CEDAW and Treaty Compliance: Promoting Access to Modern Contraception




Modern contraception is widely recognized as a crucial component of family planning services and is recognized as a reproductive right under international human rights law. However, unmet need for contraception remains high, as many women in the developing world lack access to family planning services. This Note examines the role of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its powers as a treaty monitoring body in increasing access to modern contraception. Drawing on empirical research, the example of CEDAW’s influence on abortion rights, and the domestic politics theory of treaty compliance, this Note argues that, under certain conditions, CEDAW can effectively pressure member states to reduce unmet need for contraception by mobilizing domestic actors to influence national policies, laws, and investments aimed at increasing access to contraception. This Note presents specific CEDAW enforcement mechanisms that are particularly effective and argues that CEDAW should focus its attention on two countries in particular—Sierra Leone and Haiti.

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