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iconStarOP-CEDAW (Article 8) establishes an inquiry procedure that allows the CEDAW Committee to launch a confidential inquiry into a state, if reliable information is received on grave or systematic violations of the rights guaranteed by CEDAW are occurring. Information leading to an inquiry can be submitted by any source, such as individuals, women’s rights groups, local, national or international human rights organisations. Inquiries are conducted by one of the committee members, and may include a visit to the state concerned.

The inquiry procedure allows the CEDAW Committee to:

  • Recommend measures to combat the structural causes of discrimination
  • Set out a broad range of recommendations to achieve equality between women and men
  • Respond in a timely manner to serious violations occurring within the state’s jurisdiction
  • Address situations in a way that adequately reflects the systematic nature of widespread violations of women’s rights
  • Address situations where individuals or groups are unable to submit communications due to practical constraints or fear of reprisals

The Procedure

There are four stages of the Committee’s inquiry procedure:

Stage 1: Submission of information to the CEDAW Committee indicating grave or systematic violations by a state party

  • Information is submitted to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which verifies that it meets the technical requirements before sending to the Committee for review

Stage 2: Initial consideration and review of information received by the CEDAW Committee

  • The Committee considers whether the submission meets the threshold of “reliable” information about a “grave and/or systematic” violation. Assistance, working groups, and resources can be requested from OHCHR by the Committee for the purposes of validating the scale and reliability of information
  • After verification, the Committee will send the information to the state party, who must respond with their observations/further information
  • The Committee can also request information from any other source, as necessary

Stage 3: The inquiry

  • The scope and format of inquiries is adapted to suit the situation. Inquiries are conducted by designated Committee members, and means are provided for hearings, interpretive staff, and experts as required. With the permission of the state party, the inquiry may conduct a visit to the territory

Stage 4: Comments, recommendations and follow-up

  • The members conducting the inquiry transmit their findings to the Committee. The Committee considers this information, in conjunction with all other information available, to adopt final comments and recommendations, which it then sends to the state
  • The state is asked to respond within six months
  • Subsequent to this, states may also be requested to report on implementation of the recommendations, and also to include follow-up information in their regular state reports to the Committee

iconLockWant more? Submissions to the CEDAW Committee and reports on previous country inquiries can be found on the OHCHR website

Contact Information

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Human Rights Treaties Division (HRTD)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson – 52, rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland)

Mailing address
CH-1211 Geneva 10 (Switzerland)
Tel. +41 22 917 94 43 | Fax +41 22 917 90 08

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