Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
The Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, in force since December 2000, extends the mechanisms to protect women's rights by means of the procedure of individual communications and by research. In this manner, the Protocol places the Convention in the same position as other international human rights agreements approved by the United Nations.
It is recognised that the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, constitutes the fundamental legal framework for the defense of the human rights of women throughout the world.
However, from the beginning of the 1990s, the extension of CEDAW protection mechanisms was called for and the Juridical and Social Commission for Women designated a work group to draw up a facultative Protocol to the Convention.
In December of 1999, the Protocol was opened for signature and ratification by the U.N. General Assembly. On December 22, 2000 it entered into force, three months after having ten States ratified it.
States which ratify the Convention may ratify the Protocol, but have no obligation to do so. The Protocol is of a facultative character, meaning it is optional. Up to January of 2003, 47 countries have ratified it and 35 countries signed it. We should underline that this juridical mechanism, under article 17, does not permit any kind of reservation.
The Facultative Protocol introduces new procedures for protection. From its entry into force, the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is competent to:
Receive, consider and review communications
Any victim, "person or group of persons" (Article 2), of a rights violation established by CEDAW, may request the Committee to determine whether the State has effectively infringed the Convention. The victim can only call upon the Committee after having "exhausted all internal juridical resources" (Article 4).
The Committee emits its conclusions and recommendations to the State in question.
The State must reply in writing within a period of six months to the Committee, informing it of the measures adopted in reply to the recommendations.
The Committee may initiate investigations in those countries where it suspects severe or systematical violation of women's rights as recognized by CEDAW are taking place.
The investigation can include a visit by one or more members of the Committee to the territory of the country in question, if justification exists and if the "party State provides its consent".
Party States who do not accept to be submitted to investigation procedures by the Committee may, in virtue of Article 10, declare this when ratifying, signing, or adhering to the Protocol.