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The CEDAW Committee and uncertainty in relation to violence against women

The recurring difficulty to clearly ensure the transition of the prohibition of violence against women from soft to hard law did not stop the CEDAW Committee from systematically raising the issue with states parties when considering complaints submitted by individuals and reports by states. How did the Committee approach this task? What strategies and language allow it to address the issue despite apparent lack of international consensus for the adoption of a specific hard law instrument on the issue? The overall strategy of the Committee remained the same as the one adopted at the very beginning of its work on the topic: to subsume the prohibition of violence against women under other substantive provisions of the CEDAW, with the prohibition of discrimination being the most general and the most far-reaching. However, it is important to take a closer look at the way the Committee employed this strategy and to consider the responses of states. In the following pages such an analysis is provided with a discussion of the jurisprudence under the CEDAW and the Committee’s consideration of states’ reports.

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