33. Battle of the Sexes: Why the United States Has Not Yet Ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Author: Julia Schast, Senior

Thirty-three years ago, President Jimmy Carter signed, on behalf of the United States, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Drafted in the late 1970s to “address long-standing and pervasive inequities against women worldwide,” CEDAW is one of several human rights treaties created by the United Nations after World War II and specifically “sets out a comprehensive definition of discrimination, as well as a framework for improving women’s lives and measuring nations’ progress toward” the treaty’s stated goals (Wakefield 2010, 22). On the surface, the United States champions human rights throughout the world, but in practice the United States remains one of only nine states worldwide to have not ratified CEDAW.  The United States thus joins such states as Iran, Somalia, and Sudan in its reluctance to ratify the treaty, leaving it as “the only established industrialized democracy in the world that has not yet ratified” CEDAW (Office of High Commissioner 2012; Koh 2002, 265). 

This paper analyzes the fundamental question of the why the United States Senate has not, to date, provided its advice and consent to ratification for CEDAW. To provide an answer, this paper proceeds first with a brief discussion of the treaty ratification process in the United States and the stated goals of CEDAW. The paper then moves to an in-depth analysis of the key players and arguments made on both sides of the ratification debate. In particular, this analysis seeks to discover the specific reasons and conditions that have prevented the Senate from ratifying CEDAW thus far and considers what these factors, either by opposition or facilitation, say about the ratification process in the United States.

Studying the Senate’s actions with regard to CEDAW is particularly relevant to this discussion because human rights issues, especially women’s rights, are prevalent in politics and the media today. Furthermore, the importance of CEDAW, both from a domestic and international standpoint, stems from its very nature as a bill of rights for women worldwide that sets up standards for the nondiscriminatory treatment of women and provides “a framework from which any country can build programs that can save women’s lives and bring women into the economic mainstream of development” (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 23). The protections guaranteed by this treaty have become increasingly important to different groups within the United States, both inside and outside of the national government, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan where the Taliban continues to perpetrate terrible gender-specific acts against women (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 23). Since 2009, President Obama and his administration have consistently supported ratification of CEDAW as well as the intention to secure United States accession to the treaty.
Treaty Ratification in the United States
Understanding the treaty ratification process within the United States begins with the Constitution, which states that the President “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties” (United States Constitution 1787). Thus, Senate advice and consent does not constitute ratification, but a treaty cannot be ratified without first obtaining Senate advice and consent. The ratification process itself formally begins when the President signs a treaty and submits it to the Senate where it is automatically referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations (CFR) for consideration (Auerswald and Maltzman 2003, 1099). The CFR can choose whether to take any action on the treaty; however, the treaty will remain in the CFR until the Chairman schedules a vote to report it out to the full Senate for advice and consent. Only if a two-thirds majority of senators present and voting approve the treaty can the President formally ratify it on behalf of the United States (Auerswald and Maltzman 2003, 1099). With regard to multilateral treaties, a treaty will only enter into force when the number of state parties specified formally ratify the treaty (Congressional Research Service 2001, 12).

It is not uncommon, however, for the Senate to refuse to vote on a treaty that does not have enough support to ensure its approval, thus blocking the ratification of the treaty without using the Senate’s formal veto power (Congressional Research Service 2001, 3). These treaties often remain pending within the CFR for long periods of time and CEDAW represents one of these treaties that remain in the CFR today because it has never received a vote on the Senate floor (Congressional Research Service 2001, 3). In an era where multilateral treaties have become the norm rather than the exception, as a result of increasing globalization and international security concerns, it is important to understand how and why such can treaties face decades of obstruction in the Senate.

What is CEDAW?
As mentioned above, CEDAW is a human rights treaty created by the United Nations to end all forms of discrimination against women worldwide. In fact, “CEDAW is the only international human rights treaty that specifically focuses on the rights of women” (Blanchfield 2011, 1). Drafted in the late 1970s, this treaty incorporates features of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and has itself been described as “an international bill of rights for women” (Merry 2006, 74). The thirty articles constituting the treaty cover a broad array of social issues that focus on three important areas greatly affecting women’s lives:

their civil rights and legal status in all areas of activity; human reproduction with an emphasis on maternity, employment, family law, and health education; and the impact of cultural factors including traditions, stereotypes, customs, and norms that perpetuate the discrimination of women in all areas of society (Walter 2001, 17).

