International Agreements and How to Build a Legal Case for Women’s Land Rights

Amanda Richardson · Sep 22, 2016

Appendix B: International Agreements

Introduction

This Appendix B summarizes relevant international agreements for challenging local property laws that discriminate against or harm women. While some specifically deal with property laws, others afford women broad sweeping protections and equal treatment to men for the purposes of the right to property and social or economic security.

 

For each international agreement, this section provides:

  • a summary of the important aspects of the agreement;
  • a table of the important articles within the treaty; a table of all the countries that have ratified, accepted, or acceded to the treaty; and
  • links to reservations each country has made with respect to the treaty. (As noted previously, reservations must not be incompatible with the object and purpose of the treaty; otherwise, the reservation will be invalid.) 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) establishes the principles that all human beings are born free with equal rights and dignity. Under Article 2, the Declaration establishes that all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration will apply to everyone, without distinction of any kind, such as sex or property. Article 3 further emphasizes that all persons have the right to life, liberty and security of person. With this background, the Declaration set out comprehensive lists of rights for both men and women that have been the influence for future human rights agreements. In order for women to receive full protections and access to land, the various articles in the Declaration must be used together to support women’s rights.

 

For example, while women have the right to own property alone of in association with others under Article 17(1), this right, on its own, fails to protect women who do not own actual title to a piece of land and rather, use the property as part of their husband’s estate. But, if this article is used in conjunction with Article 16(1)—men and women are entitled to equal rights as to marriage—this would afford a woman access to land that she otherwise would not receive just for having the right to own property. 

 

Click here for the History of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Also see the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

See Table 1.1 for a list of relevant articles within the UDHR.

 

Table 1.1

Article

Relevant Language

1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set form in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as….sex…property…

3

Everyone has the rights to life, liberty, and security of person.

7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution of by law.

16(1)

Men and women of full age have the right to marry…[and] are entitled to equal rights as to marriage.

17(1)

Everyone has the rights to own property alone as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

25

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing…

29(2)

Everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

29(3)

These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purpose and principles of the United Nations.

30

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

 

Fifty-eight member States participated in the final drafting of the UDHR and thus were the only signatories. Although the UDHR had some opposition, its principles have become international customary law and its principles have been established in succeeding international human rights treaties. All United Nations member states have ratified one of the nine major international human rights instruments and over 80 percent have ratified at least four or more international human rights agreements.[i] See Table 1.2 for countries’ votes on the UDHR.

 

Table 1.2: Adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Country

Voting

Yes

(48)

No

(0)

Abstain/No Vote

(8)/(2)

Afghanistan

X

 

 

Argentina

X

 

 

Australia

X

 

 

Belgium

X

 

 

Bolivia

X

 

 

Brazil

X

 

 

Burma

X

 

 

Byelorussian SSR

 

 

X

Canada

X

 

 

Chile

X

 

 

China

X

 

 

Columbia

X

 

 

Costa Rica

X

 

 

Cuba

X

 

 

Czechoslovakia

 

 

X

Denmark

X

 

 

Dominican Republic

X

 

 

Ecuador

X

 

 

Egypt

X

 

 

El Salvador

X

 

 

Ethiopia

X

 

 

France

X

 

 

Greece

X

 

 

Guatemala

X

 

 

Haiti

X

 

 

Honduras

 

 

No Vote

Iceland

X

 

 

India

X

 

 

Iran

X

 

 

Iraq

X

 

 

Lebanon

X

 

 

Liberia

X

 

 

Luxembourg

X

 

 

Mexico

X

 

 

Netherlands

X

 

 

New Zealand

X

 

 

Nicaragua

X

 

 

Norway

X

 

 

Pakistan

X

 

 

Panama

X

 

 

Paraguay

X

 

 

Peru

X

 

 

Philippines

X

 

 

Poland

 

 

X

Saudi Arabia

 

 

X

Siam

X

 

 

Sweden

X

 

 

Syria

X

 

 

Turkey

X

 

 

Ukrainian SSR

 

 

X

Union of South Africa

 

 

X

USSR

 

 

X

United Kingdom

X

 

 

United States

X

 

 

Uruguay

X

 

 

Venezuela

X

 

 

Yemen

 

 

No Vote

Yugoslavia

 

 

X

 


[i] The Foundation of International Human Rights Law, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/hr_law.shtml (last visited on 3/25/2014).

 

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted in 1966 and entered into force in 1976),  expands the political and civil rights of individuals and reinforces the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Under its Preamble, State parties to the ICCPR recognize the” inherent dignity, equality, and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” State parties also oblige themselves to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights and freedoms set forth within the rest of the Covenant.

