I am writing to ask you as a matter of urgency to support the creation by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a special mechanism on women’s equality before the law, including through our government’s active engagement in a half-day discussion devoted to addressing discrimination against women at the September 2010 session of the Human Rights Council.
A special mechanism – such as a special rapporteur, independent expert, or working group – within the United Nations system is needed to ensure full implementation of the commitment in the Beijing Platform for Action to ensure equality and non-discrimination under the law and in practice. In October 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution noting that “although human rights treaty bodies and special procedures do, to some extent, address discrimination against women within their mandates, their attention to such discrimination is not systematic.” The resolution further “[c]alls upon States to fulfill their international obligations and commitments to revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex” and requested the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the issue of discrimination against women, in law and in practice, and on how it is addressed throughout the UN system. I understand this report will form the basis of the half-day discussion at the 15th session of the Human Rights Council, to be held from 13 September – 1 October 2010, in order for the Human Rights Council to consider taking further action at that session to end discrimination against women, which I hope will include creation of a new mechanism to focus on women’s legal equality.
This is a concrete action our government can take which will positively affect all women’s lives. Thank you very much for your attention.