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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2011

1 - Introduction


On the concluding day of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations declared: ‘The movement for gender equality the world over has been one of the defining developments of our time.’ He added that, despite progress having been made, ‘much, much more remains to be done’. This book explores how the international human rights legal system has been affected by the campaign for women's equality; and conversely, what this campaign means for women's human rights. Specifically, it assesses the legal responses of the international human rights system to violence against women.

Its principal focus is on the work of the United Nations human rights treaty bodies owing to their role as the main monitoring mechanisms that oversee the implementation of international human rights treaties by states parties. However, it also considers the most important jurisprudence of various other international and regional human rights and criminal law tribunals, commissions, and courts due to their influence on the work of the international treaty body system as well as international law more broadly. My focus is on the way these international human rights institutions have responded to the issue of violence against women in light of the absence of any explicit human rights prohibition at the level of international human rights law.