Optional Protocol - What's in
Optional protocol to CEDAW
Courtesy of: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/protocol
What's in it?
The draft optional protocol
incorporates the features of existing UN complaints procedures. It also
incorporates some of the practices of other UN treaty bodies that have
developed as their complaints procedures have been used.
The preamble is the introductory part of the Protocol which sets out
the object and purpose of the Protocol. It refers to the principles
of equality and non-discrimination as embodied in the UN Charter, the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international human
rights instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women. It reaffirms the
determination of States parties which adopt the protocol to ensure the
full and equal enjoyment by women of all human rights and fundamental
freedoms and to take effective action to prevent violations of these
rights and freedoms."
Establishes that States who become parties to the optional protocol
recognise the competence of the Committee to receive and consider
communications under the protocol.
Provides a Communications Procedure which allows either individuals or
groups of individuals to submit individual complaints to the Committee.
Communications may also be submitted on behalf of individuals or groups of
individuals, with their consent, unless it can be shown why that consent
was not received.
Establishes that a communication will only be considered by the Committee
if it concerns a country that has become party to the protocol. In
addition, a communication must be submitted in writing and may not be
Stipulates admissibility criteria of communications. Before a
complaint is considered, the Committee must determine that all available
domestic remedies have been exhausted and the complaint is not, nor has
been examined by the Committee or has been or is being examined under
another procedure of international investigation or settlement. In
addition, a complaint will only be admissible provided the complaint is
compatible with the provisions of the Convention; is not an abuse of the
right to submit a communication; the claimants' allegations can be
substantiated, and the facts presented occurred after the State party
ratified the Protocol.
After receipt of a communication and prior to its final decision, the
Committee has the option of contacting the State Party with an urgent
request that the State Party take steps to protect the alleged victim or
victims from irreparable harm.
Establishes the communications procedure. Where a communication has been
found admissible, the Committee will confidentially bring a communication
to the attention of the State Party, provided the complaint has consented
to disclosure of their identity to the State Party. The State Party is
given six months to provide a written explanation or statement to the
Outlines the process of complaint consideration. The Committee will
examine and consider all information provided by a complaint in closed
meetings. The Committee's views and recommendations will be transmitted to
the parties concerned. The State Party has six months to consider the
views of the Committee and provide a written response, including remedial
steps taken. The Committee may request further information from the State
Party, including in subsequent reports.
Establishes an inquiry
procedure that allows the Committee to initiate a confidential
investigation by one or more of its members where it has received reliable
information of grave or systematic violations by a State Party of rights
established in the Convention. Where warranted and with the consent of the
State Party, the Committee may visit the territory of the State Party. Any
findings, comments or recommendations will be transmitted to the State
Party concerned, to which it may respond within six months.
Establishes a follow-up procedure for the Committee. After the six-month
period referred to in article 8, the State Party may be invited to provide
the Committee with details of any remedial efforts taken following an
inquiry. Details may also be provided in the State Party report to the
Committee under article 18 of the Convention.
Provides an opt-out
clause. At ratification of the Optional Protocol, a State Party has the
option of refusing to recognize the competence of the Committee to
initiate and conduct an inquiry as established under articles 8 and 9.
However, this declaration may be withdrawn at a later time.
Requires a State Party to
ensure the protection of those submitting communications.
A summary of the Committee's activities relating to the Protocol will be
included under article 21 of the Convention.
Establishes a requirement
that States Parties widely publicize the Convention and its Protocol and
provide access to the views and recommendations of the Committee.
Requires the Committee to develop its own rules of procedure when dealing
with communications and inquiries considered in accordance with the
Governs eligibility for
States to sign, ratify or accede to the Protocol. Any State Party that is
party to the Convention may become party to the Protocol.
Establishes that a minimum of ten
countries must have ratified or acceded to the Protocol before the
Protocol enters into force. The Protocol will enter into force three
months after the 10th ratification or accession.
Provides that there shall be no reservations to the Protocol.
Establishes procedures for
amending the Protocol. Any State Party may suggest amendments to be sent
to the Secretary-General of the United Nations to be communicated to all
States Parties to the Protocol. If requested by a minimum of one-third of
States Parties, a conference may be convened to discuss and vote on any
amendments. With the support of a two-thirds majority and the General
Assembly, an amendment comes into force and is binding on States that have
accepted the amendments.
