Exclusive: United Nations slams the UK for failing to properly implement the convention signed by Mrs Thatcher to eliminate all discrimination against women

The UN committee monitoring progress by the UK to implement the UN Convention to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls (CEDAW) ratified by Margaret Thatcher in 1986 has severely criticised the foot dragging by the British government under Boris Johnson to fully implement it.

CEDAW in session; Pic Credit UN News

In a strongly worded report the Geneva based organisation “recommends that the State party incorporate all the provisions of the Convention into its legislation without further delay to ensure that the rights of women are guaranteed systematically and on an equal footing throughout all territories under its jurisdiction, including Northern Ireland.

It also recommends that the State party, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention, take proactive measures to ensure that the Convention is given effect in all of its overseas territories and Crown dependencies”.

The damning criticism comes after 35 years of delay by successive UK governments to properly implement a convention which the country signed up to years ago.

The committee’s findings sharply differentiate between the foot dragging actions of the UK government under Boris Johnson and the progress promised by the Welsh and Scottish governments. It is also pleased that Jersey has decided to implement the convention.

It says; “The Committee takes note that the Welsh Government commissioned research on how to foster equality and human rights in Wales, including through the incorporation of the Convention, and the new Programme for Government for 2021 to 2026 confirms the Government’s commitment to incorporate the Convention into Welsh law.

“The Committee also welcomes that the Scottish Government’s commitment to incorporate the Convention through a new Human rights Bill following the recommendation by the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership. Further, the Committee welcomes that the Convention has been extended to the Crown Dependency of the Bailiwick of Jersey in 2021.”

Official picture of Nicola Sturgeon who is pushing to implement CEDAW in full

The decision will place pressure on Johnson’s government which has been antagonistic to Scotland and Wales implementing UN human rights conventions – witnessed by Johnson successfully going to the Supreme Court to block Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish leader, from legislating to cover all parts of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child.

At the heart of the matter is that successive governments have not gone far enough in equality and human rights legislation to implement the convention.

It says: “the Committee deeply regrets that the State party has not taken necessary measures within its jurisdiction, including in Northern Ireland, to incorporate all the provisions of the Convention into its legislation despite the fact that the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 do not give the full effect of the Convention. The Committee also remains concerned that the Convention has not been extended to all of its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, including the Crown Dependency of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.”

It calls in particular for an “over arching strategy ” to implement women’s rights.

The CEDAW tribunal logo- where people earlier this year pressed for full rights for all women and girls

It says the UK must “Develop, without further delay, a unified and overarching national strategy for the incorporation of all the provisions of the Convention into its national legislation throughout its jurisdiction (including Northern Ireland) as well as its Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies (including the Crown Dependency of the Bailiwick of Guernsey), and take all necessary measures for the implementation thereof.”
It also critical of the UK government’s failure to make a proper post Brexit impact study on women’s rights”

Action called to tackle women’s rights post Brexit

It says the UK must “undertake a thorough impact assessment of its withdrawal from the European Union on the rights of women, including women in Northern Ireland, and adopt effective measures to mitigate the negative effects.”

The report goes on to urge the government to “consider establishing a national oversight mechanism to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the Convention, with the effective participation of its national human rights institutions and women’s organizations”.

It says the recent establishment of an equality hub in the Cabinet Office is not good enough.

It expresses its concern”that the Government Equalities Office nor the Equality Hub specifically target the rights of women protected under the Convention, nor do they address the State party’s implementation of the Committee’s recommendations. Also, the Committee regrets that the State party has yet taken any actions to establish a national oversight mechanism in reviewing and implementing the Convention.”

This is a pretty damning conclusion by the UN about the state of women’s rights in this country. To campaigners like Jocelynne Scutt, president of CEDAWinlaw , it pinpoints exactly what they have been saying is missing in UK law – no overarching rights for women which could transform the situation on equal pay , pensions, job rights, protection from violence and could also have changed decisions taken in our courts. This will be a real test on whether Boris Johnson believes in real equality for women or just sticks to warm words.

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8 thoughts on “Exclusive: United Nations slams the UK for failing to properly implement the convention signed by Mrs Thatcher to eliminate all discrimination against women

  1. Wow this is just what we need!! CEDAW being implemented would have gone a long way into ensuring we got our pensions when we were 60, and it’s just been totally brushed under the carpets of Westminster just how badly treated 1959’s born women have been!!


    • Does Cedaw include males identifying as women still? Nicola Sturgeon is too keen on pursuing trans rights over women’s in my view – she’s said some very dodgy things lately that don’t sit well with me (as have the Welsh Gov politicians). Thank you David for continued support of 50s women though, appreciate


  2. I would like to see the Labour Party put it in their manifesto, I have contacted my MP.I put it on my Facebook whenever I can, for friends and family to see. But it feels like either they can’t be bothered or they don’t understand. I have spoken to Unison about it, they say it is something they would support but nothing seems to happen. I mention it when ever I can, but it feels like pulling teeth. It is unbelievable that this document is over 30 plus years plus and still not made it into domestic law. To also think successive governments work on it every couple of years I find unbelievable. Also this would help all women in this country is truly unbelievable. When we have the next election I will again address it with my MP, if any party wants my vote it needs to be in there manifesto. No CEDAW no vote, perhaps all women should do the same. A big thank you once again for your support bless you.


  3. 1 Saudi Arabia
    The Arab states
    Most of Africa
    China and the Moslems
    Why pick on UK when human and women’s rights are ignored by most of the world


    • It’s not an issue of CEDAW picking on us. We decided in 1986 that we wanted to ratify the convention. When you do that you are obviously expected to implement it in the UK and we haven’t done so properly


  4. Typical P.M. has no respect for women , still not sorted Back to 60’s Womens stolen pensions that he said he would look at with fresh eyes before he was elected 🤬. It seems we have been ignored & suffer hardship’s we paid in where’s the pay out you thief


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