 

Under Article 1 of the Covenant, women’s economic status is protected as it gives all peoples the right to “freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.” In addition, Article 2 reinforces the non-discrimination clause from the UDHR stating: “Each State party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as…sex, property,….”While many of the civil and political rights mentioned do not explicitly give women access to property, Article 3 at least explicitly ensures that men and women will enjoy equal rights with regards to the civil and political rights set forth in the ICCPR. Furthermore, Article 23(4) protects women’s rights with regard to equality at the dissolution of marriage and during marriage, which can assist many rural women in obtaining access to equal rights to land. Article 26 says that “all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

 

See the full text of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

 

See Table 2.1 for a list of relevant articles within the ICCPR.

 

See Table 2.2 for a list of all countries’ obligations under the ICCPR.

 

See here for an updated list of declarations and reservations each country has made with respect to the ICCPR.

 

Table 2.1

Article

Relevant Language

1(1)

 

 

1(2)

 

 

1(3)

 

 

All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

 

All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

 

The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

2(1)

 

 

 

 

 

2(2)

 

 

 

 

 

2(3)

Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

 

Where not already provided for by existing legislative or other measures, each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Covenant, to adopt such laws or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in the present Covenant.

 

Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:

 

To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity;

 

To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy;

 

To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.

 

 

Summary of General Comment:

 

Respect means States refrain from violation of the rights recognized by the Covenant. Ensure means individuals are protected by the State, not just against violations of Covenant rights by its agents but also against acts committed by private persons or entities.

 

To fulfill a duty to respect and ensure, States must take appropriate measures (exercise due diligence) to: prevent; investigate and punish; and redress these rights.

3

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant

23(4)

State parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during and at its dissolution. In the case of dissolution, provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children.

5(1)

 

 

 

5(2)

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

 

There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Covenant pursuant to law, conventions, regulations, or custom on the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent.

23

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized. No marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

States Parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. In the case of dissolution, provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children.

 

Table 2.2: Signatories to the ICCPR

Country

Voting

Accession (a)

Ratification (r)

Signature(s)

