Northern Ireland Government in spotlight at the UN
This week the UK Government is being examined at the United Nations by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The formal inquiry of the UK by the CEDAW Committee will take place on Wednesday 17 July. In preparation for the formal hearing on Wednesday, members of the CEDAW Committee were briefed on key issues relating to women’s equality by expert voluntary organisations including organizations from Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform (NIWEP), the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) and the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)).
When the UK Government was last examined by the CEDAW Committee in 2008 the Committee was extremely critical of Northern Irelands record on women’s human rights particularly the low numbers of women in public and political life, the severe restriction on women’s access to abortion services, the poor facilities for women in prison and issues affecting ethnic minority and Traveller women.
On Wednesday it is likely that Northern Ireland will once again be in the spotlight and officials from Northern Ireland could face some tough questions. Evidence was submitted in advance of the examination by voluntary organizations, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and all point to a shocking lack of progress with regard to the recommendations made by the Committee in 2008.
It will be clear by tomorrow evening what the Committee is focusing on and what can be expected in terms of recommendations.
Contact for further information- Dr Anne Marie Gray (NIWEP) or Emma Patterson-Bennett (CAJ) on 447748 064620 or 007581474454 who are both attending the examination in Geneva.
 he United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), an expert body established in 1982, is composed of 23 experts on women’s issues from around the world.
The Committee’s mandate is very specific: it watches over the progress for women made in those countries that are the States parties to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. A country becomes a State party by ratifying or acceding to the Convention and thereby accepting a legal obligation to counteract discrimination against women. The Committee monitors the implementation of national measures to fulfil this obligation.
At each of its sessions, the Committee reviews national reports submitted by the States parties within one year of ratification or accession, and thereafter every four years. These reports, which cover national action taken to improve the situation of women, are presented to the Committee by Government representatives. In discussions with these officials, the CEDAW experts comment on the report and obtain additional information. This procedure of actual dialogue, developed by the Committee, has proven valuable because it allows for an exchange of views and a clearer analysis of anti-discrimination policies in the various countries.
The Committee also makes recommendations on any issue affecting women to which it believes the States parties should devote more attention- more information at the following links: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/membership.htm and http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/committee.htm