Multilateralism, Treaties, Laws & Conventions

Through multilateralism, countries work together to establish international standards and norms and to share responsibilities for their application. Organizations such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization are primary examples of multilateral institutions. Since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, nine core international human rights treaties have been ratified. These include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Also known as the international bill of rights for women, CEDAW was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. So far, 185 countries have ratified CEDAW, with the United States being one of only eight countries that are not parties to the convention. International human rights agreements such as CEDAW benefit women by protecting their interests across borders and cultures. Governments are required to report regularly to monitoring bodies, and non-governmental organizations often submit dissenting views providing alternative evidence and information on compliance.

Expert Profile

Location: 
United States
38° 15' 9.9648" N, 85° 45' 30.4056" W

Lucinda Marshall is the Director of the Feminist Peace Network (FPN) which she founded in December, 2001 as a virtual ‘room of our own’ where women concerned about how the impending U.S. invasion of Afghanistan (and later Iraq) would impact women’s lives could share their thoughts and ideas for action in a safe, supportive space. While initially focusing on militarism, the network, with participants from around the world, has expanded its vision to also address what Marshall calls the other terrorism, the systemic global pandemic of violence against women.

Location

Louisville, KY
United States
38° 15' 9.9648" N, 85° 45' 30.4056" W

CEDAW FORUM: Strengthening Our Global Voice

By June Zeitlin*

Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights. This is the mantra of CEDAW, the most comprehensive women’s human rights treaty that the US has yet to ratify. The reasons to ratify CEDAW here in the U.S. are clear. Not only will ratification strengthen our global voice to stand up for women and girls around the world, but ratification of CEDAW would also benefit women here in the United States.

You may be asking the question, why now? Do we really think—given the increased polarization and partisan tensions--that we can get two-thirds of the Senate (67 Senators) to ratify CEDAW? I don’t dispute that it is a challenge, but we absolutely believe it is possible. Here are two reasons why:


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CEDAW FORUM: Lighting a Fire for the Women’s Rights Treaty

By Allie Bohm*

As a colleague recently reminded me, our system of government was developed not to pass laws, but to make change slowly. Take, for example, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the international treaty dedicated to gender equality. Although the U.S. played a major role in drafting the treaty and signed it in 1980, it still has not been ratified by the Senate. We’re hoping to change that this year.


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CEDAW FORUM: There’s No Time Like the Present

The United States remains one of only seven countries that have not ratified CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).  CEDAW is an international agreement on basic human rights for women and the most broadly endorsed human rights treaty within the United Nations, having been ratified by over 90% of UN member states. CEDAW outlines human rights such as the right to live free from violence, the ability to go to school, and access to the political system.


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CEDAW FORUM: The U.S. Needs a Human Rights Treaty for Women Domestically

By Margot Baruch* 

Before CEDAW there was no international legal mechanism in place that called on states to assess gender inequalities in their country. The Convention draws attention to 30 articles that deal with discrimination on the basis of being a woman. The treaty is divided into six parts - all related to ensuring that women are able to enjoy their “fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,” as stated in the preamble of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights].  


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CEDAW FORUM: The Unfinished Business of Ratification

By Linda Tarr-Whelan*

NCRW asked leading research and policy expert Linda Tarr-Whelan to weigh in on the status of CEDAW. In addition to her responses, below is an excerpt from a previously published commentary from Linda featured on Women’s eNEws and The Huffington Post.

On Dec. 18, 1979, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, making it a watershed day for women around the globe.

In those heady days, I was deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter for women's concerns. We expected speedy action after he sent the treaty to the Senate.


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CEDAW Forum: Time to Make History With CEDAW

By Don Kraus*

The bumper sticker on my wife’s car reads, “Well-behaved women seldom make history!” I believe proponents of CEDAW, the Women’s Treaty, have been minding their manners a bit too much. CEDAW is the most important international mechanism for women’s equality, and provides a universal standard for women’s human rights. The treaty is a basic framework for ending violence against women, ensuring girls access to education, and promoting economic opportunity and political participation for women.


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The legal system as a tool to protect women’s rights

by Ruth Schechter
Originally posted May 16, 2010 on Gender News from the Clayman Institute for Gender Research

Globally, women face a unique range of human rights issues, from female circumcision to sex slavery, domestic violence, infanticide, and honor killings.


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Memorial Service for RHONDA COPELON

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05/21/2010

Memorial Service for RHONDA COPELON, May 21st

A memorial will be held Friday, May 21st at the Riverside Chapel

76th and Amsterdam, New York, NY

at 11:45 a.m.

 

A beloved law professor, human rights attorney, and Vice President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, she passed on May 6th.

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