Year

Afghanistan

a

1983

Albania

a

1991

Algeria

r

1989

Andorra

r

2006

Angola

a

1992

Argentina

r

1986

Armenia

a

1993

Australia

r

1980

Austria

r

1978

Azerbaijan

a

1992

Bahamas

r

2008

Bahrain

a

2006

Bangladesh

a

2000

Barbados

a

1973

Belarus

r

1973

Belgium

r

1983

Belize

a

1996

Benin

a

1992

Bolivia

a

1982

Bosnia and Herzegovina

succession

1993

Botswana

r

2000

Brazil

a

1992

Bulgaria

r

1970

Burkina Faso

a

1999

Burundi

a

1990

Cabo Verde

a

1993

Cambodia

a

1992

Cameroon

a

1984

Canada

a

1976

Central African Republic

a

1981

Chad

a

1995

Chile

r

1972

China

s

1998

Colombia

r

1969

Comoros

s

2008

Congo

a

1983

Costa Rica

r

1968

Cote d’Ivoire

a

1992

Croatia

succession

1992

Cuba

s

2008

Cyprus

r

1969

Czech Republic

succession

1993

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

a

1981

Democratic Republic of the Congo

a

1976

Denmark

r

1972

Djibouti

a

2002

Dominica

a

1993

Dominican Republic

a

1978

Ecuador

r

1969

Egypt

r

1982

El Salvador

r

1979

Equatorial Guinea

a

1987

Eritrea

a

2002

Estonia

a

1991

Ethiopia

a

1993

Finland

r

1975

France

a

1980

Gabon

a

1983

Gambia

a

1979

Georgia

a

1994

Germany

r

1973

Ghana

r

2000

Greece

a

1997

Grenada

a

1991

Guatemala

a

1992

Guinea

r

1978

Guinea-Bissau

r

2010

Guyana

r

1977

Haiti

a

1991

Honduras

r

1997

Hungary

r

1974

Iceland

r

1979

India

a

1979

Indonesia

a

2006

Islamic Republic of Iran

r

1975

Iraq

r

1971

Ireland

r

1989

Israel

r

1991

Italy

r

1978

Jamaica

r

1975

Japan

r

1979

Jordan

r

1975

Kazakhstan

r

2006

Kenya

a

1972

Kuwait

a

1996

Kyrgyzstan

a

1994

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

r

2009

Latvia

a

1992

Lebanon

a

1972

Lesotho

a

1992

Liberia

r

2004

Libya

a

1970

Liechtenstein

a

1998

Lithuania

a

1991

Luxembourg

r

1983

Madagascar

r

1971

Malawi

a

1993

Maldives

a

2006

Mali

a

1974

Malta

a

1990

Mauritania

a

2004

Mauritius

a

1973

Mexico

a

1981

Monaco

r

1997

Mongolia

r

1974

Montenegro

succession

2006

Morocco

r

1979

Mozambique

a

1993

Namibia

a

1994

Nauru

s

2001

Nepal

a

1991

Netherlands

r

1978

New Zealand

r

1978

Nicaragua

a

1980

Niger

a

1986

Nigeria

a

1993

Norway

r

1972

Pakistan

r

2010

Palau

s

2011

Panama

r

1977

Papua New Guinea

a

2008

Paraguay

a

1992

Peru

r

1978

Philippines

r

1986

Poland

r

1977

Portugal

r

1978

Republic of Korea

a

1990

Republic of Moldova

a

1993

Romania

r

1974

Russian Federation

r

1973

Rwanda

a

1975

Samoa

a

2008

San Marino

a

1985

Sao Tome and Principe

s

1995

Senegal

r

1978

Serbia

succession

2001

Seychelles

a

1992

Sierra Leone

a

1996

Slovakia

succession

1993

Slovenia

succession

1992

Somalia

a

1990

South Africa

r

1998

Spain

r

1977

Sri Lanka

a

1980

St. Lucia

s

2011

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

a

1981

Sudan

a

1986

Suriname

a

1976

Swaziland

a

2004

Sweden

r

1971

Switzerland

a

1992

Syrian Arab Republic

a

1969

Tajikistan

a

1999

Thailand

a

1996

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

succession

1994

Timor-Leste

a

2003

Togo

a

1984

Trinidad and Tobago

a

1978

Tunisia

r

1969

Turkey

r

2003

Turkmenistan

a

1997

Uganda

a

1995

Ukraine

r

1973

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

r

1976

United Republic of Tanzania

a

1976

United States

r

1992

Uruguay

r

1970

Uzbekistan

a

1995

Vanuatu

r

2008

Venezuela

r

1978

Vietnam

a

1982

Yemen

a

1987

Zambia

a

1984

Zimbabwe

a

1991

 

For the most up-to-date list of countries obligations under the ICCPR, click here.

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

Under CEDAW, women rights have been extensively outlined, especially within the area of access to property, land and economic development. Under Article 5 of CEDAW, the Convention imposes an obligation that States take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct and women, especially those leading to discrimination against women. Under Article 1, discrimination against women includes: “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women…of [the] human rights and fundamental freedoms” stated within the Convention.

 

Article 14 of CEDAW also ensures additional protections to rural women based on their pivotal role in the economic survival of their families. Under this protection, States must take all appropriate measures to ensure that the provisions and rights in the Convention are applied to rural women.  Furthermore, this protection also requires State parties to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women so that rural women may participate and benefit from rural development. The protection also requires States to ensure that rural women have the right to:

 

  • To participate in the elaboration and implementation of development planning at all levels;
  • To organize self-help groups and cooperatives in order to obtain equal access to economic opportunities through employment or self-employment;
  • To participate in all community activities;
  • To have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes;
  • To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.

 

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has also made recommendations regarding women’s rights to property. Under General Recommendation 21, the Committee has stated:

 

“Women have the right to ‘own, manage, enjoy and dispose of property’—[this] ‘is central to a woman's right to enjoy financial independence, and in many countries will be critical to her ability to earn a livelihood and to provide adequate housing and nutrition for herself and for her family…States parties must undergo agrarian reform or redistribution of land to pay particular attention to the right of women, regardless of marital status, to share such redistributed land on equal terms with men.”

 

See the full text of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Also view a full history of CEDAW.

 

See Table 3.1 for a list of relevant articles within CEDAW.

 

Click here and see Table 3.2 for a list of all countries’ obligations under CEDAW.

 

See here for an updated list of declarations and reservations each country has made with respect to CEDAW.

 

Table 3.1

Article

Relevant Language

1

Discrimination against women is: “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women…of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

5

 

Requires State parties to take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women

14(1)

 

 

 

 

14(2)(g)

 

 

 

 

 

States Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetized sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of the present Convention to women in rural area.

 

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right to:

  • To participate in the elaboration and implementation of development planning at all levels;
  • To organize self-help groups and cooperatives in order to obtain equal access to economic opportunities through employment or self- employment;
  • To participate in all community activities;
  • To have access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes;
  • To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.

