Nº 10/02




          The Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights wishes to report on the signing of a declaration by the three Rapporteurs on the rights of women.  On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences of the United Nations, Marta Altolaguirre, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Angela Melo, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a joint declaration reaffirming the right of women to be free from violence and discrimination, and condemning the fact that “[v]iolence against women is perpetrated in every country in the world.”  The declaration is the result of the first joint meeting of the rapporteurs, organized by Rights & Democracy, that was held last week in Montreal, Canada.  

          In their declaration, the Rapporteurs highlight that women’s rights are human rights, and that international and regional instruments provide broad guarantees against gender-based violence and discrimination against women.  The Rapporteurs exhort all States to ensure compliance with these international standards. 

          In particular, they underline that violence against women includes acts of violence perpetrated by any person in the home, in the family or in the community, as well as acts perpetrated or tolerated by the State.  As is reflected in the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, “Convention of Belém do Pará,” such violence is a manifestation of discrimination based on gender. 

          The Rapporteurs emphasize that States are obliged to apply due diligence to prevent violence against women, to prosecute and punish those who perpetrate acts of this nature, and to adopt measures to eradicate such violence in their societies.  However, the declaration highlights that the fact that state agents and private persons and entities are not being held to account for their actions creates a climate of impunity that encourages the persistence of these violations of rights.  The Rapporteurs urge states to take immediate “action to bring their laws and practices into conformity with these standards.”  A copy of the declaration is attached. 

          Following their meeting in Montreal, the three Rapporteurs expressed their full satisfaction with the results obtained, and indicated their interest in continuing to meet periodically in order to call the attention of the international community to the principal threats to the free exercise of women’s rights. 


Washington, D.C., March 8, 2002