United Nations human rights group adopts landmark text on women’s rights in conflicts

posted in: Africa

Lesotho women protesting violence against women at a National Women’s Day protest at National University of Lesotho
Photo: K. Kendall


New York, US– A key UN human rights body has provided authoritative guidance to countries that have ratified the women’s rights convention on measures they need to take to ensure that women’s rights are protected before, during and after conflicts.

A UN statement, obtained by PANA in New York on Wednesday, said: “States that have ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women are obliged to uphold women’s rights when they are involved in fighting”.

“The States are also expected to protect women’s rights when they are providing peacekeeping troops or donor assistance for conflict prevention, humanitarian aid or post-conflict reconstruction,” it said.

General Recommendation No. 30, adopted last week by the Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), said States parties should also exercise due diligence in ensuring that non-State actors, such as armed groups and private security contractors, be held accountable for crimes against women.

Ms. Nicole Ameline, the Chairperson of the 23-member Committee, stated: “This document is comprehensive. It includes recognition of women’s central role in preventing conflict and in rebuilding devastated countries”.

Ms. Ameline also said that “women’s experiences are regularly dismissed as irrelevant for predicting conflict, and women’s participation in conflict prevention has historically been low”.

“But in reality, there is, for example, a strong correlation between an increase in gender-based violence and the outbreak of conflict”.

“No longer is it enough to say that such acts are outside the scope of State responsibility of the Convention,” she stressed.

PANA learnt that the General Recommendation, drafted over a three-year period, spelt out States’ obligations under the Convention, including due diligence obligations to prevent,
investigate, punish and ensure redress for crimes against women by non-State actors.

CEDAW adopted the recommendation on 18 October, the same day the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2122, which stressed the importance of women’s involvement in conflict
prevention, resolution and peace-building.

Often described as an “international bill of rights for women”, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such