Using United Nations Mechanisms


This module will focus on United Nations instruments and instances that can be leveraged to advanced feminist law reform and women’s equality.

Different UN bodies and representatives are charged with reviewing Canada’s accomplishments and shortcomings in protecting and promoting human rights and women’s rights. During these investigations, they frequently meet with or hear from civil society groups. This can be a great opportunity to flag issues that are affecting women’s equality rights. 

These bodies will also issue reports that can be useful when advocating for feminist law reform, as they constitute and external and objective review. 

What is CEDAW?


Videos on using United Nations mechanisms


Readings on using United Nations mechanisms

Visit to Canada: Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences

Recommendations from the NAWL consultation on Violence Against Women (VAW) law reform in Canada to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its causes and consequences (UN SR VAW)

National Association of Women and the Law

Concluding observations on the combined eighth and ninth periodic reports of Canada

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women


UN Special Rapporteur Report on Canada

Warrior Life

Pam Palmater unpacks the 5 core findings from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences report on violence against Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. It got very little media attention and no action from federal or provincial governments. Make sure you listen to the whole podcast because at the end, she share with you some of her most important recommendations.

Length:20 minutes

Engage & Discuss

What are some of the benefits of using UN instruments to advance feminist law reform? 

Read the CEDAW. How does it differ from the Canadian Charter and other anti-discrimination instruments? What sections do you think are particularly important for the women you work with?

What are the most relevant UN instruments for you or your organization? Has Canada ratified them? How is Canada working on applying them locally? How might you advocate for ratification or better local application? 

Are there any upcoming visits or hearings that are relevant to a feminist law reform issue you are working on? How might you get invited to participate? 

Additional Resources

Canada: Submission to United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women – List of Issues Prior to Reporting in November 2019

Amnesty International

Reply to Issues 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12 & 13: Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the Occasion of the Committee’s Eighth and Ninth Periodic Review of Canada

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA)