’ (2006) 108(1) American Anthropologist 38, 39.

[79] Catherine O'Rourke, 'Bridging the Enforcement Gap - Evaluating the Inquiry Procedure of the CEDAW Optional Protocol' (2018) 27(1) American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 1, 6.

[80] Ibid 23.

[81] Mahoney (n 1) 799.

[82] Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United Nations New York, List of Supporters of the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, as elaborated by ACT (1 January 2019).

[83] Karen Tayang Vertido, ‘Access to Justice’ (Speech, CEDAW Committee General Day of Discussion, February 2013) <>.

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