15

Guarantees women a legal capacity identical to men

16(1) (a)-(h)

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

 

(a)

The same right to enter into marriage;

(b)

The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;

(c)

The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution;

(d)

The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status, in matters relating to their children; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

 

(e)

The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights;

(f)

The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

(g)

The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation;

(h)

The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration. .

 

Table 3.2: Signatories to CEDAW

Country

Voting

Accession (a)

Ratification (r)

Signature(s)

Year

Afghanistan

r

2003

Albania

a

1994

Algeria

a

1996

Andorra

a

1997

Angola

a

1986

Antigua and Barbuda

a

1989

Argentina

r

1985

Armenia

a

1993

Australia

r

1983

Austria

r

1982

Azerbaijan

a

1995

Bahamas

a

1993

Bahrain

a

2002

Bangladesh

a

1984

Barbados

r

1980

Belarus

r

1981

Belgium

r

1985

Belize

r

1990

Benin

r

1992

Bhutan

r

1981

Bolivia

r

1990

Bosnia and Herzegovina

succession

1993

Botswana

a

1996

Brazil

r

1984

Brunei Darussalam

a

2006

Bulgaria

r

1982

Burkina Faso

a

1987

Burundi

r

1992

Cabo Verde

a

1980

Cambodia

a

1992

Cameroon

r

1994

Canada

r

1981

Central African Republic

a

1991

Chad

a

1995

Chile

r

1989

China

r

1980

Colombia

r

1982

Comoros

a

1994

Congo

r

1982

Cook Islands

a

2006

Costa Rica

r

1986

Cote d’Ivoire

r

1995

Croatia

succession

1992

Cuba

r

1980

Cyprus

a

1985

Czech Republic

succession

1993

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

a

2001

Democratic Republic of the Congo

r

1986

Denmark

r

1983

Djibouti

r

1998

Dominica

r

1980

Dominican Republic

r

1982

Ecuador

r

1981

Egypt

r

1981

El Salvador

r

1981

Equatorial Guinea

a

1984

Eritrea

a

1995

Estonia

a

1991

Ethiopia

r

1981

Fiji

a

1995

Finland

r

1986

France

r

1983

Gabon

r

1983

Gambia

r

1993

Georgia

a

1994

Germany

r

1985

Ghana

r

1986

Greece

r

1983

Grenada

r

1990

Guatemala

r

1982

Guinea

r

1982

Guinea-Bissau

r

1985

Guyana

r

1980

Haiti

r

1981

Honduras

r

1983

Hungary

r

1980

Iceland

r

1985

India

r

1993

Indonesia

r

1984

Iraq

a

1986

Ireland

a

1985

Israel

r

1991

Italy

r

1985

Jamaica

r

1984

Japan

r

1985

Jordan

r

1992

Kazakhstan

a

1998

Kenya

a

1984

Kiribati

a

2004

Kuwait

a

1994

Kyrgyzstan

a

1997

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

r

1981

Latvia

a

1992

Lebanon

a

1997

Lesotho

r

1995

Liberia

a

1984

Libya

a

1989

Liechtenstein

a

1995

Lithuania

a

1994

Luxembourg

r

1989

Madagascar

r

1989

Malawi

a

1987

Malaysia

a

1995

Maldives

a

1993

Mali

r

1985

Malta

a

1991

Marshall Islands

a

2006

Mauritania

a

2001

Mauritius

a

1984

Mexico

r

1981

Micronesia

a

2004

Monaco

a

2005

Mongolia

r

1981

Montenegro

succession

2006

Morocco

a

1993

Mozambique

a

1997

Myanmar

a

1997

Namibia

a

1992

Nauru

a

2011

Nepal

r

1991

Netherlands

r

1991

New Zealand

r

1985

Nicaragua

r

1981

Niger

a

1999

Nigeria

r

1985

Norway

r

1981

Oman

a

2006

Pakistan

a

1996

Palau

s

2011

Panama

r

1981

Papua New Guinea

a

1995

Paraguay

a

1987

Peru

r

1982

Philippines

r

1981

Poland

r

1980

Portugal

r

1980

Qatar

a

2009

Republic of Korea

r

1984

Republic of Moldova

