The Human Rights of Women: International Instruments and African Experiences

Article excerpt

HUMAN RIGHTS Wolfgang Benedek, Esther Kisaakye, and Gerd Oberlietner, eds. The Human Rights of Women: International Instruments and African Experiences. London: Zed Books, 2002. Distributed by Palgrave. xv + 336 pp. Select Bibliography. Index. $69.95. Cloth. $29.95 Paper.

This is yet another collection of papers on the human rights of women, but one which, as the title indicates, focuses specifically on international instruments and African experiences. It emerged from a series of lectures given over several years at the annual Postgraduate Courses on the Human Rights of Women, organized by a group of organizations including the Austrian Committee of World University Service and the Human Rights and Peace Centre of Makerere University in Uganda. Papers in part 1 of the book examine and analyze existing human rights instruments, institutions, and processes which have implications for women's rights and gender equity, while part 2 focuses on concrete examples and issues of women's rights in Africa.

Christine Ainetter Brautigam's opening chapter, tided "International Human Rights Law: The Relevance of Gender," provides an excellent introduction to the book and to the development of relevant concepts, conventions, and institutions in this area. It is at once an informative and concise overview of this subject, including an analysis of trends to date in thinking on women and gender in international human rights law.

Six very informative chapters follow on international standards for equality, on nondiscrimmation and protection of women established under various international charters, declarations and conventions, as well as on processes for their enforcement. These chapters, which constitute part 1, necessarily involve considerable repetition in relation to certain key instruments and institutions, notably CEDAW and the Commission on the Status of Women. However, the authors must be commended for their analysis of different angles and perspectives on similar instruments, producing essays that are easy to read and avoid becoming simply recitations of statutory provisions, conventions, and facts. …