IWRAW AP - International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific






What is “From Global to Local”?

“From Global to Local” is a programme conducted by the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific). This programme is designed to fill the gap between human rights monitoring by the CEDAW Committee at the international level, and grassroots activism of NGOs demanding government accountability at the national level.

This is done by providing an opportunity for local and national non-governmental organisations, especially those focusing on women’s human rights, to engage with and impact the CEDAW review process of States parties to the CEDAW Convention through submission of alternative information (shadow reports) and dialogue with Committee members.

Through the From Global to Local programme, IWRAW Asia Pacific and national NGOs have had a continuous presence at CEDAW Sessions since 1997. As of January 2009, IWRAW Asia Pacific has worked with NGO representatives from 127 countries, making the programme truly global.

IWRAW Asia Pacific’s role as an international NGO in the CEDAW reporting process is unique in that IWRAW Asia Pacific does not submit information or speak on behalf of national groups or issues at the national level, but rather facilitates the presence of NGOs and women at the CEDAW Sessions so that they can speak to Committee members and share information with the Committee themselves. IWRAW Asia Pacific’s mission in conducting the programme has been to help create a legitimate space for national NGOs to directly engage in international processes, then bring the international standards back home to be implemented at the local and national level.

Why the need for the “From Global to Local” programme?

While working with national and regional partners, IWRAW Asia Pacific recognised the critical need for their participation in the CEDAW review process. IWRAW Asia Pacific also saw that it was imperative that the national organisations participated in the CEDAW review themselves rather than being represented or spoken for by other international organisation.

IWRAW Asia Pacific is a classic example of an NGO which moved from a theoretical set of treaty standards to a methodology for implementation at the national level. In so doing, it integrated a dynamic and symbiotic relationship to a treaty body (CEDAW). It began by identifying a gap in the treaty system, namely, needs to:

• Mobilize women’s groups at the national and regional level to improve accountability of governments in fulfilling treaty obligations
• Improve the flow of information from the international level of legal standards to the local level, (including monitoring and facilitating the implementation of the treaty locally)
• Enable women to use the treaty to advance their interests.

IWRAW Asia Pacific then identified multilevel strategies to (a) improve women’s ability to claim rights, (b) foster mechanisms of enforcement, and (c) facilitate ongoing monitoring to track progress in compliance.

(Anne Bayefsky in Human Rights Treaty System: Universality at the Cross Roads, OHCHR, April 2001, pages 48-49, available at <http://www.bayefsky.com/report/finalreport.pdf>.)

Further, the participation of the national organisations enables the Committee to gain a holistic picture of the issues in the country, and leads to the formulation of relevant and specific concluding comments. In order to facilitate this, IWRAW Asia Pacific, in collaboration with UNIFEM New York, formulated the “From Global to Local” programme in 1997.

Why engage with the CEDAW reporting process?

The strength of the CEDAW Convention rests in the fact that it is a legally binding document and has an international monitoring mechanism. Women’s NGOs advocating for equality between women and men have a powerful tool in CEDAW if they can learn to harness it for domestic application.

NGOs can raise critical issues on the situation of women in their country to the CEDAW Committee to assist the Committee to make recommendations that are useful to their governments. NGOs can then use the recommendations made by the Committee to the State, to lobby their government for policy and law reforms as well as other institutional changes in their country.

The CEDAW review process is therefore a very useful and empowering process which can help women’s groups monitor and claim accountability from their government.

What is IWRAW Asia Pacific’s relationship with the CEDAW Committee?

IWRAW Asia Pacific has been facilitating alternative information from NGOs to the CEDAW Committee since 1997. In 2003, the CEDAW Committee requested that IWRAW Asia Pacific collect and send NGO reports directly to the Committee members prior to the start of the Session, so that the Committee members would have adequate time to review this information. IWRAW Asia Pacific works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (the secretariat for CEDAW) to ensure that all NGO reports received by IWRAW Asia Pacific reaches the OHCHR and the CEDAW Committee.

Objectives of the programme?

The specific objectives of the programme are to:

  • Raise women’s awareness on the significance of the CEDAW Convention;
  • Familiarise women with the mechanisms set-up by the CEDAW Convention for monitoring its implementation;
  • Promote the compilation, analysis and dissemination of alternative information on the status of women in countries reporting to the CEDAW Committee;
  • Build women’s capacities to approach women’s issues according to international human rights standards that should be claimed and fulfilled at the national level;
  • Enable women to monitor their government’s performance during the review of State party reports and to interact with CEDAW Committee members; and
  • Enable women to make plans for implementing the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee and to collaborate with the government to implement the CEDAW Convention in their countries.

Activities: What does the programme entail?

The programme includes the following components:

CEDAW review process

From Global to Local programme

Pre CEDAW session:

- Preparation and submission of the Initial/Periodic Report by State party

- Pre-Sessional Working Group of the CEDAW Committee reviews the State report and prepares a List of Issues and Questions

- List of Issues and Questions is sent to the State party whose response should be submitted within 6 weeks

During CEDAW session:

- Constructive dialogue between State delegation and the CEDAW Committee

- NGOs make oral presentations to the CEDAW Committee during the "Informal Meeting with NGOs" on the first day of the first two weeks of the session

- Preparation of Concluding Observations

Post CEDAW session:

- Release of Concluding Observations

- Follow up procedure: State party submits a report to the Committee, within two years, on the measures taken in response to “priority concerns”.

[All official documents to the review process can be found at the OHCHR website on CEDAW

Prior to the CEDAW session:

1.IWRAW Asia Pacific alerts national level groups to the reporting schedule,

2. Provides technical support in the writing of NGO reports by these groups, and

3. Facilitates the timely distribution of these reports to the CEDAW Committee members before the CEDAW session.

[NGO alternative reports can be accessed at here ]

At the CEDAW session:

1. A training programme is conducted for national level NGOs just before the CEDAW session with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of NGO engagement at the CEDAW session. The training combines both the theoretical aspects of CEDAW, such as the principles of the Convention and the treaty body reporting process, as well as practical aspects, such as lobbying strategies and tips.

2. We organise daily debriefings throughout the session as a space for NGOs to assess the proceedings and plan follow up steps.

3. Support NGOs in making their oral presentations to the CEDAW Committee.

4. Mentor participants in observing and monitoring the formal review of their government by the CEDAW Committee, and lobbying the Committee to raise awareness on critical issues in their country.

5. The programme concludes with a one day meeting to strategise on follow up activities to promote the implementation of the Concluding Observations nationally.

Post CEDAW session:

1. Upon return to their home countries, NGO participants carry out their follow up activities, such as disseminating the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Observations, sharing their experiences at the CEDAW session with local groups, and encouraging their governments to implement the Convention and the Concluding Observations, as well as monitoring the State’s implementation.

2. IWRAW Asia Pacific will continue to provide technical assistance (such as trainings) and information updates, as well as organise regional consultations on the implementation of the Concluding Observations.

3. IWRAW Asia Pacific will encourage NGOs to submit information on the measures taken by the State with regards to “priority concerns” in the Concluding Observations.