Friday, 13 March 2015, 9:28 pm

Press Release: United Nations Human Rights Commissioner

UN Women and the Regional UN Human Rights Office for the Pacific welcome the Government of Tonga’s agreement to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

CEDAW is the principal UN treaty on women’s human rights. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979 and has so far been ratified by 188 countries. Any State that ratifies the convention is legally bound to eliminate discriminatory practices against women and girls and incorporate gender equality into law.

The agreement of Tonga to ratify CEDAW comes on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint for achieving gender equality and the focus of the 59th Commission on the Status of Women currently being held in New York.

In the lead-up to the adoption to the new Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals from September this year, UN Women has launched the Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality campaign. This campaign calls on all governments to make concrete commitments towards achieving gender equality by 2030.

“If we are to truly end gender inequality in the Pacific by 2030, we need to see urgent and concrete action from leaders across the region. This commitment from the Tongan Government is exactly the kind of progress we need to see and that the ‘Step it Up’ campaign is calling for,” says Nicolas Burniat, Deputy Representative and Officer in Charge of UN Women’s Fiji Multi-Country Office.

“Tonga’s decision to ratify CEDAW is an important step towards ending discrimination against women in the Pacific,” says Satya Jennings, Officer in Charge of the Regional UN Human Rights Office for the Pacific.

“It is encouraging that, with Tonga, all but one of the Pacific Island States and territories will have ratified CEDAW. Once Tonga has undergone the actual ratification process, the focus will need to be on effective implementation of the human rights treaty, for example by bringing national legislation in line with international standards.”

UN Women and the UN Human Rights Office continue their work to support Pacific States in achieving gender equality and ending discrimination against women.