Provides for a State Party
to withdraw from the Protocol by written notification to the
Secretary-General. Withdrawal will not impact any communications submitted
prior to the effective date of withdrawal.
States that the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform
States of signatures, ratifications and accessions, the date the Protocol
comes into force and any amendments and withdrawals.
Provides that the Protocol
will be deposited in the United Nations archives, made available in
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish and sent to all
States Parties by the Secretary General.
Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination
Discrimination against Women
by General Assembly resolution A/54/4 on 6 October 1999
and opened for signature
on 10 December 1999, Human Rights Day
The States Parties to the present
Noting that the Charter of
the United Nations reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights, in the
dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and
Also noting that the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Resolution 217 A (III). proclaims
that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and
that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth
therein, without distinction of any kind, including distinction based on
Recalling that the
International Covenants on Human Rights Resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
and other international human rights instruments prohibit discrimination
on the basis of sex,
Also recalling the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women4 (“the Convention”), in which the States Parties thereto
condemn discrimination against women in all its forms and agree to
pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of
eliminating discrimination against women,
determination to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by women of all
human rights and fundamental freedoms and to take effective action to
prevent violations of these rights and freedoms,
Have agreed as follows:
A State Party to the present
Protocol (“State Party”) recognizes the competence of the Committee
on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (“the Committee”)
to receive and consider communications submitted in accordance with
Communications may be submitted by
or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals, under the
jurisdiction of a State Party, claiming to be victims of a violation of
any of the rights set forth in the Convention by that State Party. Where
a communication is submitted on behalf of individuals or groups of
individuals, this shall be with their consent unless the author can
justify acting on their behalf without such consent.
Communications shall be in writing
and shall not be anonymous. No communication shall be received by the
Committee if it concerns a State Party to the Convention that is not a
party to the present Protocol.
1. The Committee shall not consider a
communication unless it has ascertained that all available domestic
remedies have been exhausted unless the application of such remedies is
unreasonably prolonged or unlikely to bring effective relief.
2. The Committee shall declare a
communication inadmissible where:
(a) The same matter has already
been examined by the Committee or has been or is being examined under
another procedure of international investigation or settlement;
(b) It is incompatible with the
provisions of the Convention;
(c) It is manifestly ill-founded
or not sufficiently substantiated;
(d) It is an abuse of the right to
submit a communication;
(e) The facts that are the subject
of the communication occurred prior to the entry into force of the
present Protocol for the State Party concerned unless those facts
continued after that date.
1. At any time after the receipt of a
communication and before a determination on the merits has been reached,
the Committee may transmit to the State Party concerned for its urgent
consideration a request that the State Party take such interim measures
as may be necessary to avoid possible irreparable damage to the victim
or victims of the alleged violation.
2. Where the Committee exercises its
discretion under paragraph 1 of the present article, this does not imply
a determination on admissibility or on the merits of the communication.
1. Unless the Committee considers a
communication inadmissible without reference to the State Party
concerned, and provided that the individual or individuals consent to
the disclosure of their identity to that State Party, the Committee
shall bring any communication submitted to it under the present Protocol
confidentially to the attention of the State Party concerned.
2. Within six months, the receiving
State Party shall submit to the Committee written explanations or
statements clarifying the matter and the remedy, if any, that may have
been provided by that State Party.
1. The Committee shall consider
communications received under the present Protocol in the light of all
information made available to it by or on behalf of individuals or
groups of individuals and by the State Party concerned, provided that
this information is transmitted to the parties concerned.
2. The Committee shall hold closed
meetings when examining communications under the present Protocol.
3. After examining a communication, the
Committee shall transmit its views on the communication, together with
its recommendations, if any, to the parties concerned.
4. The State Party shall give due
consideration to the views of the Committee, together with its
recommendations, if any, and shall submit to the Committee, within six
months, a written response, including information on any action taken in
the light of the views and recommendations of the Committee.
5. The Committee may invite the State
Party to submit further information about any measures the State Party
has taken in response to its views or recommendations, if any, including
as deemed appropriate by the Committee, in the State Party’s
subsequent reports under article 18 of the Convention.
