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Last week the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published a follow-up report on the UK’s implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The UK ratified CEDAW in 1986 and in doing so agreed to be bound by the obligations within the convention.

The UK was last reviewed by the CEDAW Committee in 2019 to assess how well it was doing on realised the rights within the convention in the UK. This new report from the EHRC will help to inform the CEDAW Committee’s assessment of the UK’s progress since 2019.

In particular the report focuses on some key areas of concern that the Committee highlighted in 2019 including:

  • incorporation of the CEDAW in domestic law – the report highlights that while advances have been made in Scotland and Wales in relation to this issue, the UK Government has not taken any steps to directly incorporate CEDAW into domestic law. Indeed, as the report highlights the UK Government has recently reiterated its belief that ‘the UN human rights treaties … do not require incorporation by States Parties into domestic law, and the UK has not done so’.
  • inclusion of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (EU Charter) in domestic legislation – the EHRC confirmed its position that they oppose any changes to the Human Rights Act that had the effect – intended or otherwise – of reducing the protection of rights or access to justice. Following the loss of the EU Charter (see our blog) the EHRC calls on the UK Government to conduct ongoing analysis of the impact on women’s rights, including the loss of the rights to equality of treatment and to an effective remedy, and take necessary steps to address any gaps in rights protections.
  • establishment of a national oversight mechanism to coordinate and monitor the implementation of CEDAW and other UN treaties that the UK has ratified – this is with the aim of ensuring a joined-up approach to implementation of the UK’s obligations at a domestic level, and reflects recommendations from various UN committees, including CEDAW.

We welcome this strong and clear report from the EHRC and look forward to seeing what steps the UK Government will take to further realise the rights of women. For more about the rights of women, check out our recent blog on a recent UN report on the rights of older women.