Complaint Mechanism - Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
last updated 31 May 2013 – Information is subject to change. Please check the Committee website for updates.
Type of Mechanism
Complaint Procedure under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Scope of the Procedure
Who Can Submit a Complaint[1]
Individuals or groups of individuals, under the jurisdiction of a State party to the Optional Protocol, claiming to be victims of violations of any rights contained in the Covenant; or NGOs acting on the behalf of a victim or group of victims and with their consent.
Role of Advocates[2]
NGOs may submit communications on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of violations of the Covenant. NGOs submitting complaints on behalf of individuals must show proof of consent to the submission of the complaint or justification for not obtaining consent. Because the Committee meetings in which the communication is considered are closed, advocates are not able to participate in the examination process. 
Available Remedies[3]
The Committee may at any time request that the State issue interim measures to protect the victim(s). Once a determination of the merits has been reached, the Committee may issue a finding on behalf of the victim(s). The Committee’s finding as well as any recommendations the Committee may have are transmitted to the State party, which then has six months to submit a response indicating the action taken. In cases of "grave and systematic violations" by a State party, the Committee may also initiate its own inquiry into the situation.
What the Complaint should Include
The subject of the complaint must indicate a violation of the provisions of CEDAW, must be substantiated (including relevant facts and any supporting documentation), must not be incompatible with the treaty, must not be anonymous, and must not have occurred prior to the entry into force of the Protocol for the State party, unless the violation has continued. The complaint must include information showing that the victim has exhausted domestic remedies or provide evidence that national remedies are unavailable or ineffective. The complaint should also indicate whether the matter is or has been a subject of international investigation or settlement.
Complaints which have been previously examined by the Committee or are the subject of any other international investigation will not be considered. Complainants are encouraged to use the model form (see Information note on the submission of individual complaints under the CEDAW Optional Protocol under Petitions) for complaint documentation. Additional information is available from the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.
Articles of the Convention Concerning Violence Against Women[4]
The Convention does not specifically address violence against women. However, General Recommendation 19, adopted by the Committee in 1992, includes an article-by-article interpretation, delineating how specific issues of gender-based violence are protected under the Convention. In addition, the Committee provides specific recommendations for State party action to eliminate violence against women.
Where to Send Communications
The complaint must be submitted in writing in one of the six official UN languages to:
Petitions Team
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

[1] CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] CEDAW, General Recommendation 19 (11th session, 1992),