Women’s Rights, International Law and Domestic Politics: Explaining CEDAW’s Effectiveness
34 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 28 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
Demonstrable positive effects of the United Nations’ international human rights treaties have generally eluded researchers. The vast majority of quantitative research provides little evidence of treaty effectiveness. The Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an exception. It has a statistically significant and positive effect on women’s rights. This result is counter-intuitive, given that CEDAW has enforcement mechanisms as weak, if not weaker, than other human rights treaties. Furthermore, women’s rights are implicated in deeply ingrained cultural systems that are difficult to change. This paper examines CEDAW’s effectiveness, suggesting that domestic dynamics put in motion by the treaty are likely responsible for its effectiveness, rather than international enforcement mechanisms.
Keywords: CEDAW, women's rights, human rights
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