UN women’s rights committee adopts landmark document on women and conflict
GENEVA (23 October 2013) – States that have ratified the UN Women’s Rights Convention are obliged to uphold women’s rights before, during and after conflict when they are directly involved in fighting, are providing peacekeeping troops or donor assistance for conflict prevention, humanitarian aid or post-conflict reconstruction, a key UN women’s rights committee has said in a landmark document.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) also said that ratifying States should exercise due diligence in ensuring that non-State actors, such as armed groups and private security contractors, be held accountable for crimes against women.
CEDAW’s position is set out in General Recommendation No 30*, a document that gives authoritative guidance to countries that have ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on measures they need to take to ensure women’s rights are protected in conflict prevention, conflict and post conflict situations.
“This document is comprehensive. It includes recognition of women’s central role in preventing conflict and in rebuilding devastated countries,” said CEDAW Chair Nicole Ameline.           
“Women’s experiences are regularly dismissed as irrelevant for predicting conflict, and women’s participation in conflict prevention has historically been low,” Ms. Ameline said. “But in reality, there is for example a strong correlation between an increase in gender-based violence and the outbreak of conflict.”
The General Recommendation, the drafting of which was led over a three-year period by Committee Vice-Chair Pramila Patten of Mauritius, spells out States’ obligations under the Convention, including due diligence obligations to prevent, investigate, punish and ensure redress for crimes against women by non-State actors.
“No longer is it enough to say that such acts are outside the scope of state responsibility of the Convention,” Ms Ameline stressed.
CEDAW adopted its General Recommendation on 18 October, the same day as the UN Security Council Resolution 2122, which stresses the importance of women’s involvement in conflict prevention, resolution and peace-building.
The General Recommendation highlights the need for a concerted and integrated approach that places the Security Council agenda into the broader framework of the implementation of the UN Women’s Rights Convention.