In October 1999, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (otherwise known as the Women’s Convention). As of September 2000, 62 states have signed the Optional Protocol, and nine of these have ratified it. Women’s rights activists hope that through the Protocol, the international legal system will lead governments to address the issue of violence against women and other violations of their rights. This article charts the development of the Optional Protocol, and assesses the difference it will make to women who face violations of their human rights.
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