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 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.