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Tackling Violence against Women and Girls

 LSE Knowledge Exchange

...women's experiences in conflict cannot be understood or responded to separately from the denial of women's rights and gender equality in everyday life, nor indeed do those experiences, including gender-based and sexual violence, conclude with a ceasefire or post-conflict agreement.

Professor Christine Chinkin

The Centre for Women, Peace and Security has undertaken a complementary programme of engagement with those working at all levels to end violence against women.

Beginning February 2016, the Centre has had a central role facilitating and offering advice to two independent UN bodies in relation to their work on violence against women, created a new accessible online resource and supported the campaign for UK ratification of the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.  

The UN CEDAW Committee – updating General Recommendation 19

General Recommendation 19 obliges states to take all appropriate measures to end violence against women. No matter where it occurs (in the home, community or society at large) or who the perpetrators are (state or private actors), states have an obligation to prevent, investigate, punish and provide adequate reparations for all acts of gender-based violence.

Recognition that gender-based violence against women is a form of discrimination which states have an obligation to prevent, prosecute and punish came with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, General Recommendation 19 (GR 19) in 1992.  GR 19 brought violence against women into the domain of international human rights law and, for the first time, required states to report on their measures to combat it.

Nearly 25 years later, and in response to the calls from academics, practitioners and NGOs, the CEDAW Committee appointed a Working Group to consider updating GR 19. By invitation, the Centre for Women, Peace and Security supported this Working Group by convening a knowledge exchange workshop, facilitating and participating in Expert Group Meetings and by individual members providing impartial expert advice.

Over two days in February 2016, the Centre hosted five members of the CEDAW Committee, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, senior staff from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and a group of practitioners and academics, for discussion and debate to inform the update of GR 19.

On the first day, the workshop Tackling Violence Against Women: International and regional approaches included the CEDAW Committee members but also legal practitioners, scholars, campaigners and policy-makers. The workshop both facilitated the sharing of knowledge between participants, and offered insights from their particular sector and experience to the members of the CEDAW Committee Working Group.

The following day, LSE WPS hosted an Expert Group Meeting, at which external experts, including members of the Centre, made recommendations and suggestions to the CEDAW Committee Working Group in support of their work updating GR 19.

Work in support of the CEDAW Committee continued into 2017, with a second Expert Group Meeting and further independent advisory briefings. In July 2017, the CEDAW Committee adopted General Recommendation No 35 (GR 35): on gender-based violence against women, updating General Recommendation No. 19 (1992) (GR 19). 

CEDAW General Recommendation 35 on violence against women is a significant step forward | LSE Women, Peace and Security blog

General Recommendation No 35 | Tackling Violence Against Women 

With more funding, it is anticipated that the success of this work on GR19 will constitute a model for future engagement with the CEDAW Committee, providing the opportunity to actively inform and support its work to advance women’s human rights and gender equality.

UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women

Working with the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences provides a valuable opportunity to engage, support, and maximise awareness and impact of her mandate.

In 2016, the Centre for Women, Peace and Security launched a two-year partnership with the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, and appointed the mandate-holder, Dr Dubravka Šimonović, as a Visiting Professor in Practice.

Under the partnership, the Centre is supporting Dr Šimonović with preliminary thematic research, offering external advice and briefings, convening Expert Group Meetings and assisting with public engagement and outreach.

The first Expert Group Meeting hosted by LSE WPS in support of the SR VAW took place in June 2016, on the subject of Femicide. The meeting brought together experts from academia, practice and law, and from across geographical regions. Preliminary research to inform the scope of the meeting was provided by Centre staff, and recommendations to improve states’ accountability to prevent, investigate, and prosecute arose from the interactions and engagement.

In September 2016 LSE WPS hosted a meeting to assist the SR VAW in assessing her priorities for her three-year mandate, and planned the second EGM on Shelters and Protection Orders which took place in January 2017.

Online resource

‘Tackling Violence against Women’ is an online resource aimed at explaining the global and regional human rights frameworks that exist to end gender-based discrimination and tackle violence against women and girls.

The site is primarily intended for those already engaged in advocacy, litigation and civil society action, but will be of use to anyone with an interest in understanding the current human rights mechanisms and processes, and their capacity to progress transformative equality for women. 

The site is rooted in the understanding that violence against women is a form of gender-based discrimination and a violation of women’s human rights.

It sets out the existing international human rights instruments and institutions that tackle violence against women, as well as those which have the potential to be used in this way. This includes explaining the treaties and evolving jurisprudence, and highlighting where campaigning and advocacy organisations can engage with human rights bodies in order to better protect and promote women’s human rights.

Summaries of landmark legal cases take real life stories and explain how courts and other bodies refer to and learn from each other in reaching their opinions, and the wider ambit of each ruling in tackling the structural bases of gender-based violence.

Links to full texts of treaties, legal judgments and expert opinions are provided throughout the site. Articles, books and films are recommended in the timeline of key developments, and by the feminists profiled in the interview series In Visibility.

From 2015-2016, work with the CEDAW Committee, the UN Special Rapporteur and the creation of the resource site was supported by LSE Knowledge Exchange. Development of the resource site is currently supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Foundation.


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