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Pritzker Legal Research Center


International Law: Women's Rights

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is an international human rights treaty that defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets out measures that states must undertake to end discrimination against women. Often recognized as "an international bill of rights for women," the Convention was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and entered into force on 3 September 1981. 

The Optional Protocol, which includes both a communications (complaints) procedure and an inquiry procedure, entered into force on 22 December 2000. 

Commentaries on the CEDAW

Scholarly commentaries provide article-by-article analysis of a convention, including citations to relevant cases, general comments, concluding observations, travaux préparatoires (preparatory works), and other documents. 

CEDAW Committee

CEDAW Committee monitors implementation of the CEDAW by State parties. The website for the Committee provides access to general recommendations, state party reports, concluding observations, and other materials. 

General RecommendationsThe CEDAW Committee publishes general recommendations that offer interpretations of the provisions in the convention.

​State Party Reports: State party reports are submitted by state parties to the Committee to describe the efforts they have made or problems they have encountered when implementing the treaty's provisions. 

Concluding Observations: Concluding observations consist of observations and recommendations issued by the Committee after consideration of a state party's report. These include recommendations for how a State should take further action to implement the treaty. 

Jurisprudence: CEDAW Committee may consider individual communications alleging violations of the CEDAW.

Other UN Human Rights Treaties & Treaty Bodies

Other international treaties also provide protection for the rights of women. For a detailed overview and research guidance for the core UN human rights instruments (e.g., ICCPR, ICESR, etc.), see the PLRC International Human Rights Law Research Guide.

Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council