1. If the Committee receives reliable
information indicating grave or systematic violations by a State Party
of rights set forth in the Convention, the Committee shall invite that
State Party to cooperate in the examination of the information and to
this end to submit observations with regard to the information
2. Taking into account any observations
that may have been submitted by the State Party concerned as well as any
other reliable information available to it, the Committee may designate
one or more of its members to conduct an inquiry and to report urgently
to the Committee. Where warranted and with the consent of the State
Party, the inquiry may include a visit to its territory.
3. After examining the findings of such
an inquiry, the Committee shall transmit these findings to the State
Party concerned together with any comments and recommendations.
4. The State Party concerned shall,
within six months of receiving the findings, comments and
recommendations transmitted by the Committee, submit its observations to
5. Such an inquiry shall be conducted
confidentially and the cooperation of the State Party shall be sought at
all stages of the proceedings.
1. The Committee may invite the State
Party concerned to include in its report under article 18 of the
Convention details of any measures taken in response to an inquiry
conducted under article 8 of the present Protocol.
2. The Committee may, if necessary,
after the end of the period of six months referred to in article 8.4,
invite the State Party concerned to inform it of the measures taken in
response to such an inquiry.
1. Each State Party may, at the time of
signature or ratification of the present Protocol or accession thereto,
declare that it does not recognize the competence of the Committee
provided for in articles 8 and 9.
2. Any State Party having made a
declaration in accordance with paragraph 1 of the present article may,
at any time, withdraw this declaration by notification to the
A State Party shall take all
appropriate steps to ensure that individuals under its jurisdiction are
not subjected to ill treatment or intimidation as a consequence of
communicating with the Committee pursuant to the present Protocol.
The Committee shall include in its
annual report under article 21 of the Convention a summary of its
activities under the present Protocol.
Each State Party undertakes to
make widely known and to give publicity to the Convention and the
present Protocol and to facilitate access to information about the views
and recommendations of the Committee, in particular, on matters
involving that State Party.
The Committee shall develop its
own rules of procedure to be followed when exercising the functions
conferred on it by the present Protocol.
1. The present Protocol shall be open
for signature by any State that has signed, ratified or acceded to the
2. The present Protocol shall be subject
to ratification by any State that has ratified or acceded to the
Convention. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.
3. The present Protocol shall be open to
accession by any State that has ratified or acceded to the Convention.
4. Accession shall be effected by the
deposit of an instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the
1. The present Protocol shall enter into
force three months after the date of the deposit with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations of the tenth instrument of
ratification or accession.
2. For each State ratifying the present
Protocol or acceding to it after its entry into force, the present
Protocol shall enter into force three months after the date of the
deposit of its own instrument of ratification or accession.
No reservations to the present
Protocol shall be permitted.
1. Any State Party may propose an
amendment to the present Protocol and file it with the Secretary-General
of the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall thereupon communicate
any proposed amendments to the States Parties with a request that they
notify her or him whether they favour a conference of States Parties for
the purpose of considering and voting on the proposal. In the event that
at least one third of the States Parties favour such a conference, the
Secretary-General shall convene the conference under the auspices of the
United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of the States
Parties present and voting at the conference shall be submitted to the
General Assembly of the United Nations for approval.
2. Amendments shall come into force when
they have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations
and accepted by a two-thirds majority of the States Parties to the
present Protocol in accordance with their respective constitutional
3. When amendments come into force, they
shall be binding on those States Parties that have accepted them, other
States Parties still being bound by the provisions of the present
Protocol and any earlier amendments that they have accepted.
1. Any State Party may denounce the
present Protocol at any time by written notification addressed to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations. Denunciation shall take effect
six months after the date of receipt of the notification by the
2. Denunciation shall be without
prejudice to the continued application of the provisions of the present
Protocol to any communication submitted under article 2 or any inquiry
initiated under article 8 before the effective date of denunciation.
The Secretary-General of the
United Nations shall inform all States of:
(a) Signatures, ratifications and
accessions under the present Protocol;
(b) The date of entry into force
of the present Protocol and of any amendment under article 18;
(c) Any denunciation under article
1. The present Protocol, of which the
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally
authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.
2. The Secretary-General of the United
Nations shall transmit certified copies of the present Protocol to all
States referred to in article 25 of the Convention.