Many consider the treaty an innovation in women’s rights because CEDAW:

has been credited with evolving the concept of substantive equality, a foil to the conventional model of formal equality. The underlying basis of formal equality is that like should be treated alike – that those who are similarly situated be treated similarly. Formal equality denotes that among equals, laws should be equal and equally administered. Consequently, the argument would continue, that when groups are not similarly situated, they do not qualify for equality even if the differences among them are the product of historic or systemic discrimination. That women can be different from men but still equal to them is one way of looking at the new idea of equality the Convention tries to establish (Jain 2005, 93).

This difference in perspective is significant because CEDAW “does not deny that in most parts of the world today men and women play different roles in society. It reminds us, however, that the ‘choice’ to play such roles may actually be determined by long-held cultural, religious, and other belief systems” (Ramdas 2011, 38). This is especially true in many non-Western states, particularly those that still implement discriminatory practices against women in violation of CEDAW.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the treaty and opened it for signature in 1979 (Penn 2003, 7). By the beginning of September 1981, CEDAW had received the required twenty ratifications to enter into force, at which point the treaty’s advisory committee became operational (Blanchfield 2011, 2; Penn 2003, 7). This regulatory body is designed to monitor state compliance with ratified treaties by requiring countries to write periodic reports detailing their efforts to enforce the treaty’s provisions (Merry 2006, 78). The committee operates with twenty-three experts elected by the state parties to serve in their personal capacity (Parpart et al. 2002, 63). Unfortunately, like many committees monitoring other major United Nations treaties, the CEDAW committee has limited power to compel states to comply with the treaty because such committees “work within the global structure of sovereignty and cannot impose sanctions on noncompliant states” (Merry 2006, 72).

Although the CEDAW monitoring body does not have the ability to coerce state action, many countries recognize that “compliance with human rights instruments is important for participation in the international community and for benefits such as aid, trade relations, and foreign investment” (Merry 2006, 79). For example, governments that try to shirk their treaty responsibilities may “face internal pressure from national NGOs, which may be supported by international donors and therefore active even if the country does not have enough wealth to support them” (Merry 2006, 88-89). Despite the different avenues of encouraging compliance with the treaty, in some nations, like China , it appears that coercive measures, “including economic sanctions and physical violence, continue to be employed by local officials, in violation of women’s human rights, and are condoned by the state through its failure to take action against wrongdoers” (Lockwood 2006, 639). Currently, the United States cannot participate in the CEDAW committee because it has not ratified the treaty.

After President Carter transmitted CEDAW to the Senate in November 1980, the CFR held hearings on the treaty in 1988, 1990, 1994, and 2002, but, to date, “the treaty has not been considered for advice and consent to ratification by the full Senate” (Blanchfield 2011, 1). Currently 187 countries have ratified or acceded to the convention and the United States remains the only country in North America and Europe that is not a party to CEDAW (Blanchfield 2011, 1; Lockwood 2006, 235). A great deal of fanfare erupted in 2010 when the Human Rights Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the treaty, but that committee “lacks substantive jurisdiction on treaty matters” and the CFR failed to take any action itself in 2010 (Wakefield 2010, 22). Even in the past two years, the Senate has made no further progress towards ratifying CEDAW.

Analysis of the United States Non-Ratification of CEDAW
Looking at the path that CEDAW has taken through the Senate since 1980 reveals a number of overlapping factors that, together, have shaped this treaty’s ratification process for better and for worse over the past three decades. This section focuses on the role played by interest groups and key senators, as well as the effect of executive-legislative relations on the ratification process, by analyzing the arguments made both for and against ratification from the treaty’s advocates and opponents.

