CEDAW: Scotland and Wales to implement UN Convention on women’s rights if SNP and Welsh Labour win the election

Nicola Sturgeon SNP L,eader Pic Credit BBC

Ground breaking moves to end all discrimination against women could become law in Scotland and Wales by next year if as predicted, the Scottish National Party and the Welsh Labour Party win Thursday’s devolved Parliamentary elections.

Manifestos for both parties commit them to introducing the CEDAR convention into Scottish and Welsh law and the Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, has also given his support to write the convention into Scottish law.

The decision will have far reaching effects on the equality and rights of women and put huge pressure on Boris Johnson, the Tory leader, and Liz Truss, who is also equalities minister, to have to follow them or face a postcode lottery on women’s rights across the UK. It will also be an enormous boost to the planned People’s Tribunal on CEDAW to be held later in London.

The issue has not made the headlines because it has been overshadowed by the row over Scottish independence and the funding of Boris Johnson’s flat which have dominated the news. But it has implications for equal pay, violence against women, job discrimination and could resurrect unfair treatment over the raising of the pension age again.

Far reaching proposals

The Scottish proposals are the most far reaching. Not only do they want to end all discrimination against women but they also want to implement three other UN Conventions which have not been put into law by the British government.

These cover: The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Scotland has already passed laws to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law

. This has infuriated Boris Johnson and he is going to the Supreme Court to stop Scotland implementing it -saying it is beyond Holyrood’s powers.

But he can’t do anything about the CEDAR convention because Margaret Thatcher signed and ratified the convention in 1986. Unless he decides the UK will leave the convention which would create a storm.

Fraser Meechan from the Scottish Government’s Equality and Human Rights division, said in a letter to Ann Fenner, communications leader to CEDAW tribunal ; “The intention, dependent on the election outcome, is to introduce the proposed Bill in the next Parliamentary session. A multi-treaty human rights Bill of this nature is innovative and ambitious. Therefore, careful thought and extensive engagement will be required, both during its development and throughout implementation, to ensure it is done right.”

A task force is already working on the details of the legislation.

Wales for CEDAW

The Welsh manifesto commitment means the Wales will follow on CEDAR.

The move has caused the Government Equalities Office in London to start meetings with women’s groups on what changes they would like to see in England – as they are now aware of the proposals in both Scotland and Wales. This is the first time the Government Equalities Office has had regular meetings on CEDAW beyond the UK commitment to review progress on CEDAW every four years.

So what started as a move to open a debate on women’s rights through the CEDAW People’s Tribunal has now turned into a serious and urgent issue for Whitehall and ministers. The decision by Nicola Sturgeon to do this is a gamechanger that will have repercussions across the whole of the UK.

14 thoughts on “CEDAW: Scotland and Wales to implement UN Convention on women’s rights if SNP and Welsh Labour win the election

  1. I will keep everything crossed that the SNP and Welsh Labour are successful in Thursdays elections. It may actually make Boris and his Cohorts realise that they cannot keep ignoring CEDAW. It’s a good job that at least parts of the UK are more forward thinking than the self serving oinks at Westminster.
    Good on you David for keeping us up to date, many thanks.


    • At last we might get some justice on our lives for a pension that was taken away underhanded.
      We are to be listened too. For all the injustice we as woman had to put up with.


  2. What difference will this make for women? We already have protection from discrimination with Sex Discrimination laws and Equality laws so what exactly will CEDAW do for us?


    • The legal experts say it will change the way cases are heard by looking at the whole picture. The technical phrase is sectionality – cases tend to be brought under separate headings. It will make a huge difference particularly over equal pay ( it can no longer be phased in) which is why employers won’t like it. It will create new case law. I have done some more interviews on this.


  3. My Goodness, CEDAW is certainly backing the politicians into corners and how they will have to deal with the consequences of SNP and welsh Labour possible successes on Thursday. The Backto60 story continues ……. and yes, Thank you, David, for keeping us informed.


  4. Well this is good news, well done David as ever for keeping us informed. Where will this take us getting our pensions back, can we fight on. Its a pity nicola sturgeon isn’t our prime minister we might not be in this situation grovelling to mps, marches, and court cases. We could have been enjoying our retirement. Up the Welsh and Scotland they realise what a mess Cedaw and back to 60 have had to put up with equal rights for women. Let’s hope Thursday goes there way.


  5. Great to hear this! – do hope the UK Govt case AGAINST UN child protection coming into Scots Law is roundly defeated! It is an awful situation to have your government trying to stop the implementation of these essential human rights treaties. And although I know you don’t want to be party-political, the latest poll suggests SNP maybe just short of a majority so we do hope that women in Scotland in particular will think about who to vote for in constituency AND party list in Scotland, because ask yourselves is it likely that Mr Ross will stand up to Mr Johnson & get his local Tory party to support Scots Law changed first?


    • I agree Mrs Karen Bowman. Boris changes his tone to suit the danger to his own position, he does this all the time. I sometimes wonder whether Boris is even that bothered whether the UK loses Scotland, as long as it doesn’t happen on ‘his watch’ and be forever known as the PM who didn’t manage to keep the Union together. I hope the SNP are successful (and Welsh Labour) tomorrow. No Mr Ross won’t stand up to Boris is my opinion, very few seem to give that a try.


  6. As far as I understand it, having listened to Nazir Afzal who is the legal consultant to CedawPT, neither the Welsh or Scottish Parliaments are able to incorporate Cedaw into law without the permission of the UK Government as International Treaties are a reserved matter.

    Do you think either will be given permission?


    • I am not so sure with Scotland. Johnson is threatening to take the Scottish government to the Supreme Court over implementing the UN Convention on the right of the child but not the others. CEDAW is a different matter because Margaret Thatcher in 1986 ratified the convention but didn’t put it into UK law. So the UK has ratified an international treaty and Scotland has a different legal system to England and Wales so I don’t think she requires Johnson’s permission.


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