a

1994

Romania

r

1982

Russian Federation

r

1981

Rwanda

r

1981

Samoa

a

1992

San Marino

r

2003

Sao Tome and Principe

r

2003

Saudi Arabia

r

2000

Senegal

r

1985

Serbia

succession

2001

Seychelles

a

1992

Sierra Leone

r

1988

Slovakia

succession

1993

Slovenia

succession

1992

Solomon Islands

a

2002

South Africa

r

1995

Spain

r

1984

Sri Lanka

r

1981

St. Kitts and Nevis

a

1985

St. Lucia

a

1982

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

a

1981

Suriname

a

1993

Swaziland

a

2004

Sweden

r

1980

Switzerland

r

1997

Syrian Arab Republic

a

2003

Tajikistan

a

1993

Thailand

a

1985

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

succession

1994

Timor-Leste

a

2003

Togo

a

1983

Trinidad and Tobago

r

1990

Tunisia

r

1985

Turkey

a

1985

Turkmenistan

a

1997

Uganda

r

1985

Ukraine

r

1981

United Arab Emirates

a

2004

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

r

1986

United Republic of Tanzania

r

1985

United States

s

1980

Uruguay

r

1981

Uzbekistan

a

1995

Vanuatu

a

1995

Venezuela

r

1983

Vietnam

r

1982

Yemen

a

1984

Zambia

r

1985

Zimbabwe

a

1991

 

Optional Protocol to CEDAW

Entering into force on December 22, 2000, the Optional Protocol establishes a State commitment to recognize the CEDAW Committee’s competence to receive and consider communications related to CEDAW. Under Article 2 and 3, the Optional Protocol sets out a communications procedure where individuals or groups of individuals may submit non-anonymous complaints of violations in writing to the Committee. However, the Committee may only consider communications from countries that have become party to the Optional Protocol. Complaints are also only considered when all available domestic remedies have been exhausted; complaints must not be examined under another procedure of international investigation or settlement.

 

Under Article 5, the Committee may contact the State with a request that the State take immediate steps to protect the alleged victims from irreparable harm. When a communication meets the above criteria, the Committee will confidentially bring a communication to the State’s attention. The State then has 6 months to provide a written explanation or statement with regard to the complaint. Notably, under Article 7, The Committee examines and considers the complaint in closed meetings with the State.

 

Under Article 8, the Committee may also initiate a confidential investigation where one of more State members have received reliable information of grave of systematic State violations to the rights established in CEDAW. After giving the State six months, the Committee may invite the State to provide details of any remedial efforts taken following the inquiry. State parties are also required to ensure the protection of those submitting communications.

 

See the full text of the Optional Protocol.  View a full history of the Optional Protocol.

 

See Table 3.3 for a list of countries’ obligations under the Optional Protocol. Under Article 17, the Optional Protocol does not permit reservations. Therefore this section will not include such information.

 

To see a list of declarations made at time of signature, click here. Under Article 19, States may withdraw from the Optional Protocol through written notification to the Secretary-General; but, withdrawal has no impact on any communications submitted prior to the effective date of withdrawal.

 

Table 3.3: Signatories to CEDAW’s Optional Protocol

Country

Voting

Accession (a)

Ratification (r)

Signature(s)

