Global norms and standards: Ending violence against women
National legal systems and public policy frameworks have often overlooked the crisis of violence against women. But, when brought into alignment with global norms and standards, laws and policies can play a positive role in changing attitudes and behaviors in the long term.
There are a number of internationally agreed norms and standards that relate to ending violence against women; this page lists some of the most prominent.
- The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women does not explicitly mention violence against women and girls, but General Recommendations 12, 19, and 35 clarify that the Convention includes violence against women and makes detailed recommendations to States.
- The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights recognized violence against women as a human rights violation and called for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on violence against women in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
- The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women was the first international instrument explicitly addressing violence against women, providing a framework for national and international action.
- The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development drew links between violence against women and reproductive health and rights.
- The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action identifies specific actions for governments to take to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Ending violence is one of 12 areas for priority action. In 2020, a major stock-taking UN Women report revealed that more than 80 per cent of countries (of 166 in total) reported that action to implement, and enforce, violence against women laws had been achieved in the previous five years, and 87 per cent of countries reported introducing, or strengthening, services for survivors of violence.
- In 2006 the Secretary-General’s In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women was released, the first comprehensive report on the issue.
- The 2011 Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence became the second legally binding regional instrument on violence against women and girls.
- The UN General Assembly adopts biannual resolutions on the issue of violence against women. The resolutions, first adopted in 2012, include the intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women, trafficking in women and girls, and intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations. These resolutions are renegotiated biannually, and the most recent reports were submitted on these resolutions during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
- The UN Human Rights Council first adopted a resolution on accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women in 2012.
- In 2020, at the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, leaders pledged to ramp up efforts to fully implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including ending all forms of violence and harmful practices against women and girls.
For more details on global norms and standards, see UN Women’s Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls.