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What’s at stake in the treaty reporting process? Cuba and the United Nations’ convention on women’s rights

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What impact do U.N. human rights treaties have on the countries that ratify them? Most of the scholarly literature on this topic focuses on ratification, with little attention to the ways that the process of reporting can shape compliance. Ratification commits countries to a regular process of documenting and defending the extent to which they comply with a particular treaty. Many countries participate faithfully in the reporting process, devoting significant resources to it and subjecting themselves to vigorous review by the committees that oversee compliance. What is at stake in the reporting process? What can we learn from taking seriously the content of the exchanges between government officials and committee experts? This article examines Cuba’s engagement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) across eight reporting cycles, from 1982 to 2016. Cuba has adopted many changes, but has strenuously resisted the CEDAW Committee’s assessment of its progress on critical aspects of violence against women policy.
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Keywords: CEDAW; Cuba; United Nations; human rights; international treaties; violence against women

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 3, 2018

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

    The Journal features a mix of full-length articles, each accompanied by one or more replies, policy papers commissioned by organizations and institutions and book review symposia, typically consisting of three reviews and a reply by the author(s). With an international advisory editorial board consisting of experienced, highly-cited academics, Global Discourse publishes themed issues on topics as they emerge. Authors are encouraged to explore the international dimensions and implications of their work.

    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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