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.