Advocating Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland: Local and Global Tensions
Social and Legal Studies, Volume 25, Issue 6, 716-740 (2016)
33 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2018
Date Written: December 1, 2016
It is frequently claimed that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is more significant for the cultural, rather than legal, work that it does in re-framing locally contested gender issues as the subject of international human rights. While this argument is well-developed in respect of violence against women, CEDAW’s cultural traction is less clear in respect of women’s right to access safe and legal abortion. This article examines the request made jointly by Alliance for Choice, the Family Planning Association Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform to the CEDAW Committee to request an inquiry under the CEDAW Optional Protocol into access to abortion in the jurisdiction. The study found that the CEDAW framework was useful in underpinning alliances between diverse pro-choice organisations, but less effective in securing the support of ‘mainstream’ human rights organisations in the jurisdiction. The article argues that the local cultural possibilities of CEDAW must be understood as embedded within both the broader structural gendered limitations of international human rights law and persistent regressive gendered sub-themes within mainstream human rights advocacy.
Keywords: International human rights law, transnational advocacy, Northern Ireland, abortion laws, CEDAW, Optional Protocol Inquiry
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