United Nations communications procedures provide the right to petition or the right to complain about violations of rights. Under all procedures, the complaint must be in writing.

The Inquiry Procedure

The draft optional protocol includes an inquiry procedure, as well as a complaints procedure. An inquiry procedure would enable the Committee to conduct inquiries into serious and systematic abuses of women's human rights in countries that become States parties to the Optional Protocol. It is modelled on an existing human rights inquiry procedure, article 20 of the International Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The inquiry procedure would:

  • Allow investigation of substantial abuses of women's human rights by an international body of experts;
  • Be useful where individual communications fail to reflect the systemic nature of widespread violations of women's rights;
  • Allow widespread violations to be investigated where individuals or groups may be unable to make communications (for practical reasons or because of fear of reprisals);
  • Give the Committee an opportunity to make recommendations regarding the structural causes of violations;
  • Allow the Committee to address a broad range of issues in a particular country.