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Committee for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 5 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries are represented on the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; what the terms of reference for the Committee are; and if he will make a statement. (190866)

Countries are not represented on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Committee Members are nationals of States Parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and serve on the basis of their personal expertise. They do not represent governments. However, consideration is given to equitable geographical distribution, the representation of different cultures and principal legal systems. A list of the current members of the Committee can be found at:

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/membership.htm

The Committee’s functions are set out in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Essentially they are to monitor States Parties’ implementation of the Convention and make recommendations on how this can be improved. Monitoring is done primarily through a public reporting and examination process. States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention have also given the Committee competence to receive complaints from individuals alleging that their rights under the Convention have been violated. The UK is party to the Protocol as well as the Convention.

CEDAW monitors implementation of the whole Convention. The Convention concerns the elimination of discrimination against women in a wide range of areas, including in respect of health care. While the Convention itself does not explicitly mention abortion or reproductive rights, Articles 12 and 14 refer to access to health care services, including those related to family planning. It is possible that a Committee might address issues relating to abortion and/or reproductive rights when examining a State Party’s implementation of the Convention. But this is for the Committee to decide.

In addition to making recommendations to individual States Parties on implementing the Convention, the Committee is also able to issue general guidance to all States Parties focussing on specific aspects of the Convention. These are produced periodically in the form of non-binding “General Recommendations”. A number of these General Recommendations relate to health matters. In particular, General Recommendation 24 from 1999, relates to “Women and Health”. This does address, among other things, issues relating to sexual and reproductive rights.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who the British representative is on the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; what relevant specialist qualifications he or she holds; what his or her career has been to date; when he or she was selected and by whom; what process was followed in his or her selection; where the post was advertised; how many persons applied for the position; how many were short-listed for interview; how candidates were appraised; what criteria were adopted for the appointment; whether candidates' views on (a) abortion, (b) reproductive rights and (c) contraception were sought; and if he will make a statement. (190867)

There is no UK representative on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

CEDAW’s 23 members are elected by the States Parties to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. States Parties nominate candidates from among their own nationals, but members serve in a personal capacity and do not represent governments. The Convention states that CEDAW should consist of experts of “high moral standing and competence in the field covered by the Convention”.