Year

Albania

a

2003

Andorra

r

2002

Angola

a

2007

Antigua and Barbuda

a

2006

Argentina

r

2007

Armenia

a

2006

Australia

a

2008

Austria

r

2000

Azerbaijan

r

2001

Bangladesh

r

2000

Belarus

r

2004

Belgium

r

2004

Belize

a

2002

Benin

s

2000

Bolivia

r

2000

Bosnia and Herzegovina

r

2002

Botswana

a

2007

Brazil

r

2002

Bulgaria

r

2006

Burkina Faso

r

2005

Burundi

s

2001

Cabo Verde

a

2011

Cambodia

r

2010

Cameroon

a

2005

Canada

a

2002

Chad

s

2012

Chile

s

1999

Colombia

r

2007

Congo

s

2008

Cook Islands

a

2007

Costa Rica

r

2001

Cote d’Ivoire

a

2012

Croatia

r

2001

Cuba

s

2000

Cyprus

r

2002

Czech Republic

r

2001

Denmark

r

2000

Dominican Republic

r

2001

Ecuador

r

2002

El Salvador

s

2001

Equatorial Guinea

a

2009

Finland

r

2000

France

r

2000

Gabon

a

2004

Georgia

a

2002

Germany

r

2002

Ghana

r

2011

Greece

r

2002

Guatemala

r

2002

Guinea-Bissau

r

2009

Hungary

a

2000

Iceland

r

2001

Indonesia

s

2000

Ireland

r

2000

Italy

r

2000

Kazakhstan

r

2001

Kyrgyzstan

a

2002

Lesotho

r

2004

Liberia

s

2004

Libya

a

2004

Liechtenstein

r

2001

Lithuania

r

2004

Luxembourg

r

2003

Madagascar

s

2000

Malawi

s

2000

Maldives

a

2006

Mali

a

2000

Mauritius

r

2008

Mexico

r

2002

Mongolia

r

2002

Montenegro

succession

2006

Mozambique

a

2008

Namibia

r

2000

Nepal

r

2007

Netherlands

r

2002

New Zealand

r

2000

Niger

a

2004

Nigeria

r

2004

Norway

r

2002

Panama

r

2001

Paraguay

r

2001

Peru

r

2001

Philippines

r

2003

Poland

a

2003

Portugal

r

2002

Republic of Korea

a

2006

Republic of Moldova

a

2006

Romania

r

2003

Russian Federation

r

2004

Rwanda

a

2008

San Marino

a

2005

Sao Tome and Principe

s

2000

Senegal

r

2000

Serbia

a

2003

Seychelles

r

2011

Sierra Leone

s

2000

Slovakia

r

2000

Slovenia

a

2004

Solomon Islands

a

2002

South Africa

r

2005

Spain

a

2001

Sri Lanka

a

2002

St. Kitts and Nevis

r

2006

Sweden

r

2003

Switzerland

s

2008

Tajikistan

r

2000

Thailand

r

2000

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

r

2003

Timor-Leste

a

2003

Tunisia

a

2008

Turkey

r

2002

Turkmenistan

a

2009

Ukraine

r

2003

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

a

2004

United Republic of Tanzania

a

2006

Uruguay

r

2001

Vanuatu

a

2007

Venezuela

r

2002

Zambia

s

2008

 

International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

Women have been protected under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) through provisions that acknowledge every person’s right to an adequate standard of living with food, clothing, housing, and continued improvement of living conditions.[ii] Through this provision, women going through dissolution processes or who have been kicked out of their home and lost access to the land they once used would have a right to such land as a means of their adequate standard of living. Similar to the UDHR and the ICCPR, women have their entire economic, social, and cultural rights named within the Covenant protected by a non-discrimination clause. There is also a right to equality under Article 3.

 

See the full text of the Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Also view a full history of the ICESCR.

 

See Table 4.1 for a list of relevant articles within ICESCR.

 

Click here and see Table 4.2 for a list of all countries’ obligations under ICESCR.

 

See here for an updated list of declarations and reservations each country has made with respect to ICESCR.

 

Table 4.1

Article

Relevant Language

2

Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.

 

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

 

Developing countries, with due regard to human rights and their national economy, may determine to what extent they would guarantee the economic rights recognized in the present Covenant to non-nationals.

10

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that:

The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children. Marriage must be entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses.

Special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth. During such period working mothers should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate social security benefits.

Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions. Children and young persons should be protected from economic and social exploitation. Their employment in work harmful to their morals or health or dangerous to life or likely to hamper their normal development should be punishable by law. States should also set age limits below which the paid employment of child labor should be prohibited and punishable by law.

11(1)

 

States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international cooperation based on free consent.

 

Table 4.2: Signatories to the ICESCR

Country

Voting

Accession (a)

Ratification (r)

Signature(s)

