Lao PDR and Timor-Leste and the Convention on the Elimination of the Discrimination against Women

This page provides information relating to the forthcoming consideration by the Committee on Elimination of the Discrimination against Women in New York of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s record on implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women since 1982 (deadline for the first report), and the initial report from Timor-Leste.

What is the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women?

The Convention was adopted on 18 December 1979 by the UN General Assembly and is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

The Convention defines discrimination against women as “...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

What does the Convention mean for both countries?

By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:

  • to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
  • to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
  • to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. CEDAW’s Committee consists of 23 women’s rights experts from around the world.

What is treaty reporting?

Countries who have become party to the treaty (States parties) are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights of the Convention are implemented. During its sessions the Committee considers each State party report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations.

In accordance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention, the Committee is mandated to: (1) receive communications from individuals or groups of individuals submitting claims of violations of rights protected under the Convention to the Committee and (2) initiate inquiries into situations of grave or systematic violations of women’s rights. These procedures are optional and are only available where the State concerned has accepted them.

The Committee also formulates general recommendations and suggestions. General recommendations are directed to States and concern articles or themes in the Conventions.

Lao PDR and Timor-Leste reporting under the Convention

Reporting to the Committee is an opportunity for both governments from Lao PDR and Timor-Leste to present the steps they have taken to develop the countries for the benefit of their citizens and to seek advice from the Committee’s experts on areas where more progress is required.

LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC

LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICLao’s initial report was due on 13 September 1982. It should subsequently have reported in 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998. The Committee received its initial report on 02 February 2003. The last report was due on 13 September 2002, and it was submitted on 25 May 2008.

The Committee on the Elimination of the Discrimination against Women has decided that it will consider the situation in Lao PDR at its forty-forth session in July-August 2009. It has requested Lao PDR to submit the 6th report by September 2002 and the 7th report by late September 2006 in a combined report.

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TIMOR-LESTE

TIMOR-LESTETimor-Leste’s initial report was due on 16 May 2004 and was presented on 22 April 2008.

A delegation from both governments will be invited to attend the session in New York in order to discuss the report through what is called a “constructive dialogue”.

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Can NGOs and other civil society representatives participate in the process?

Since its early sessions, the Committee has invited non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to follow its work as reflected in its rules of procedure. In order to ensure that it is as informed as possible, the Committee and the pre-session working group welcome representatives of national and international NGOs to provide country-specific information on States parties whose reports are before it. This can be done orally or in writing. The Committee encourages international NGOs and United Nations organizations, funds and programmes to facilitate attendance at Committee sessions by representatives of national NGOs.

Click here for more information on NGOs participation.