UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

CEDAW is an international bill of rights for women adopted December 18, 1979 by the United Nations. This agreement establishes a universal definition of discrimination against women and comprehensively addresses and sets legally-binding principles and standards for realizing women’s rights. As of 2013, 187 countries have ratified the CEDAW treaty.

UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women

Adopted in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, this declaration defines violence against women and calls on nation states to take specific measures to address and end all types of violence against women.

UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women)

In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women to accelerate progress in women's empowerment and gender equality by merging the resources and mandates of four UN system entities:

1. the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW);

2. the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW);

3. the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI); and,

4. the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

UN Women's main roles are to:

· Support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms;

· Help UN Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it;

· Forge effective partnerships with civil society; and,

· Hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.

UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

This commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is the primary global policy-making body focused exclusively on gender equality and the advancement of women. Every year, CWS holds a 10 day session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. UN Women supports CWS in all aspects of its work, including the participation of civil society representatives.

The United Nations Security Council has urged action against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) under the Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 of the year 2000, including UN Security Council Resolutions 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960 of 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively.


UNSCR 1325 (2000) calls on Member States to increase the participation of women in the "prevention and resolution of conflicts" and in the "maintenance and promotion of peace and security." It calls upon parties involved in armed conflict to abide by international laws that protect the rights of civilian women and girls and to incorporate policies and procedures that protect women from gender-based crimes such as rape and sexual assault.


UNSCR 1820 (2008) calls for an end to the use of acts of sexual violence against women and girls as a tactic of war and an end to impunity of the perpetrators. It requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations to provide protection to women and girls in UN-led security endeavours, including refugee camps, and to invite the participation of women in all aspects of the peace process.


UNSCR 1888 (2009) details measures to further protect women and children from sexual violence in conflict situations, asking the Secretary-General to appoint a special representative to lead and coordinate the UN’s work on the issue, to send a team of experts to situations of particular concern, and to mandate peacekeepers to protect women and children.


UNSCR 1889 (2009) reaffirms resolution 1325, condemning continuing sexual violence against women in conflict situations, and urged UN Member States and civil society to consider the need for protection and empowerment of women and girls, including those associated with armed groups, in post-conflict programming.

UNSCR 1960 (2010) asks the Secretary-General to list those parties credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of sexual violence in situations on the Council’s agenda. It also calls for the establishment of monitoring, analysis, and reporting arrangements specific to conflict-related sexual violence.


Africa States have committed to the following Protocols:


The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

The Great Lakes Region Protocol on the Suppression and Prevention of Sexual Violence Against Women and Children



United Nations Population Fund's Promoting Gender Equality, Background on Key International Agreements and Declarations and Promoting Gender Equality.

International and Regional Agreements and Conventions.