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UN and human rights

The history of the main human rights instruments of the United Nations organization (UN) dates back only about half a century ago. UN was established after the World War II to unify the efforts of its member states for peace, mutual understanding and human rights.

UN uses certain legal documents called instruments for the protection of human rights. They are declarations and conventions - international agreements or treaties. When some country signs the convention it means that it takes the engagement to apply the convention's provisions. 

Human rights were put in writing 60 years ago in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and in many other international documents. For example children's rights are written down in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child(1989).

Women's right to nondiscrimination is most comprehensively set forth in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979 and entered into force as an international treaty in 1981. By the tenth anniversary of the Convention in 1989, almost one hundred nations have joined it. Bulgaria signed CEDAW in 1980.

Obviously there was a necessity to think about these serious problems as the Declaration of Human Rights addressed the violation of rights experienced in the public field, but it overlooked the many human rights violations that women experience in the personal sphere, such as the home and the workplace. But it was not until 1993 when at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna was acknowledged that "human rights of women and the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights." Then the UN General Assembly ratified the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is the first human rights document to specifically address violence against women.

In 1994, a decision was passed to include women's rights in the UN Human Rights mechanism and to assign a special rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Commission on the subject of violence against women.

In 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, 189 UN member countries signed another important document named the Beijing Platform for Action, which lists the obstacles for the advancement of women gives recommendations for overcoming them and pays special attention on girls. Why on girls? Because it is a fact that in many countries girls from their earliest age are discriminated regarding education, training and even food in some poor regions of the world.


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