Year

Afghanistan

a

1983

Albania

a

1991

Algeria

r

1989

Angola

a

1992

Argentina

r

1986

Armenia

a

1993

Australia

r

1975

Austria

r

1978

Azerbaijan

a

1992

Bahamas

r

2008

Bahrain

a

2007

Bangladesh

a

1998

Barbados

a

1973

Belarus

r

1973

Belgium

r

1983

Belize

s

2000

Benin

a

1992

Bolivia

a

1982

Bosnia and Herzegovina

succession

1993

Brazil

a

1992

Bulgaria

r

1970

Burkina Faso

a

1999

Burundi

a

1990

Cabo Verde

a

1993

Cambodia

a

1992

Cameroon

a

1984

Canada

a

1976

Central African Republic

a

1981

Chad

a

1995

Chile

r

1972

China

r

2001

Colombia

r

1969

Comoros

s

2008

Congo

a

1983

Costa Rica

r

1968

Cote d’Ivoire

a

1992

Croatia

succession

1992

Cuba

s

2008

Cyprus

r

1969

Czech Republic

succession

1993

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

a

1981

Democratic Republic of the Congo

a

1976

Denmark

r

1972

Djibouti

a

2002

Dominica

a

1993

Dominican Republic

a

1978

Ecuador

r

1969

Egypt

r

1982

El Salvador

r

1979

Equatorial Guinea

a

1987

Eritrea

a

2001

Estonia

a

1991

Ethiopia

a

1993

Finland

r

1975

France

a

1980

Gabon

a

1983

Gambia

a

1978

Georgia

a

1994

Germany

r

1973

Ghana

r

2000

Greece

a

1985

Grenada

a

1991

Guatemala

a

1988

Guinea

r

1978

Guinea-Bissau

a

1992

Guyana

r

1977

Haiti

a

2013

Honduras

r

1981

Hungary

r

1974

Iceland

r

1979

India

a

1999

Indonesia

a

2006

Islamic Republic of Iran

r

1975

Iraq

r

1971

Ireland

r

1989

Israel

r

1991

Italy

r

1978

Jamaica

r

1975

Japan

r

1979

Jordan

r

1975

Kazakhstan

r

2006

Kenya

a

1972

Kuwait

a

1996

Kyrgyzstan

a

1994

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

r

2007

Latvia

a

1992

Lebanon

a

1972

Lesotho

a

1992

Liberia

r

2004

Libya

a

1970

Liechtenstein

a

1998

Lithuania

a

1991

Luxembourg

r

1983

Madagascar

r

1971

Malawi

a

1993

Maldives

a

2006

Mali

a

1974

Malta

r

1990

Mauritania

a

2004

Mauritius

a

1973

Mexico

a

1981

Monaco

r

1997

Mongolia

r

1974

Montenegro

succession

2006

Morocco

r

1979

Namibia

a

1994

Nepal

a

1991

Netherlands

r

1978

New Zealand

r

1978

Nicaragua

a

1980

Niger

a

1986

Nigeria

a

1993

Norway

r

1972

Pakistan

r

2008

Palau

s

2011

Panama

r

1977

Papua New Guinea

a

2008

Paraguay

a

1992

Peru

r

1978

Philippines

r

1974

Poland

r

1977

Portugal

r

1978

Republic of Korea

a

1990

Republic of Moldova

a

1993

Romania

r

1974

Russian Federation

r

1973

Rwanda

a

1975

San Marino

a

1985

Sao Tome and Principe

s

1995

Senegal

r

1978

Serbia

succession

2001

Seychelles

a

1992

Sierra Leone

a

1996

Slovakia

succession

1993

Slovenia

succession

1992

Solomon Islands

succession

1982

Somalia

a

1990

South Africa

s

1994

Spain

r

1977

Sri Lanka

a

1980

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

a

1981

Sudan

a

1986

Suriname

a

1976

Swaziland

a

2004

Sweden

r

1971

Switzerland

a

1992

Syrian Arab Republic

a

1969

Tajikistan

a

1999

Thailand

a

1999

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

succession

1994

Timor-Leste

a

2003

Togo

a

1984

Trinidad and Tobago

a

1978

Tunisia

r

1969

Turkey

r

2003

Turkmenistan

a

1997

Uganda

a

1987

Ukraine

r

1973

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

r

1976

United Republic of Tanzania

a

1976

United States

s

1977

Uruguay

r

1970

Uzbekistan

a

1995

Venezuela

r

1978

Vietnam

a

1982

Yemen

a

1987

Zambia

a

1984

Zimbabwe

a

1991

 
 

[ii] See Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1990, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international human rights agreement that recognizes the rights of every child to certain fundamentals that State parties and the child’s parents, must provide. With respect to property and land rights for girls, the CRC gives an additional avenue to challenge lack of access to land and security, especially in inheritance practices.

 

Under Article 27(1) of the CRC, every child has the right to a standard of living adequate to the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, and social development.

 

See the full text of the CRC. Also see Table 5.1 for a list of relevant articles within the CRC.

 

Click here and see Table 5.2 for a list of all the countries’ obligations, reservations, and declarations under the CRC.

 

Table 5.1

Article

Relevant Language

27(1)

 

 

27(3)

Recognizing the rights of every child to a standard of living adequate to the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, and social development

 

State parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents…of the child to implement this right and shall…provide material assistance and support programs, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing, and housing

 

Table 5.2: Signatories to the CRC

Country

Voting

Accession (a)

Ratification (r)

Signature(s)

