27 July 2009
I am writing you to share information on an under-used yet potentially effective advocacy tool: the Communications Procedure of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
The Communications Procedure of the CSW deals with allegations of human rights abuse(s) by one or more Member State(s) against women. It does not deal with individual cases of abuse, but rather patterns of abuse.
There are very few prerequisites for submission: the communication itself can be as long or as short as you like (the entire submission can be less than a page long); a petitioner(s) must be identified at first but thereafter can have his/her identity treated confidentially; the petitioner(s) need not be from the country where the alleged abuse is taking place; the communication must contain allegations of a violation the human rights of women; and can be against one or more countries.
Once received, the communication is sent to the Government(s) involved who is then asked to respond. The Division for the Advancement of Women then summarizes all the information received and submits it to the CSW Working Group on Communications who reviews the information and makes recommendations. These findings are then presented to the entire 45 member Commission on the Status of Women for their approval. The approved recommendations are sent to the Government(s) involved (confidential), and a list of patterns of abuse is published in the CSW’s annual report without mention of specific countries (public).
The strength of this procedure is that there are very few prerequisites; with ‘little’ effort a Government can be asked to respond to allegations of abuse; the allegations will be viewed and discussed by the entire 45 member CSW; and the process can result in a set of recommendations being issued by the CSW to the Government in question. The ‘con’ of course is that this is largely a confidential procedure, so that the petitioner will not be able to see the response of the Government or the final set of recommendations.
The deadline for the next round of submissions is 14 August 2009.
I encourage you to consider this communication procedure, with all of its potential ramifications which only you can know, and to visit the website and/or contact me for further information.
Women's Rights Section
Division for the Advancement of Women