Multilateralism, Treaties, Laws & Conventions

Through multilateralism, countries work together to establish international standards and norms and to share responsibilities for their application. Organizations such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization are primary examples of multilateral institutions. Since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, nine core international human rights treaties have been ratified. These include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Also known as the international bill of rights for women, CEDAW was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. So far, 185 countries have ratified CEDAW, with the United States being one of only eight countries that are not parties to the convention. International human rights agreements such as CEDAW benefit women by protecting their interests across borders and cultures. Governments are required to report regularly to monitoring bodies, and non-governmental organizations often submit dissenting views providing alternative evidence and information on compliance.

Progress of the World's Women

UN report Progress of the World’s Women outlines ten recommendations to make justice systems work for women. They are proven and achievable and, if implemented, they hold enormous potential to increase women’s access to justice and advance gender equality.


Gender Equality and Female Empowerment

Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), launched the Agency's new Policy on Gender Equality and Female Empowerment.
Citing its importance, Dr. Shah stated, "We know that long-term, sustainable development will only be possible when women and men enjoy equal opportunity to rise to their potential. But today, women and girls continue to face disadvantages in every sector in which we work, and in other cases, boys are falling behind. With this policy, we can ensure our values and commitments are reflected in durable, meaningful results for all."
USAID Deputy Administrator, Ambassador Donald Steinberg, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Development, and other senior White House officials participated in the launch.

Women, Peace, and Security - US Policy Should Support UNSC Resolution 1325

By Shyama Venkateswar, Ph.D.*
The National Council for Research on Women participates in the US Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security. We are currently disseminating a statement and recommendations to encourage more robust US policies and programs to ensure that women's voices and organizations are fully represented throughout diplomacy, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. In publishing this statement, the Working Group aims to transform declaratory support into concrete action and engender effective outcomes that bring peace, security, and dignity to the lives of women, men, and chiildren in conflict and crisis settings. Please help us spread the word about this important initiative. Click here to read the statement.

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US Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana - Author Series Event


Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Fellow and Women and Foreign Policy Program Deputy Director,
Council on Foreign Relations

Expert Profile

United States
40° 45' 9.2988" N, 73° 58' 11.5392" W

Since May 2008, Pamela Shifman has served as the Director of Initiatives for Women and Girls at the NoVo Foundation, where she directs its work on empowering adolescent girls in the developing world and ending violence against girls and women. Prior to joining NoVo, she worked at UNICEF, working closely with its country offices in Darfur, Sudan, Eastern Congo, Liberia, Nepal and other conflict affected countries to improve efforts to end violence against girls and women. Pamela also served as the Co-Executive Director of Equality Now, where she focused on trafficking of girls and women and sex tourism, and acted as legal advisor for the ANC Parliamentary Women's Caucus in South Africa. She has taught Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan and at Hunter College, and holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School.


New York, NY 10017
United States
40° 45' 9.2988" N, 73° 58' 11.5392" W

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ELECTION 2010: CEDAW—It’s More Than Just Words

By Martha F. Davis* 

By itself, CEDAW (the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) is just words. But these words can have an important function in setting an agenda for women's rights in the U.S. and providing international comparators of our progress.

The U.S. is one of the very few countries worldwide that has failed to ratify CEDAW. As a result, the U.S. does not participate in the international monitoring process that requires periodic reporting to the CEDAW Committee of international experts on our nation's progress and steady efforts toward achieving women's equality.

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Human Rights for Women and People with Disabilities

By Alexandra Mazzeo*

Yesterday, The Opportunity Agenda and the U.S. Human Rights Network hosted a telebriefing on two key human rights treaties and efforts toward U.S. ratification.

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