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Nothing in this Charter may be construed or interpreted as impairing the rights and freedoms protected by the domestic laws of the States parties or those set force in the international and regional human rights instruments which the states parties have adopted or ratified, including the rights of women, the rights of the child and the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
Article 43, Arab Charter on Human Rights (emphasis added)
The Arab Charter on Human Rights (‘the Charter’) was adopted at the 26th Summit of the Heads of States in Tunis (2004). After seven states had ratified the Charter, it entered into force in 2008.
- Egypt (signed, not ratified)
- Morocco (signed, not ratified)
- Saudi Arabia
- Sudan (signed, not ratified)
- Tunisia (signed, not ratified)
- United Arab Emirates
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How does it help tackle violence against women?
The Charter consists of 53 articles that outline the human rights framework for the LAS. Article 1 to Article 42 outline the core rights guaranteed by the Charter, and Article 45 establishes the Arab Human Rights Committee to oversee the Charter’s implementation. It is the only treaty in the LAS to have a supervisory mechanism written into the treaty itself.
Several articles within the Charter specifically mention the status of women. These provide important starting points for talking about violence against women in the context of the Charter. For example, Article 33 states (emphasis added):
2. The State and society shall ensure the protection of the family, the strengthening of family ties, the protection of its members and the prohibition of all forms of violence or abuse in the relations among its members, and particularly against women and children. They shall also ensure the necessary protection and care for mothers, children, older persons and persons with special needs and shall provide adolescents and young persons with the best opportunities for physical and mental development.
Equality within the family is a fundamental human right and is necessary for eliminating all forms of violence against women. Although this article does not directly acknowledge this right, it does recognise the family as a site where discriminatory violence often occurs. By including the prohibition of all forms of violence or abuse, the Article also allows civil society to include information on family violence in parallel reports submitted to the Arab Committee on Human Rights. There has been international criticism of the Charter’s limited protection of women’s rights and inconsistencies with international human rights standards. However, the treaty contains the potential to promote and progress human rights in the region. Careful reading of the Charter reveals both the possibilities for and limitations of using the Charter as a tool to combat violence against women.