To begin, treaties receiving bipartisan support often face less obstruction during the ratification process, but CEDAW has bucked this trend. America’s failure over the past three decades to ratify CEDAW has not been for lack of powerful bipartisan support, as reflected by the fact that Presidents Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama have all agreed that the treaty should be ratified (Sommers 2011, 38; Ramdas 2011, 30). During Bush’s presidency, his administration supported ratification of the treaty despite some concerns over the vagueness of the text (Blanchfield 2011, 6-7). Then in 2009, a White House press release announced that President Obama’s administration intended to seek ratification of CEDAW and in 2010 President Obama himself stated “if it was simply up to me, [CEDAW] would have already been ratified. I’m a strong supporter of it” (Wood 2009; Obama 2010). Some of the most powerful political leaders in the country have lent their support to the treaty, but still it remains pending in the Senate CFR.

In addition to the support of Republican and Democratic presidents, CEDAW has also received support over the years from both Democratic and Republican senators  , vocal women’s groups , and “broad-based organizations such as the AARP, AFL-CIO, American Bar Association, and League of Women Voters” (Sommers 2011, 38; CFR 2002, 9). Since the 1980s, NGOs have offered support for CEDAW but their input was minimal until recently when they began writing “shadow reports” that depict their version of the status of women in their countries and which are available to the treaty’s monitoring committee (Merry 2006, 86). Such efforts in the nonprofit community substantially increased during the winter between 2009 and 2010 when:

the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights brought additional voices and resources into the coalition of domestic and international organizations that have long sought ratification [and] formed an umbrella task force whose members marshaled facts, undertook legal impact analyses, developed communications networks and messages, and visited senators, one by one, to seek their commitment to support ratification (Wakefield 2010, 22).

Moreover, in 1999, CEDAW supporters “delivered more than 10,000 individually handwritten letters to Senators urging ratification of the treaty” and by 2000, twelve states, eleven counties, and twenty cities had endorsed CEDAW or adopted its provisions on behalf of their jurisdictions (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 10). A nationwide poll taken in May 2010 found that “89 percent of respondents said that the United States should ratify the treaty” (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 10; Wakefield 2010). Despite the fact that both groups and individuals inside and outside of the United States government have given their support to ratification of CEDAW, their efforts have not yet succeeded in securing Senate ratification of the treaty.

Although CEDAW has received substantial bipartisan support, one of the biggest obstacles to its ratification has been the significant challenges posed by “the American right, led by the late Senator Jesse Helms and conservative organizations” (Ramdas 2011, 29). Like some of these organizations, Senator Helms’s resistance to CEDAW stemmed from his concerns about the treaty’s possible impact on “U.S. sovereignty and U.S. laws, including those related to abortion and family planning” (Blanchfield 2011, 7). During his time as Chairman of the CFR (1995-2001), Helms singlehandedly blocked any action taken on CEDAW by refusing to hold hearings on the treaty and thus stalling the ratification process (Sommers 2011, 38). Helms even instructed the capitol police to “escort women members of Congress out of a hearing, where they had come to ask him for a meeting to discuss CEDAW, admonishing them to ‘act like ladies’” (Rabin 2000, 4). Only after Helms retired from his post as Chairman did the Senate resume consideration of the treaty.

Recent revitalized efforts by the Obama administration to ratify CEDAW have been met with renewed opposition from conservatives who glorify American exceptionalism and “women’s traditional roles as mothers, wives, and caregivers” (Ramdas 2011, 30). Ultimately, conservatives believe that eradicating gender roles threatens American family life not only for women but for everyone (Ramdas 2011, 30). These types of arguments against CEDAW are supported by religious right groups ; however, opposition to CEDAW does not come solely from conservatives.

Over the past few years, resistance to ratification of CEDAW has surfaced from liberals, some of whom “fear that signing CEDAW will be a symbolic gesture that would amount to sweeping the problem under the carpet instead of creating meaningful change for women in the U.S. who experience discrimination” (Ramdas 2011, 30-31). On the other hand, some liberals contend that the treaty should not be ratified because “the equality framework on which the treaty was developed is outdated” (Ramdas 2011, 30-31). Therefore, these liberals believe that CEDAW “fails to adequately address gender equality because its scope remains limited to women” (Ramdas 2011, 30-31). Similarly, the National Coalition for Men has opposed CEDAW on the basis that it promotes gender inequality by creating “a double-standard of healthcare services: a ‘normal’ level for men, and a ‘special attention’ standard for women” (National Coalition for Men 2002). Unless the concerns of opposition groups can be addressed, CEDAW will most likely remain in the CFR indefinitely and the United States will remain a non-party to the convention.

