Representing the first book-length treatment of the application of feminist theories of international law, The boundaries of international law argues that the absence of women in the development of international law has produced a narrow and inadequate jurisprudence that has legitimated the unequal position of women worldwide rather than confronted it. With a new introduction that reflects on the profound changes in international law since the book’s first publication in 2000, this volume is essential reading for scholars, practitioners and students alike.
binding one, was the campaign for a complaints
mechanism in the form of an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (theWomen’sConvention). 25 The Vienna Declaration on Human Rights of 1993
stated that the CSW and Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW) 26
should examine the possibility of a complaints mechanism
‘discrimination’, unelaborated in
the text of article 26 itself. The comment refers to the definition of
discrimination in both the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination (the Race Convention) 93 and theWomen’sConvention 94 and adapts this to
the context of the ICCPR:
the Committee believes that
growing opinio juris. 82 What other instruments relate to violence against
women? The General Assembly has built upon the 1993 Declaration by
expressing concern for especially vulnerable groups of women, for
example migrant workers. 83
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women (theWomen’sConvention) does not explicitly condemn
violence against women, but in
participate in the work of international organizations’. 151 CEDAW has stressed
the importance of these provisions and called on states parties to theWomen’sConvention to take temporary special measures to ensure
that they are complied with. 152
The UN’s record on the employment of women
and its resistance to improvement violate the standards of equality of
theWomen’sConvention. The patterns of both
The book explores the relationship between violence against women on one hand,
and the rights to health and reproductive health on the other. It argues that
violation of the right to health is a consequence of violence, and that (state)
health policies might be a cause of – or create the conditions for – violence
against women. It significantly contributes to feminist and international human
rights legal scholarship by conceptualising a new ground-breaking idea, violence
against women’s health (VAWH), using the Hippocratic paradigm as the backbone of
the analysis. The two dimensions of violence at the core of the book – the
horizontal, ‘interpersonal’ dimension and the vertical ‘state policies’
dimension – are investigated through around 70 decisions of domestic, regional
and international judicial or quasi-judicial bodies (the anamnesis). The concept
of VAWH, drawn from the anamnesis, enriches the traditional concept of violence
against women with a human rights-based approach to autonomy and a reflection on
the pervasiveness of patterns of discrimination (diagnosis). VAWH as theorised
in the book allows the reconceptualisation of states’ obligations in an
innovative way, by identifying for both dimensions obligations of result, due
diligence obligations, and obligations to progressively take steps (treatment).
The book eventually asks whether it is not international law itself that is the
ultimate cause of VAWH (prognosis).
change. This liberal feminist approach is the foundation of most of the
existing initiatives to promote sexual equality in the international
arena. TheWomen’sConvention, for example, relies on
considerable state intervention to remedy discriminatory treatment. This
is also the approach of the Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth
World Conference for Women in 1995. There are, however, problems for
diritto internazionale 2 (2018) 379.
32 M.F. Fathalla, ‘The impact of reproductive subordination on women’s health
family planning services’, American University Law Review 44 (1994–5) 1179,
33 R. Cook, Women’s Health and Human Rights (Geneva: WHO, 1994), p. 5.
34 A. Hendriks, ‘Promotion and protection of women’s right to sexual and reproductive
health under international law: the economic Covenant and thewomen’sConvention
conference on the interventional protection of reproductive rights: the right to health’,
American University Law Review 44 (1995
48 Collins, The Woman in White , p. 159.
49 Collins, The Woman in White , p. 174.
50 Collins, The Woman in White , p. 197.
51 Collins, The Woman in White , p. 180.
52 Collins, The Woman in White , p. 390.
53 Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I a Woman? (1851), speech delivered at theWomen’sConvention, Akron, Ohio. www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/truth_a_woman.html .
54 C. J. S. Thomson, The History and
rights. Many States have made reservations of a broadly cultural nature to
theWomen’sConvention, as well as the CRC. As observed in the introduction, many issues circling around the debate on so-called cultural relativism
are not expressly conducted in relation to indigenous groups, but there are
clear implications for them in the commentaries and principles. At their
most polarised, rival arguments insist on either social transformation in the
light of the norms of human rights, or on absolute cultural integrity. Neither approach is completely vindicated by