Year

Afghanistan

r

1994

Albania

r

1992

Algeria

r

1993

Andorra

r

1996

Angola

r

1990

Antigua and Barbuda

r

1993

Argentina

r

1990

Armenia

a

1993

Australia

r

1990

Austria

r

1992

Azerbaijan

a

1992

Bahamas

r

1991

Bahrain

a

1992

Bangladesh

r

1990

Barbados

r

1990

Belarus

r

1990

Belgium

r

1991

Belize

r

1990

Benin

r

1990

Bhutan

r

1990

Bolivia

r

1990

Bosnia and Herzegovina

succession

1993

Botswana

a

1995

Brazil

r

1990

Brunei Darussalam

a

1995

Bulgaria

r

1991

Burkina Faso

r

1990

Burundi

r

1990

Cabo Verde

a

1992

Cambodia

a

1992

Cameroon

r

1993

Canada

r

1991

Central African Republic

r

1992

Chad

r

1990

Chile

r

1990

China

r

1992

Colombia

r

1991

Comoros

r

1993

Congo

a

1993

Cook Islands

a

1997

Costa Rica

r

1990

Cote d’Ivoire

r

1991

Croatia

succession

1992

Cuba

r

1991

Cyprus

r

1991

Czech Republic

succession

1993

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

r

1990

Democratic Republic of the Congo

r

1990

Denmark

r

1991

Djibouti

r

1990

Dominica

r

1991

Dominican Republic

r

1991

Ecuador

r

1990

Egypt

r

1990

El Salvador

r

1990

Equatorial Guinea

a

1992

Eritrea

r

1994

Estonia

a

1991

Ethiopia

a

1991

Fiji

r

1993

Finland

r

1991

France

r

1990

Gabon

r

1994

Gambia

r

1990

Georgia

a

1994

Germany

r

1992

Ghana

r

1990

Greece

r

1993

Grenada

r

1990

Guatemala

r

1990

Guinea

a

1990

Guinea-Bissau

r

1990

Guyana

r

1991

Haiti

r

1995

Holy See

r

1990

Honduras

r

1990

Hungary

r

1991

Iceland

r

1992

India

a

1992

Indonesia

r

1990

Islamic Republic of Iran

r

1994

Iraq

a

1994

Ireland

r

1992

Israel

r

1991

Italy

r

1991

Jamaica

r

1991

Japan

r

1994

Jordan

r

1991

Kazakhstan

r

1994

Kenya

r

1990

Kuwait

a

1995

Kyrgyzstan

a

1994

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

a

1991

Latvia

a

1992

Lebanon

r

1991

Lesotho

r

1992

Liberia

r

1993

Libya

a

1993

Liechtenstein

r

1995

Lithuania

a

1992

Luxembourg

r

1994

Madagascar

r

1991

Malawi

a

1991

Malaysia

a

1995

Maldives

r

1991

Mali

r

1990

Malta

r

1990

Marshall Islands

r

1993

Mauritania

r

1991

Mauritius

a

1990

Mexico

r

1990

Micronesia

a

1993

Monaco

a

1993

Mongolia

r

1990

Montenegro

succession

2006

Morocco

r

1993

Mozambique

r

1994

Myanmar

a

1991

Namibia

r

1990

Nauru

a

1994

Nepal

r

1990

Netherlands

a

1995

New Zealand

r

1993

Nicaragua

r

1990

Niger

r

1990

Nigeria

r

1991

Niue

a

1995

Norway

r

1991

Oman

a

1996

Pakistan

r

1990

Palau

a

1995

Panama

r

1990

Papua New Guinea

r

1993

Paraguay

r

1990

Peru

r

1990

Philippines

r

1990

Poland

r

1991

Portugal

r

1990

Qatar

r

1995

Republic of Korea

r

1991

Republic of Moldova

a

1993

Romania

r

1990

Russian Federation

r

1990

Rwanda

r

1991

Samoa

r

1994

San Marino

a

1991

Sao Tome and Principe

a

1991

Saudi Arabia

a

1996

Senegal

r

1990

Serbia

succession

2001

Seychelles

a

1990

Sierra Leone

r

1990

Slovakia

succession

1993

Slovenia

succession

1992

Solomon Islands

a

1995

Somalia

s

2002

South Africa

r

1995

Spain

r

1990

Sri Lanka

r

1991

St. Kitts and Nevis

r

1990

St. Lucia

r

1993

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

r

1993

Sudan

r

1990

Suriname

r

1993

Swaziland

r

1995

Sweden

r

1990

Switzerland

r

1997

Syrian Arab Republic

r

1993

Tajikistan

a

1993

Thailand

a

1992

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

succession

1994

Timor-Leste

a

2003

Togo

r

1990

Tonga

a

1995

Trinidad and Tobago

r

1991

Tunisia

r

1992

Turkey

r

1995

Turkmenistan

a

1993

Uganda

r

1990

Ukraine

r

1991

United Arab Emirates

a

1997

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

r

1991

United Republic of Tanzania

r

1991

United States

s

1995

Uruguay

r

1990

Uzbekistan

a

1994

Vanuatu

r

1993

Venezuela

r

1990

Vietnam

r

1990

Yemen

r

1991

Zambia

r

1991

Zimbabwe

r

1990