Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Strong recommendations around women’s rights to the UK Government as part of the Universal Periodic Review

During the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) examination of the UK Government on May 24th some clear recommendations and areas of concern around women’s rights, and equalities in general, were raised by the 60 countries who questioned the UK.

Gender equality was at the core of the examination and these issues were picked up by a number of states from Australia to Angola. However, the Government failed to address many of these concerns in its response and hardly mentioned women’s rights at all.

More information can be found here and the agreed report will be available here. Below is a summary of some of the key recommendations:

Women’s rights
  • Continue efforts in the promotion of women’s rights (Indonesia)
  • Give priority attention to the questions of gender equality and discrimination against women (Uzbekistan)
Violence against women and girls
  • Sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (France and Australia)
  • Continue efforts to combat discrimination on any ground and violence against women and girls (Cuba)
  • Adopt a national strategy to combat all forms of violence against women and girls (Brazil)
  • Take more effective measures to combat all forms of violence against women and girls and to ensure that the perpetrators of violence are taken to justice and punished (Malaysia)
Forced marriage
  • Assess the impact of the minimum age limit for overseas spouses or fiancés on the prevention of forced marriage and review its policy in this regard (Slovenia)
Human trafficking
  • Increase efforts to combat trafficking in persons, particularly to protect women and children (Spain)
  • Continue making progress in applying the strategy on trafficking in persons adopted in July 2011 (Colombia) 
  • Implement the EU Directive on trafficking in human beings by April 2013 (Australia)
  • Standardise anti-trafficking responses across the UK insofar as possible given the devolution of law enforcement powers, and appoint a rapporteur in each devolved authority to make critical assessments and improve the UK’s overall anti-trafficking response (United States) 
  • Take all measures to ensure that all trafficked people are able to access the support and services they are entitled to, including free legal aid and access to their right to compensation (Greece)
Women in prison
  • Consider incorporating the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders as part of its policy on the treatment of women prisoners (Thailand)
Reproductive rights
  • Ensure by legislative and other measures that women in Northern Ireland are entitled to safe and legal abortion on equal basis with women living in other parts of the UK (Finland)
Equal pay
  • Adopt government policies and legislation to address the pay gap between men and women (Sudan)
  • Consider policies and legal provisions to encourage equal pay practices (India)
  • Review national legislation to ensure equality and non-discrimination (Egypt)
  • Ensure that the reform process of the Equality and Human Rights Commission does not affect its independence in conformity with the Paris Principles
  • Strengthen measures aimed at reducing serious inequalities in access to health, education and employment, which still exist despite the adoption of the Equality Act (Spain) 
  • Consider strengthening policies to combat discrimination in all areas, notably in education and employment (Morocco)
  • Strengthen data collection and maintain disaggregated data to better understand the scale and severity of hate crimes towards women, immigrants, religious minorities, persons with disabilities and children (United States)
  • Provide more resources for reforming the welfare system in order to make it better able to tackle poverty and worklessness, and reduce negative impact on social vulnerable groups (Viet Nam)
  • Guarantee the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, particularly health, education and adequate housing (Cuba)
Other relevant areas
  • Publish the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry on the establishment of a regulatory regime for ethical media (Angola)
  • Share best practices of tackling the situation of the Roma and Traveller people through the EU Framework of National Roma Integration Strategies adopted in 2011 (Hungary)
The UK Government now has three months to look over the recommendations and decide which ones it will accept, reject or partly accept and are due to report back on this in September. This will then be an opportunity for the voluntary sector to present some clear ideas for implementation and action around the adopted recommendations.

Many of the recommendations that came out of the UPR process will be useful for other treaty monitoring, such as the CEDAW Convention which is coming up in 2013, and it was useful to note that many countries had looked at the recommendations from previous treaty bodies when compiling their questions.

This included a specific recommendation to remove reservations to the CEDAW Convention from Greece and references to 2008 CEDAW concluding observations on women in prison and female genital mutilation (FGM). It was also good to see how many of the issues in the UPR submissions from the UK voluntary sector had been picked up and were reflected in the final recommendations.

Therefore, we can see that the UPR and other treaty processes can work closely together and reinforce each other to build stronger obligations and recommendations for action around human rights that government’s cannot ignore.

No comments: