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UN Expert Technical Assistance on Violence Against Women
Expert Group Meeting Participants in Ethiopia, May 2009 (Cheryl Thomas, back row at left)

Cheryl Thomas, former Director of the Women’s Human Rights Program, was one of 15 experts invited to participate in two recent United Nations Expert Group Meetings on good practices in legislation on violence against women. The meetings were hosted by the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDAW/DESA) and were convened to analyze different approaches to laws on violence against women, assess lessons learned in the implementation of these laws, and recommend standards for future legislation.


The 2008 Expert Group Meeting in Vienna drew participants from around the world, including Fiji, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  The expert group was convened in response to the Secretary-General’s 2006 in-depth study on all forms of violence against women and General Assembly resolution 61/143.  The group studied different legislative approaches to violence against women, with a special focus on domestic violence and sexual assault, and developed a model framework for legislation based upon best practices and lessons learned.  The expert papers prepared by each participant for the meeting can be accessed here.


In March 2009, the Chairperson (P. Imrana Jalal) and Rapporteur (Cheryl Thomas) of the 2008 United Nations expert group meeting on good practices in legislation to address violence against women came together to discuss the model framework for legislation created as a result of the meeting.  The U.N. created three short videos of their discussion, providing an overview of the model framework and recommendations for legislation applicable to all forms of violence against women, as well as specific recommendations for legislation on domestic violence and on sexual violence.  Click here and scroll down to access the videos.  The Division for the Advancement of Women website also includes an advance copy of the handbook for legislation on violence against women and a Power Point presentation outlining the contents of the handbook and key recommendations of the model framework for legislation.

In May 2009, Cheryl Thomas was also invited to participate in the United Nations Expert Group Meeting on good practices in legal reform to address harmful practices against women.  The meeting was convened by the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women in collaboration with the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, and was a follow up to the Vienna 2008 meeting.  The Ethiopia meeting was designed to provide more specific recommendations on a wide variety of harmful practices against women and girls, including female genital mutilation, honor killings, and child and forced marriage.  The meeting participants developed preliminary recommendations for effective legislation to address harmful practices, and these recommendations will be further refined in the coming months for eventual inclusion in the model framework.  The background and expert papers from the Ethiopia meeting can be accessed here.