Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mexican Resolution on Discrimination against Women

The Human Rights Council on Friday last approved a resolution tabled by Mexico and Columbia on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The resolution was approved by consensus.

This hotly debated resolution originally attempted to create a new mandate within the Human Rights Council by the appointment of an independent expert on “laws that discriminate against women”

The scope of the proposed mandate in the resolution was unclear and whilst it was accepted that there are very real problems of discrimination that require urgent attention nevertheless the mandate originally called for in the draft resolution had the potential to be used for many other so-called areas of discrimination against women such as lack of access to abortion.

The new mandate was proposed despite the fact that there are many existing instruments dealing with discrimination against women such as Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Commission on the Status of Women, as well as a special rapporteur for violence against women. The new mandate was also proposed, despite the fact that the United Nations General Assembly in September adopted a resolution on gender equality and women's rights for the creation of a new United Nations agency for global Gender Equality Architecture Reform GEAR.

The final version of the resolution dropped the proposal to create a new mandate and instead requested the High Commissioner to prepare a thematic study on women’s equality before the law, to address the new “thematic study”, including conclusions and recommendations, at its fourteenth session, and to hold a half-day discussion on the issue in order to consider taking further possible action on discrimination against women at that session.