High Commissioner for Human Rights and U.N. Expert Call for Protection of Women's Rights as Way to Curb Gender Violence
Thursday, November 25, 2004 8:45 AM


25 November 2004

Following is a joint statement by Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Yakin Ert¸rk, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women, its causes and consequences, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:

"Today's commemoration reminds us that, even after decades of struggle, violence against women remains a major impediment to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in every country in the world. In conflict and in peacetime, in the private and public spheres, violence against women is perhaps the most pervasive of all violations of human rights. Too often such violence is tolerated and its perpetrators excused.

States have an obligation to protect women's rights, provide justice for victims and hold perpetrators accountable. Inadequate legislation must be reformed and existing legal protection must be implemented effectively. This necessitates more than rhetorical commitment: it requires resources to improve access to justice, to train and sensitize judges, legal professionals and law enforcement officials at all levels, to provide shelter and legal assistance to victims, and to launch effective public awareness campaigns.

We would like to thank the women's movement for being at the forefront of the struggle and in particular for the special activities they will be undertaking in the coming days till 10 December, Human Rights Day. We welcome this significant initiative and urge the international community to address this issue in concrete terms.

Eliminating gender-based violence remains one of the most difficult challenges of our time. It requires both the resolve of the individual and the community and the political will of the state. We have developed tools for the elimination of violence against women; now we need effective implementation.

Today, we stand in solidarity with women everywhere who have suffered violence and who demand, with courage and perseverance, respect for their dignity".