By Res. 58/185, the UN General Assembly requested the Secretary-General “to conduct an in-depth study on all forms of violence against women” as identified in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and issue a report with recommendations that include preventive and rehabilitative measures to be considered for adoption by states. The Secretary-General released an interim report in August to summarize the progress that has been made and the plan that is in place for completing the final report.
The interim report discusses subsequent resolutions passed by the General Assembly, which address specific issues of violence against women and request the Secretary-General to submit the report on violence against women during the Assembly’s 60th session. The introduction to the interim report explains that various factors, including preparation by the Commission on the Status of Women for Beijing +10 and the “limited capacity of the Secretariat” have delayed the completion of the report. The study and the resulting report will be submitted during the sixty-first session of the General Assembly.
In the meantime, the interim report provides information about the status of the study. It indicates that the study is intended as a “vehicle for galvanizing attention to the issue” of violence against women and a way to “strengthen concerted action at the national and international levels.” The report lays out the context and the international law upon which the study is based and the method by which the study is being carried out. The study was commissioned to build on the efforts of national, international and non-governmental actors to document and combat violence against women. It is particularly aimed at documenting and understanding the types and the extent of violence against women in all areas of the world.
The study will shed light on the pervasiveness of violence against women and will expose where there are gaps in the existing data. It will include information about the causes, consequences and costs of the violence and offer strategies for overcoming obstacles that currently prevent the elimination of such violence. Best practices of various actors will be highlighted and can be used as models to achieve effective implementation of the commitments that governments have already made by signing and ratifying various international texts. The study will review the existing human rights framework to determine the responsibilities of States “to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons, as well as to provide remedies for victims.”
The preparation of the study has entailed the participation of UN entities, UN Member States, non-governmental organizations and others, as well as the creation of two consultative mechanisms, a Task Force and an advisory committee. The Task Force “serves as the main conduit for information exchange and for channeling information, comments and suggestions to the Secretariat.” The advisory committee is made up of 10 experts on violence against women who provide guidance and advice regarding the preparation of the study. Information has been gathered from numerous sources within the UN system, including from the treaty bodies, the Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and many others.
To conclude the study, there will be additional briefings, consultations and workshops targeted at “all interested stakeholders” in an attempt to strengthen their commitment to wholeheartedly accept and act upon the final report when it is released. Although “[a]n extensive framework of standards and norms to combat violence against women exists... such violence persists in epidemic proportions in all parts of the world, and new forms of violence against women emerge.” It is imperative for stakeholders to become accountable for change. The interim report explains the hope that active involvement during the preparation of the study will lead to effective action.
A preliminary outline of the study is available in the Annex to the interim report.
Compiled from: "Violence Against Women: Report of the Secretary-General," United Nations (A/60/211), 10 August 2005.