Having discussed some of the biggest sources of support and opposition to the treaty, this section now turns to a more in-depth look at the specific arguments made by both sides with regard to ratification of CEDAW. Starting with the opposition, many opponents believe that ratifying CEDAW, and thus becoming accountable to the treaty’s monitoring committee, will undermine national sovereignty by requiring “the federal government or, worse, the United Nations to interfere in the private conduct of citizens,” and by promoting international law over American law that “runs counter to U.S. values concerning home, family, and security” (Blanchfield 2011, 1& 8; Wakefield 2010; Crouse 2002, 43; Merry 2005, 80; Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 15). Weakened American sovereignty matters to treaty opponents not simply from an ideological standpoint, but also from a practical stance because ratification of CEDAW would immediately subject the United States “to an evaluation of how well we comply with the treaty’s provisions” (Sommers 2011, 46). This evaluation could prove problematic for the United States because CEDAW’s broad, vague definition of discrimination against women could cause unnecessary lawsuits and other legal entanglements domestically and internationally relating to the behavior of private organizations and areas of individual conduct not covered by United States law (Blanchfield 2011, 21).

On the other hand, some treaty opponents contest ratification on the basis that the United States does not need to publicly accede to a convention with obvious flaws, especially when the United States already implements a “highly developed system of civil rights laws protecting women” (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 40). For example, some conservatives acknowledge that the American system “is not perfect because people are not perfect, but it is so far superior to anything that exists at the United Nations in establishing the rule of law” (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 40). This claim appears supported by the fact that “many countries widely believed to have poor women’s rights records ratified the Convention” and continue to follow discriminatory laws today, thus making CEDAW an involuntary façade for atrocities against women in the treaty’s member states (Blanchfield 2001, 9; Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 48). As contended by Jo Ann Davis, a member of the House of Representatives, before the CFR in 2002:

although the treaty specifically states that countries shall take measures to suppress the trafficking and exploitation of women, the CEDAW committee has actually called upon China to decriminalize prostitution, rationalizing that it is often the result of poverty. Similarly, it commended Greece for decriminalizing prostitution and providing a regulatory structure, and urged Germany to legitimize prostitution through labor and social law. . . . Some may argue that if we do not ratify the treaty, then we will not have a place at the table in how CEDAW continues to be implemented. However, Madam Chairman, the committee is made up of representatives from 23 countries, many with very dubious human rights records of their own, giving any even well-intentioned efforts at reform by the United States little chance of success, were there even to be an American representative on that committee (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 12).

Consequently, many activist groups, NGOS, and legal scholars have voiced their concern that the treaty lacks adequate enforcement mechanisms for compliance and, as a result, that CEDAW “has not made any difference in eliminating discrimination against women” (Marry 2006, 72; CFR 2002, 15). China, as one example, ratified CEDAW in 1980 but the government today still practices forced abortions and sterilizations to uphold its one-child population control policy (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 15).

Similarly, signatory states like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and North Korea “have done almost nothing to reform their laws, policies, and practices, even when admonished by the UN’s CEDAW-monitoring committee” (Sommers 2011, 40). This hypocrisy goes virtually unchallenged for such states against whom the CEDAW committee cannot levy sanctions or fines, but treaty opponents in the United States argue that:

by contrast, the United States takes its international treaty obligations seriously [and] if we ratified CEDAW, we would consider ourselves morally committed to abide by its rules [and] many of those rules are antithetical to American values, and any good-faith effort to incorporate them into American law would conflict with our traditions of individual freedom (Sommers 2011, 40).

Issues of sovereignty and compliance aside, conservatives and other treaty opponents continue to challenge United States ratification of CEDAW by insisting that the treaty promotes prostitution and discourages the celebration of Mother’s Day.

One interesting, although less mainstream, argument put forth against ratification of CEDAW is the contention that the United States should not support a treaty that imposes Western cultural ideas and norms of modernity on lesser-developed nations with the full force of international law (Crouse 2002, 41). By ratifying this treaty, the United States would supposedly anchor itself to a treaty that represented “contemporary colonialism at its worst” rather than a “vanguard of human-rights progression” (Crouse 2002, 41). Justification for this belief comes from the off-target nature of CEDAW’s goals for women in developing countries who need better sanitation and healthcare rather than the treaty’s emphasis on promoting “abortion, children’s autonomy from their parents, homosexuality, wage and salary fixing, federally funded day care and leftist ideas about equality and sexual freedom” (Crouse 2002, 43). Collectively, the arguments made against that ratification of CEDAW have successfully stalled the treaty from gaining the support of a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

Turning now to the arguments made in favor of CEDAW, treaty proponents insist that ratification will not jeopardize American sovereignty. First, advocates contend that the actions and decisions of the CEDAW committee will not override domestic laws nor affect the private lives of American citizens because United States laws already fall in line with the goals of the treaty and because neither the convention nor the committee have any “established rules for enforcing its recommendations or addressing treaty non-compliance” (Blanchfield 2011, 9; Koh 2002, 273). For example, “by ratifying the treaty, states do nothing more than commit themselves to undertaking ‘appropriate measures’ towards ending discrimination against women, steps [the United States] has already begun in numerous walks of life” (Koh 2002, 266). Second, ratifying CEDAW will allow the United States to nominate a representative to the monitoring committee, which would protect the United States from accusations of non-compliance as well as assist in the admonishment of other states that violate treaty provisions (Blanchfield 2011, 12; Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 21). Conversely, persisting in its current state of nonratification, the United States simply cannot leverage the power of the committee to call other nations to account for their compliance with the treaty (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 4). This power is particularly important in our post-9/11 world because the United States “cannot be a world leader in guaranteeing progress for women’s human rights, whether in Afghanistan, in the United States, or around the world, unless it is also a party to [CEDAW]” (Koh 2002, 264). Therefore, while acceding to CEDAW will not undermine American sovereignty, refusing to ratify the treaty surely weakens the United States’ international influence.

  One particularly important matter of contention between treaty supporters and opponents is what sort of message United States ratification of CEDAW would send to the rest of the world. American influence internationally, without the threat or use of military force, rests heavily on the perceived reputation of the United States. Specifically, treaty advocates insist that the United States’ failure to ratify CEDAW signals American weakness and hypocrisy when we try to speak up for women’s rights in countries like India and Pakistan without being able to point to our signature on this women’s rights treaty (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 26 & 48). In fact, treaty supporters have testified that the United States’ continuing failure to ratify CEDAW:

has reduced our global standing, damaged our diplomatic relations, and hindered our ability to lead in the international human rights community. Nations that are otherwise our allies, with strong rule-of-law traditions, histories, and political cultures, simply cannot understand why we have failed to take the obvious step of ratifying thing convention. In particular, our European and Latin American allies regularly question and criticize our isolation from this treaty framework both in public diplomatic settings and private diplomatic meetings. Our nonratification has led our allies and adversaries alike to challenge our claim of moral leadership in international human rights, a devastating challenge in this post-September 11 environment (Koh 2002, 269).

In particular, the United States “might be viewed as hypocritical because it expects countries to adhere to international standards that it does not itself follow” (Blanchfield 2011, 12).

Conversely, United States ratification of the treaty “would make an important global statement regarding the seriousness of our commitment on these issues [and] it would have a major impact on ensuring both the appearance and the reality that our national practices fully satisfy or exceed international standards” (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 33). In essence, ratification will increase the credibility of actions taken by the United States to stop discrimination against women globally (Blanchfield 2011, 11-12). In addition to bolstering the reputation of the United States, ratification of CEDAW will allow the United States to directly advance gender quality, which in turn will strengthen and lend more credibility to America’s other foreign policy objectives around the world (Ramdas 2011, 34). Similarly, treaty supporters argue that “U.S. ratification will give CEDAW additional legitimacy and empower women who aim to eliminate discrimination in their own countries” (Blanchfield 2011, 1). CEDAW advocates also focus on the positive impact of ratification within the United States. Feminist activists in particular support ratification based on the belief that CEDAW would provide an opportunity “for American women to secure rights the Constitution has not delivered” (Sommers 2011, 42). Specifically, because the United States Department of Justice has found that nearly three million women every year are physically abused by their husbands or boyfriends, ratification of the treaty “would send a signal to perpetrators and victims alike that the United States is serious about eliminating violence [against women] at home as well as abroad” (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 27).

