GENEVA (27 June 2019) – “A new system-wide global approach is necessary to eliminate violence against women and girls,”  said Dubravka Šimonović, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, in a report today to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“I believe that the establishment of a platform for cooperation between international  and regional independent women’s human rights mechanisms will do much to address the mounting  push back movements against women’s rights, and will demonstrate its support for popular movements, such as #MeToo and #Ni Una Menos, and their various manifestations across the world,” said the expert.

“Endemic, persistent and systematic violence continues to blight the lives of women and girls all over the world. A new global system-wide response would strengthen the implementation of States human rights obligations under the UN and regional women’s human rights instruments to prevent and combat  violence against women and impose zero tolerance on any such violence, a scourge that has been accepted as part of daily life,” Ms Šimonović said.

“As we approach the 25-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2020, we must ensure that that the progress that has been made in placing violence against women firmly on the international agenda as a violation of women’s human rights and a form of gender-based discrimination is not lost but upgraded. Women human rights mechanisms must also be included in this process.”

She said there is now an urgent need to address the significant implementation gap, and to accelerate the full incorporation and implementation of international, regional and national instruments on gender equality and violence against women.

“At present, there is no system-wide approach to the elimination of violence against women and I believe that the institutional establishment of international and regional independent women human rights mechanisms, that could speak with one voice on specific topics of joint concern, would contribute to this much-needed system-wide approach and would strengthen implementation efforts on the elimination of gender based violence against women and girls.

“A system-wide approach is necessary to accelerate equality between women and men and to eradicate gender-based violence,” Ms. Šimonović said.

“The existing human rights normative framework has been strengthened by the new CEDAW general recommendation 35 on gender-based violence against women, which should be promoted and implemented and in time could lead to the adoption of an Optional Protocol to CEDAW on violence against women. This would contribute to closing gaps in combating and preventing violence against women worldwide,” the expert said.

“As we look to the future, and in order to address the chilling impact that violence has on women, I believe that urgent action must be taken, not only by States, but also by non-State actors, as well as international organisations and independent monitoring mechanisms to collect data on violence and femicide against women and to focus on their prevention.

“All women, whether at the national or international levels, must be empowered to speak up and to report violence and receive support needed by States.  Such support should be in line with the CEDAW General Recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence against women, and through the revision of discriminatory laws and practices, as well as the adoption of new laws on violence against women and domestic violence,” Ms Šimonović said.

Ms. Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015, to recommend measures, ways and means, at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences. Ms. Šimonović has been member of the CEDAW Committee from 2002 to 2014. She headed the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia and was the Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Croatia to the UN in New York. She was also Ambassador to the OSCE and UN in Vienna. She co-chaired the Ad hoc Committee (CAHVIO) of the Council of Europe that elaborated the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).She has a PhD in Family Law and published books and articles on human rights and women’s rights.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.