Will CEDAW Bring A “Radical Transformation of American Law”?

by Julian Ku

I don’t know a lot about CEDAW, the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, but I know that lots of groups on both sides think the treaty is really important. For instance, in this post, a critic of CEDAW quotes a proponent of CEDAW, Janet Benshoof,  for the view that:

“[W]ere the United States (US) to ratify CEDAW, it would bring about a “radical transformation of American law,” which would include overturning any abortion restrictions in domestic laws or those covering foreign activities. Further, Benshoof asserted that CEDAW doesn’t allow for any defense based on custom or religion, and that it applies to all private conduct.

I guess my (admittedly not expert) reading doesn’t see where the big transformation is.  Not to mention the treaty is almost certainly non-self-executing.  But this debate may eventually come back to us when (or if) the Obama Administration makes a final push for CEDAW (although that will probably not be until Obama’s second term, if there is a second term).


One Response

  1. Just last week the Dutch Supreme Court relied on this treaty when it considered an orthodox christian party that refuses to admit women as members. (This is a serious party, they have two seats in parliament, going back more than 100 years.) This case, weighing as it does the CEDAW (and art. 1 Dutch Constitution) right to be free from discrimination against the freedom of association has kept Dutch legal scholars entertained (and employed) for a while now.  Now we’ll see what happens next, since the Court declared the Party’s position unlawful but refused to give specific orders either to the government (they declined to order the state to cease its subsidy) or to the party itself.

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