United Nations Documents that Protect Women's Rights
last updated May 2013
The United Nations has made clear that violence against women is a violation of basic human rights. The United Nations has promulgated treaties, recommendations, declarations and guidelines that directly address the rights of women and girls and outline government obligations to protect these rights. The fundamental documents outlining these rights are summarized in the following sections. All UN basic human rights documents apply without regard to sex or age, meaning their provisions apply equally to women and men, as well as to girls and boys. Finally, women are disproportionately victims of certain specific human rights violations, such as trafficking and sexual assault during armed conflict. The United Nations addresses such violations through thematic human rights documents.
The UN also reiterates the prohibition against gender-based violence within the texts of world conference documents. Since the 1995 Fourth World Conference in Beijing, such conference documents consistently include strong language prohibiting gender-based violence and calling upon participating states to combat all forms of violence against women and girls. The statements included in the conference documents represent the international consensus on violence against women.
The Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, who serves as an independent expert to the U.N., presents annual reports that recommend best practices and model legislation to the UN Human Rights Council on a thematic topic related to the causes and consequences of violence against women.