UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (UN OHCHR)
52 rue des Pâquis
Key objectives with regard to VAW / gender-based violence
Promoting women’s human rights and achieving gender equality are core commitments of the UN Human Rights Office. We promote women and girls’ equal enjoyment of all human rights, including freedom from violence, sexual and reproductive rights, access to justice, socio-economic equality, and participation in decision-making.
We do this by monitoring and advocating for women’s rights, building capacity of stakeholders, and providing technical advice. We promote gender integration within the UN. We also support UN mechanisms and treaty bodies working to promote gender equality.
Framing gender-based violence against women as a human rights violation implies an important conceptual shift. It means recognizing that women are not exposed to violence by accident, or because of an in-born vulnerability. Instead, violence is the result of structural, deep-rooted discrimination, which the state has an obligation to address. Preventing and addressing gender-based violence against women requires legislative, administrative and institutional measures and reforms, including the eradication of gender stereotypes.
The Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
As violence against women continues to impact the lives of women and girls everywhere, the establishment of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, as the first independent human rights mechanism on the elimination of violence against women, represented an important benchmark within the global women’s rights movement. Not only did it recognize violence against women as a human rights violation, but it also tasked the Special Rapporteur with ensuring that violence against women was integrated into the United Nations human rights framework and its mechanisms.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on violence against women, including its causes and consequences, on 4 March 1994 (resolution 1994/45). Since March 2006, the Special Rapporteur reports to the Human Rights Council, as per Human Rights Council’s decision 1/102. The mandate was most recently renewed in 2022 by resolution 50/7.
2015 Femicide Watch Initiative
In 2015, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, Dubravka Simonovic, called for a “femicide watch” and/or observatories on gender related killings of women. Her subsequent report of 2016 (A/71/398) laid out the modalities for establishing such a mechanism.
The Femicide Watch initiative aims to focus on femicide prevention through the collection of comparable data on femicide rates at national, regional and global levels. Data on femicide cases is analyzed by national multidisciplinary bodies, from a human rights perspective. This is done in order to identify shortcomings within national laws and policies, including their lack of implementation, and to undertake preventive measures. Read the Special Rapporteur's 2015 interview on why all States need to participate in a global 'Femicide Watch'.