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Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Message to the Senate Transmitting the Convention.

November 12, 1980

To the Senate of the United States:

With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification (subject to certain qualifications and possibly to appropriate implementing legislation), I transmit herewith a copy of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 1979 and signed on behalf of the United States of America on July 17, 1980. The report of the Department of State with respect to the Convention is also transmitted for the information of the Senate.

Adoption of this Convention by the General Assembly at the conclusion of its 34th Session in December, 1979, was the culmination of a negotiating process that lasted several years. Throughout this process, the United States was an active participant and a vigorous supporter of a comprehensive and effective international instrument to achieve the elimination of discrimination against women. Although certain earlier human rights treaties relate to the rights of women, none of these previous instruments attempted to deal with women's rights in as comprehensive a manner as this Convention. The wide scope of the Convention is particularly noteworthy and commendable in that it calls upon States Parties to take "all appropriate measures" to eliminate discrimination against women in such diverse fields of human endeavor as politics, law, employment, education, health care, commercial transactions, and domestic relations. Moreover, the Convention establishes a Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to review periodically the progress being made by States Parties.

Ratification of the Convention on the Political Rights of Women in 1976 was a recent express affirmation by the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government that human rights in general and women's rights in particular are matters of legitimate concern to the international community and are not subjects with exclusively domestic ramifications. U.S. ratification of the Convention at hand, the newest of the international human rights instruments, would be consistent with this affirmation and would make clear at home and abroad the commitment of the United States to eliminate discrimination against women.

The great majority of the substantive provisions of the Convention are consistent with the letter and spirit of the United States Constitution and existing laws. However, certain provisions of the Convention raise questions of conformity to current United States law. Nevertheless, the Departments of State and Justice and other interested agencies of the Federal Government concur in the judgment that, with the adoption of certain qualifications and, possibly, appropriate implementing legislation, there are no constitutional or other legal obstacles to United States ratification. The report of the Department of State on the Convention and an attached legal memorandum describe the provisions of the Convention and identify those areas of concern that will require further discussion and treatment.

This Convention is a significant new element in the development of the international law of human rights. By giving its advice and consent to ratification of the Convention, the Senate will confirm our country's traditional commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and will enhance our nation's ability to achieve progress throughout the world. I hope that all States will become Parties to the Convention, and that it will be applied universally. I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to this Convention.


The White House,

November 12, 1980.

Jimmy Carter, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Message to the Senate Transmitting the Convention. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250856

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