Drafting the Legislative Preamble
last updated October 2014

In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at www.endvawnow.org.

The legislative preamble sets the stage for the entire piece of legislation. The following elements are important to a strong and inclusive legislative preamble:

    IT acknowledges that the root cause of violence against women is the subordinate status of women in society. (See: DEVAW, General Recommendation 19, UN Secretary-General’s study on violence against women, and Stop VAW, The Advocates for Human Rights: Other Causes and Complicating Factors and The International Legal Framework)

    IT defines discrimination against women. United Nations Handbook for legislation against women (hereinafter UN Handbook, 3.1.1)

    IT protects all women and girls. UN Handbook, 3.1.3.

    IT excludes customary or religious justifications for forced and child marriage and polygamy. UN Handbook, 3.1.5; the Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, a framework for model legislation on domestic violence, 1996, E/CN.4/1996/53/Add.2; CEDAW, Art. 2(f), 5(a).

    IT states that the main principles of the legislation are to promote safety for the complainant/survivor and accountability for the perpetrator. (See: Drafting Domestic Violence Laws; United Nations Model LegislationUnited Nations Model Legislation, Stop VAW, Advocates for Human Rights) 

    IT states that everyone has the right to personal liberty and security (ICCPR, Art. 9(1))

    IT states that everyone is entitled to equal rights and responsibilities as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (See: Convention of Civil and Political Rights , Art. 23 (hereinafter ICCPR) and CEDAW, Art. 16)

    IT states that no marriage is to be entered into without the free and full consent of both parties Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages, Art. 1(1)

    IT recognizes that every child has the right to a “standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development” (Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art. 27(1))