On the occasion of International Women's Day, a Symposium including a book launch of the latest publication of the Academy, "Women's Human Rights and the Elimination of Discrimination”,  took place in the Auditorium of the Academy building of the Peace Palace on Wednesday 8 March 2017.

The symposium was opened by a word of welcome by professor Jean-Marc Thouvenin, Secretary-General of The Hague Academy of International Law. After the welcome address Ms. Saskia Bruines, the Deputy-Mayor for Knowledge Economy, International Affairs, Youth and Education of the Municipality of The Hague held a speech about gender equality and women in leadership positions. Unfortunately, the glass ceiling for women in career related matters has not yet been shattered.

Keynote Speeches

Ms. Renée Römkens, Professor at the University of Amsterdam spoke about the importance of the Istanbul Convention and its implications for the Netherlands. She gave a short overview of the history of human rights, women's rights and violence against women. According to Professor Römkens, the Istanbul Convention has added value because of its dual nature - it serves both as a human rights convention and a criminal law convention. The Convention reflects a holistic, integrated approach; it addresses the protection of women against violence by combining a legal framework and practical measures.

H.E. Sanji Monageng, Judge at the International Criminal Court gave a speech about the Southern African experience concerning Women’s rights and the progress in this field.

After these keynote speeches, the book: “Women's Human Rights and the Elimination of Discrimination” was presented by the editors, Professor Maarit Jänterä-Jareborg (University of Uppsala, Sweden) and Professor Hélène Tigroudja (University of Aix-Marseille, France). The book was published in January 2017.

In her speech Professor Maarit Jänterä-Jareborg explained how the 17 contributors from 14 different countries look at women's rights from an international, a regional and a domestic perspective. All contributions in this book build upon previous research and are concerned with updates and bring forth new thematic issues concerned with women's rights. The CEDAW Convention (1979) serves as a framework for all 17 contributions. According to Professor Jäntera-Jareborg, the book is a highly topical, provocative but balanced book. The articles are not only concerned with public international law, but also with private international law, such as cross-border protection against domestic violence. In other words, the "public-private" divide is questioned. Professor Jäntera-Jareborg asks herself the question where women's rights anno 2017 are going - are we going forwards or backwards? The world is currently challenged with globalization, an economic crisis, migration and refugees crises, an impact of digitalization and an increased nurturing of identity. The book has several thematic approaches: violence against women, cross-border protection orders, feminist challenges to international law, women as surrogate mothers on a global market, women and Islamic custody law, intercountry adoption and unbalanced sex-ratios.

Professor Hélène Tigroudja discussed several themes which have been addressed in this book. She also sketched an overview of the work which has been carried out by the French speaking authors. In this publication,  the difficulties of women as a group is  emphasized.  However, oversimplification has been avoided. According to Professor Tigroudja, all French and English speaking scholars who have contributed to this book have used the concept of vulnerability. Women are not vulnerable by nature but vulnerability is a construction of history, law, culture and religion, she states. The complexity of discrimination prompts us to think about an interrelation of concepts. One form of discrimination can be linked to a whole series of vulnerable situations. In other words, the book can not only be read as an analysis of discrimination of women but also as a work on discrimination as a mechanism. Not only gender discrimination but also other types of discrimination are discussed in this publication.

The book presentation was followed by a panel discussion which focused on the theme: “Empowering Women”. The panel consisted of: Professor Yves Daudet, the President of the Curatorium of The Hague Academy of International Law, dr. Liesbeth Lijnzaad, Legal Adviser, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Professor Nico Schrijver, Leiden University, dr. Elisabeth Wesseling-van Gent, Advocate General, Court of Cassation of the Netherlands and Ms. Ann Wilkens, the former Ambassador of Sweden. The panel members shared their perspective on women's rights and / or their professional experiences related to the advocacy of women's rights, gender justice, and the fight against gender discrimination. For example, Ms. Ann Wilkens, the former ambassador of Sweden explained how she was confronted with violence against women, the violation of women's rights, gender crimes, gender injustices and how she fought for the rights and dignity of women while she was the Swedish ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Symposium and book launch were followed by a reception.

Below you can find a list of library links to the book itself and all the articles therein.

The book: Jänterä-Jareborg, M. and H. Tigroudja (eds.), Women's Human Rights and the Elimination of Discrimination = Les droits des femmes et l'élimination de la discrimination, Académie de droit international de La Haye, Leiden, Brill, Nijhoff, 2016.

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