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Stealth treaty

"Stealth treaty" Continued...

Issue: "The Road to Cana," Feb. 23, 2008

Yoshihara said the Supreme Court has already set a "remarkable" precedent. In the landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case, it cited an amicus brief that used UN treaty-monitoring bodies to argue for homosexual rights.

Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, said efforts to elect pro-life committee members to CEDAW haven't worked: "Efforts to try to reform the CEDAW committee have just failed miserably. . . . It has been so overtaken by the abortion advocates." The committee once had a pro-life member, but Smith said other members ignored her and her country refused to renominate her.

Unfortunately, supporting CEDAW may not help oppressed women and has yet to change the fact that Saudi Arabian women ride gender-segregated buses and are not allowed to drive cars. When the committee heard Saudi Arabia's report this January, it rebuked the country for its system of male guardianship and failure to enact "a comprehensive gender equality law." The committee can only rebuke, though, and Saudi Arabian leaders made it clear that they see "no discrimination against women" and "no contradiction" between Shariah law and human rights.

Ruse said governments like Saudi Arabia's ratify human-rights treaties "to get the international feminists off their backs" but then ignore the treaties.

So what is the solution to the plight of women worldwide? Ruse said, "I don't think it's CEDAW. I think that it's increasingly enlightened democracy, but enlightened democracy doesn't come from UN documents. It comes from instilling things like the rule of law, property rights. . . . It's much more fundamental."

Wright agrees, saying real change comes when totalitarian governments institute democracy and the rule of law, "democracy that recognizes in the law that women are fully human beings and not property or a subclass of humans."

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end "any" discrimination. It was signed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1980 but has failed twice to be ratified by the U.S. Senate.

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