last updated January 13, 2011

Contributed by: Julia Spronz and Judit Herman, Hungary National VAW Monitors

Hungary has ratified virtually all UN human rights treaties that concern the situation of women. However, apart from formal ratification, the real spirit of these treaties is rarely reflected either in the public knowledge, everyday law enforcement practice, or legislative trends.

The main treaty dealing with women's human rights is the United Nations’ CEDAW Convention, the implementation of which is monitored by the CEDAW Committee – an international body of experts reviewing issues concerning the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. From 2002 to 2006, the Committee had a Hungarian member (Krisztina Morvai).

The CEDAW Convention, also known as law-decree 10 of 1982, is the basic document on human rights as regards the creation of equality between the sexes. Among other things, it defines principles such as the elimination of all forms of discrimination, providing equal rights to men and women, acknowledgment and implementation of women’s human rights and fundamental freedom on the basis of full equality of women. The ratifying countries – including Hungary – undertake the obligation that in order to achieve this goal, they will reform their existing legal frameworks and adopt appropriate legislation in accordance with the spirit of the Convention, and change discriminative practices of the national public authorities. The Republic of Hungary submits a report to the Committee describing the steps taken and results achieved in this field every four years. The CEDAW Committee considered Hungary’s latest report in 2002 at its exceptional session.

Apart from monitoring the implementation of the CEDAW Convention, the Committee’s other important function is to receive and consider complaints from individuals or groups from the state parties, claiming the violations of rights protected under the Convention. This quasi-juridical competence of the CEDAW Committee provides an additional supranational remedy for Hungarian nationals since 5 July 2001, as the Act LX of 2001 on ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women entitles Hungarian women to submit individual complaints directly to the Committee. The possibility granted by the Optional Protocol was taken up by a Hungarian woman who turned to the Committee about her ordeals involving domestic violence. In the first case filed and discussed about domestic violence, the Committee ruled that that Hungarian state has failed to protect her from her abusive husband. In its decision, the Committee also compelled the state to provide adequate protection for victims of domestic violence.

Apart from the CEDAW Convention there are a number of other UN conventions that can be associated with women’s human rights although these are not specifically mentioning women’s issues as much as mentioning more general terms. Such general conventions are the following:

1. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Details)

2. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Details)
3. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Details)
4. Convention on the Rights of the Child (Details)
5. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Details)
6. Convention against Torture and other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Details)