Which African states have ratified international laws on GBV?
Explore the table below to find out which African states have ratified the major international standards and instruments relating to gender-based violence.
Outlining the international standards which a country has bound itself to is a useful tool in understanding its obligations.
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A portal to enable and empower
Unpacking international laws and policies on GBV
In setting out fundamental human rights and freedoms, the International Covenant on Civil and Politics Rights (ICCPR) expressly requires State Parties to ensure equality between men and women in the enjoyment of all civil and political rights. Through its recognition of the inherent dignity of the human person, the Covenant prohibits discrimination on the basis of grounds such as race, colour, or sex. The ICCPR is overseen by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) seeks to protect, amongst others, the right to self-determination of all people, the right to non-discrimination, the right to work, and the right to protection and assistance to the family. As part of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) oversight function over the ICESCR, State Parties are required to file regular reports on measures taken to implement this covenant.
This UN Convention, also commonly referred to as the Women’s Bill of Rights, is largely regarded as the most comprehensive treaty dealing with women’s rights. It frames discrimination against women to broadly encompass any distinction, exclusion, or restriction on the basis of sex that impairs the enjoyment by women of political, social, cultural, or civil human rights on an equal footing with men. It provides that State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women and to ensure the full development and advancement of women. Importantly, the focus areas of CEDAW are civil rights and the political status of women, women’s reproductive rights, and the manner in which cultural patterns impact gender relations.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is a comprehensive pledge by the international community to advance women’s rights as well as to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It has been described by UN Women as a blueprint for the fight towards global gender equality. It expressly recognises the need to safeguard the rights of the girl child as “the woman of tomorrow”. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) reviews the progress on the implementation of the Platform.
The Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime places emphasis on the utility of close international cooperation to deal with this type of harm and upon ratification, States commit themselves domestically criminalising certain offences, putting into place measures for extradition, and creating law enforcement cooperation frameworks. It has been supplemented by several protocols including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol) is an internationally recognised agreement that aims to prevent, suppress, and punish human trafficking, specifically of women and children. It provides a shared legal framework for investigating and prosecuting trafficking offences across countries. The Palermo Protocol defines “child trafficking” as involving the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or reception of persons for the purpose of exploitation and, unlike adult trafficking, does not require the presence of means such as force or coercion. Additionally, the Palermo Protocol includes key provisions such as definitions of trafficking for child and adult victims, assistance and protection for victims, considerations for children’s needs, prevention measures, protection from unsafe returns, and criminal penalties for traffickers.