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Commission on the Status of Women

The confidential complaint procedure of the Commission on the Status of Women is designed to identify global trends and patterns concerning women’s rights. It was established pursuant to a series of resolutions of the Economic and Social Council, under which the Commission considers both confidential and non-confidential complaints on the status of women. 

The Commission’s Secretariat receives complaints each year from individuals and organizations. It acknowledges their receipt and briefly describes the procedure to complainants. 

The Secretariat then summarizes the complaints and sends them to the Governments concerned for comment. Complainants’ names, however, are only divulged to the Governments concerned (and subsequently to the Commission) with the complainant’s express permission. Complaints are then considered by a Working Group on Communications, composed of five members of the Commission on the Status of Women, representing all geographical regions, which meets during the Commission's annual session (usually in the early part of the year). During its private meetings, it considers all communications and the replies of Governments, with a view to bringing to the Commission’s attention those that “appear to reveal a consistent pattern of reliably attested injustice and discriminatory practices against women”.       

The Working Group then prepares a report for the Commission that “will indicate the categories in which communications are most frequently submitted to the Commission”. Individual complainants are not provided with Governments’ replies or the report of the Working Group. The Commission on the Status of Women considers the Working Group’s report in a closed meeting. It then reports to the Economic and Social Council, making recommendations, if it sees fit, for action by the Council on the “emerging trends and patterns of communications”. It is not authorized to take any other action.