Although the United States has made progress over the years in terms of gender equality and women’s rights, a number of treaty supporters note that our country can still do more. These individuals therefore derisively accuse conservatives of being willing to “promote cultural change [only] when it involves some of the more sensationalist practices of other cultures (child marriage, dowry burnings, genital cutting, etc.)” (Ramdas 2011, 36). For example, opponents of CEDAW are quick to point out the oppression of women in the Global South, but fail to acknowledge “the ways in which women experience inequality in the U.S., claiming instead that our society has already achieved gender equality” and therefore need not ratify CEDAW (Ramdas 2011, 36). In reality, United States ratification of the treaty “is an important legal stepping stone to buttress existing efforts to access basic rights for women such as the right to receive equal pay in the workplace, to be free from domestic violence, or to obtain access to family planning” (Ramdas 2011, 32). Overall, ratification of the treaty could help the United States advance women’s rights in education, employment, and healthcare not only in America but also across the world (O’Neill 2002, 42).

Finally, treaty supporters insist that, contrary to opponents’ claims, CEDAW does not in fact require the decriminalization of prostitution nor create any international mandate for abortion. Rather, with regard to prostitution, the treaty specifically calls for state parties to “take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution in women” (Koh 2002, 272-273). Similarly, with regard to controversial reproductive issues, CEDAW takes a neutral stance on abortion by “allowing policies in this area to be set by signatory states and seeking to ensure equal access for men and women to health care services and family planning information” (Koh 2002, 272). Even some countries in which abortion was illegal, such as Ireland, Rawnda, and Burkino Faso, have ratified the treaty (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2002, 34). Clearly the conservatives in these countries found the treaty provisions to line up with their beliefs, but debates over the meaning and application of CEDAW persist in the United States today.

As revealed by the analysis above, the ratification process for CEDAW in the United States has been anything but straightforward and its chances of success remain uncertain. Although the treaty has received substantial bipartisan support, the strength of the opposition has historically stalled consideration of the treaty and more recently effectively prevented the Senate from ratifying the treaty despite President Obama’s desire otherwise. The main areas of contention over ratification relate to the preservation of American sovereignty and the reputation of the United States in pursuing foreign policies it claims to support in theory but upon which it hesitates in practice. The United States reluctance to ratify CEDAW not only damages our international credibility and influence with regard to our own foreign policy actions, but it also threatens our security and sovereignty by emboldening other countries who face “little immediate pressure to implement and conform to the requirements of the convention” without the United States supporting the monitoring committee (Parpart et al. 2002, 64).

The other lesson learned from this paper is that American policymakers, interest groups, and the public generally support CEDAW’s goals of advancing women’s rights and eliminating gender discrimination, but disagreement over whether the treaty is an appropriate or effective mechanism for achieving these goals has been strong enough to derail all attempts at ratification so far (Blanchfield 2011, 1 & 9). Specifically, treaty supporters maintain that CEDAW “is an effective mechanism for improving women’s rights [because it] draw[s] attention to women’s issues on both a national and international level, particularly in developing countries (Blanchfield 2011, 10). Opponents, on the other hand, believe the reverse: they “generally recognize that global discrimination against women is a problem that should be eliminated, but they do not view the Convention as an effective way to achieve this goal” because it undermines American sovereignty and is unable to force compliance from other states with notoriously horrible women’s rights records (Blanchfield 2011, 9). Ultimately, no matter what decision the United States makes with regard to the ratification of CEDAW, the choices of the Senate on this treaty will affect American domestic and foreign policy both directly and indirectly for many years to come.


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