A landmark U.N. treaty on women’s rights, which will be 30 years old next week, is in danger of being politically undermined by a slew of reservations by 22 countries seeking exemptions from some of the convention’s legal obligations. “A reservation must not defeat the object and purpose of a treaty,” Ambassador Palitha Kohona, a former chief of the U.N. Treaty Section, told IPS.
This essay argues that CEDAW’s concept of equality is what is needed to end discrimination against women. It first traces the background of the controversy over the use of the terms equity and equality in international human rights law. Finally, to further demonstrate the importance of CEDAW’s principles of equality, and particularly that of substantive equality, it provides some illustrations of the positive impact these principles have had on domestic gender jurisprudence.