Violence Against Women: Normative Developments in the Inter-American Human Rights System
Violence Against Women: Normative Developments in the Inter-American Human Rights System (Chapter 6) in THE LEGAL PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM VIOLENCE: NORMATIVE GAPS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, eds. Rashida Manjoo and Jackie Jones, Routledge Press (2018).
61 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2017 Last revised: 26 Oct 2018
Date Written: April 1, 2018
The Inter-American human rights system is arguably the world’s most well-developed and effective human rights system in the violence against women context. The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (known familiarly as the “Belém do Pará Convention”), adopted in 1994, is the first specific instrument adopted on violence against women (VAW), and is the most ratified instrument in the Inter-American system. Other regional human rights instruments also recognize several core rights related to VAW, including the rights to life, non-discrimination, equal protection, physical and mental integrity, personal liberty, dignity, privacy, family, and access to justice. The Belém do Pará Convention builds upon this foundation and provides specific norms applicable to the context of VAW. It is the only human rights treaty directed solely toward eradicating violence against women that includes an individual complaint mechanism. Despite serious limitations, the Inter-American system has an increasingly-effective track record.
The Inter-American system directly addresses issues of state responsibility for responding to violence against women, broadens possibilities of a shared understanding for what it means to exercise due diligence in VAW cases, creates certainty in standards, and has served as a mobilizing force for advocates and survivors. Despite these positive developments, there are legitimate concerns about the norms, structure, and position of the Inter-American system. Any effort to replicate the Belém do Pará Convention on the international level would be well-served by reviewing the successes, challenges, and limitations of the Inter-American system’s experience in the VAW context.
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