His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas,
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation,
President of the Palestinian National Authority
Subject: Palestinian National Authority’s implementation of relevant legal obligations resulting from the Palestinian unilateral ratification of CEDAW
Jointly with Palestinian human rights organisations, AL-HAQ welcomes the promulgation of the Presidential Decree No. (19) of 2009 Concerning the Ratification
of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Compared to Arab countries, AL-HAQ further considers the Presidential Decree as a pioneering Palestinian step that furnishes a mechanism and means towards dealing with international conventions and agreements regulating women’s rights.
Highly appreciating your distinctive position and role as to honour Palestinian women, recognise their rights and admit their primordial status in the national struggle and development process, we hope that Your Excellency carry your initiative a step forward by translating and applying PNA’s ratification of CEDAW on the ground. Accordingly, PNA government bodies will need to adopt and implement all obligations prescribed by CEDAW, including:
To implement the principle of equality of men and women in the domestic legislation in force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and ensure the practical realisation of this principle by repealing and suspending any contradictory regulations.
To take legislative and administrative measures that prohibit any discrimination against women, provide legal protection against discrimination, support as well as empower women to access justice institutions by annulling any restriction or provision that denies women’s right to resort to justice facilities.
To grant Palestinian women equal opportunities identical to those of men in the representation of their government and participation in activities launched by international organisations.
To promote equality between women and men in economic and social life and eliminate discrimination against women in economic and social activities.
To accord to women, in civil matters, a legal capacity identical to that of men and the same opportunities to exercise that capacity. In particular, women shall be given equal rights to conclude contracts and to administer property and shall be treated equally in all stages of procedure in courts and tribunals. Women shall also have the right to free movement.
To specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.
If left to the discretion of civil society, mobility and development in terms of public rights and freedoms, realisation of equality between men and women and implementation of CEDAW provisions will require a considerable amount of time and effort. To put the Presidential Decree to effect, we hope that Your Excellency work towards the establishment of a national commission, which comprises representatives of all respective Palestinian bodies and institutions, to review the Palestinian legal system in force and ensure that all operative regulations are consistent with CEDAW. To this avail, Palestinian executive, judicial and legislative bodies will ensure that they observe and fulfil obligations posed by CEDAW. Thereby, we will practically ensure that provisions of inherited legislation, which discriminate against women, deny the equality between men and women, degrade or prevent women for enjoying a full legal capacity identical to that of men, are effectively annulled.
Should we really want to adopt, respect and implement CEDAW, establishment of the said national commission will be a compulsory task and legal obligation that is expedient for the sound enforcement of the Presidential Decree No. (19) of 2009 Concerning the Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Therefore, we hope that the International Women’s Day of 2010 mark a new beginning for the real application of CEDAW provisions by the PNA.
Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.