Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspectives

By Rebecca J. Cook | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Toward More Effective Enforcement of Women's Human Rights Through the Use of International Human Rights Law and Procedures

Andrew Byrnes


Introduction

The proliferation of human rights standards at the international level in the last forty-five years has been a striking feature of the development of international law in that period. While there had previously been international concern with issues that we would now characterize as human rights issues, the volume and scope of international and regional instruments in the field of human rights is now extensive.

This period has also seen some important developments in the recognition by the international community that sex/gender is an important category of analysis when it comes to examining the enjoyment of human rights, a recognition reflected in particular in the elaboration of a number of important instruments dealing with discrimination against women.1

As a result, the extent of formal protection of the rights of women under general human rights law and gender specific regimes is quite extensive (although largely worked out through a non-discrimination framework). This is not to say that there are not important areas in which the further elaboration or formulation of substantive norms is desirable.2 Furthermore, like other areas of international human rights, the gap between the formal guarantees and the extent to which the rights are actually enjoyed in practice is frequently a wide one.

In addition to the development of substantive norms, many bodies and procedures have been established to promote the implementation

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