NLG urges ratification of CEDAW

The National Lawyers Guild sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary on November 16, 2010 urging that the U.S. ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Signed by NLG President David Gespass, the letter points out that the U.S.’s claimed commitment to women’s rights is belied by its failure to ratify this and other essential human rights treaties.

NLG Letter on CEDAW November 16, 2010

Senator Richard J. Durbin
Senator Tom Coburn
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Re: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

Dear Chairman Durban, Ranking Member Coburn, and Members of the Subcommittee:

The National Lawyers Guild submits this statement in strong support of ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women [CEDAW].

The NLG was formed in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which then prohibited membership by African American lawyers. The NLG was founded “to the end that human rights be regarded as more sacred than property interests.” We are committed to advocating for US ratification of the core Human Rights treaties, including CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Although the United States claims to be a leading voice for women’s rights and human rights, its failure to ratify CEDAW (to say nothing of the CRC and ICESCR) exposes its failure to comply with international norms. We are one of only seven countries in the world to have failed to ratify this landmark international human rights agreement, the others being Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and three small Pacific Islands. The United States’ absence from this global consensus undermines both the ideals of opportunity and equality set out in CEDAW and the position of the United States arrogates to itself as a global leader standing up for women and girls. By ratifying CEDAW, we would strengthen our global voice to the benefit of women and girls here and around the world.

CEDAW seeks to end both violence against women and trafficking, and to promote equal educational opportunity, improve women’s health, end discrimination in the workplace, and encourage women’s political participation. Most fundamentally, it recognizes that women’s rights are human rights, and that societies that empower women are prosperous, stable. Ratification of CEDAW, without reservations, declarations and understandings that limit its scope to what we already have, would indicate that the US is making a commitment to women’s progress at home and around the world. The Senate should vote to ratify CEDAW now.


David Gespass

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