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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Women's Rights Treaty Turns 30; Time for the U.S. to Ratify

December 18, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Ratify CEDAW Now

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations' adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) – a comprehensive international treaty that outlines standards for ratifying countries to meet in the treatment and rights of women. 

CEDAW is a critical tool that countries can use to promote the adoption of national laws, policies, and practices to ensure that women and girls live free from violence, have access to quality education, and have the right to participate fully in the economic, political, and social sectors of their society. 

Ratifying countries must report to the U.N. every four years on their compliance with the treaty.  It has been ratified by 186 countries.  The United States is one of only seven countries that have not, along with Sudan, Iran, and Somalia.

The Leadership Conference is currently leading a campaign to urge the U.S. to ratify CEDAW. U.S. ratification of the treaty is critical to advancing women's rights and to restoring the credibility of the U.S. as a country committed to protecting human rights at home and abroad.

In his testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights earlier this week, The Leadership Conference President and CEO Wade Henderson said that human rights treaties "are not only a set of universal ethical standards and global norms embodying the aspirations of people all over the world, but also potentially effective tools useful in illuminating and addressing persistent inequities here at home."

Henderson said that The Leadership Conference is "ready to collaborate closely with the Senate and the Obama administration to secure ratification" of the treaty.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both expressed support for U.S. ratification of CEDAW.  Treaty ratification requires the approval of two-thirds of the Senate. The Senate has not taken up CEDAW ratification before, though it has been reported favorably twice from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with bipartisan support in the 1990s and again in 2002. 

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