Monday, October 3, 2016


The Human Rights Committee, in its general comment No. 18 (1989) on non-discrimination, and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in its general comments Nos. 16 (2005) on the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights and 20 (2009) on non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights, have also adopted the same principle of substantive equality when guaranteeing non-discrimination and equal enjoyment by men and women of civil and political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

 The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights explained in its general comment No. 16 (2005) that States parties to the Covenant are obliged to eliminate both direct and indirect discrimination. They must refrain from engaging in discriminatory practices, ensure that third parties do not discriminate in a forbidden manner and take positive action to guarantee women’s equality. The Committee further outlines how the obligation to ensure equality relates to the different provisions of the Covenant. Its general comment No. 20 (2009) also notes the importance of addressing both direct and indirect discrimination in laws, policies and practices, and multiple discrimination, an issue which particularly affects women.

In its general comment No. 28 (2000) on the equality of rights between men and women, the Human Rights Committee explains that States parties must not only remove obstacles to equality, but that they also have obligations to adopt positive measures to ensure equality. It further specifies that “States parties should ensure that traditional, historical, religious or cultural attitudes are not used to justify violations of women’s right to equality before the law and to equal enjoyment of all Covenant rights”. It then outlines specific obligations to ensure women’s equal rights in relation to the various articles of the Covenant.

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