Morocco: Morocco withdraws reservations to CEDAW
The long-awaited move drew praise from civil society; the women's movement had made repeated calls for officials to take the necessary steps to apply the convention in Morocco.
Professor and researcher Malika Benradi noted that Morocco ratified the convention in 1993 with reservations, refusing to enforce any clauses opposing national or Islamic law. For example, Benradi explained that Article 9 deals with the right of a mother to transmit her citizenship to her children; a form of discrimination that Morocco abandoned in 2007.
Article 16 states that both spouses are equal at the moment of, during, and after the dissolution of a marital union. For example, under Moroccan law, there is no true equality between the spouses in terms of providing for one's household, which is solely the husband's duty. Benradi noted that "the retraction of reservations allows for progress, but it is already being debated, particularly with regards to religious issues such as inheritance."
Minister of Social Development, Family and Solidarity Nouzha Skalli expressed her satisfaction with the King's message. In her view, the move confirms Morocco's desire to be forward-looking in terms of women's rights. She added that "the withdrawal of the country’s reservations coincided with a number of other plans launched by Morocco," and "the country is well on the way to becoming an upholder of human rights."
The Moroccan Human Rights Organisation likewise welcomed the move. "Arrangements need to be put in place to enforce this international convention," said the president of the organisation, Amina Bouayache. She added that "Morocco now finds itself in a new set of circumstances. Other initiatives must also be taken, in particular reforms to the constitution and domestic law regarding civil rights and other forms of equality."
Khadija Riyadi, president of the Moroccan Human Rights Association, commented, "The Family Code needs to be amended, especially with regards to those articles that discriminate against women." She added that examples of discrimination pertain to "marriage with foreign nationals, the fact that legal guardianship is always granted to a child's father, inheritance, and polygamy."
The president of the Union for Women’s Action, Nezha Alaoui, noted that in withdrawing its reservations, Morocco "has removed all barriers to the establishment of full equality between men and women in the areas of economic, social and political law."
The president of the Democratic Women's Rights League, Fouzia Assouli, said that "the move was a minor revolution in terms of establishing the principle of equality between men and women – a principle for which the women's movement has fought for many years."
However, not everyone was pleased with the king's announcement. Mustapha Ramid, head of the Justice and Development Party's group in parliament stated that issues pertaining to Islamic law cannot be replaced. "We cannot lift all reservations to the point of achieving total equality, because this point is governed by sharia."
17 December 2008
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat
The withdrawal of the reservations to CEDAW by Morocco
The royal letter to the Moroccan Consultative Council of human rights (CCDH) on December 10th, 2008 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, announced the withdrawal of the reservations expressed to CEDAW at its ratification by Morocco in 1993.
On this occasion, the ADFM welcomes the Royal statement that carries a political and universal message worthy of the commemorated event and would like to call to mind the practice of Morocco in relation to CEDAW on the eve of the 30th anniversary of its enactment:
- Morocco has waited 14 years before ratifying the Convention in 1993, on the fringes of the Vienna international conference.
- In addition to the delay in ratification, the extent and nature of reservations on the most important articles of CEDAW (Articles 2-9-15-16) emptied the ratification of its purpose and its essence.
- Morocco had then waited nearly 8 years before publishing the text of the Convention in the Official Bulletin (2001) which is an essential condition for its entry into force and its admissibility in the national legal standard.
- Then waited another 4 years before starting thinking about the lifting of reservations (2005), on the eve of the preparations for its candidacy to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
- Thereafter, Morocco has declared its intention to lift some partial reservations and replace others by some explanatory statements and also to join the Additional Protocol of CEDAW.
- Finally, during the current year, Morocco has reaffirmed its intention to lift its reservations to the CEDAW and to join the additional protocol, in two UN international review sessions: the Moroccan report on the implementation of the Convention to the CEDAW Committee (January 2008) and during the process of the universal periodic review (UPR, April 2008).
However, to date, the Secretary General of the United Nations has not yet received any official document to that effect.
In the days ahead, the government will certainly look into the consideration of modalities for the lifting of reservations after the long journey that the women's movement has supported for nearly two decades (conferences, inquiries, open letters, sit - in, setting up the "Equality without reservation" campaign and so on….)
We hope that the Royal letter will urge the Government to put a happy ending to its tumultuous and ambiguous relationship with the reservations and to inform the United Nations SG of the decision of Morocco to withdraw all reservations on CEDAW - without exception – and to ratify its Additional Protocol.
Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM)
15 - 12 – 2008