November 19, 1998

Antigua and Barbuda has signed a convention in Washington, joining with the hemisphere’s nations to more aggressively combat violence against women.

The Caribbean nation acceded to the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women on Thursday when its Ambassador, Lionel A. Hurst, deposited documents at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) to confirm this.

Accepting the documents, the OAS assistant secretary general, Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas, welcomed the move as a declaration by Antigua and Barbuda signaling it would take an active part in applying a convention he described as very important for the inter-American system.

The OAS official recalled that countries signing the convention had committed, among other things, to educating their people about prejudices and customs involving the gender issue and also to actively encouraging the mass media to help do away with violence against women.

In making his country’s accession to the legal instrument a reality, Ambassador Hurst remarked that "we will work tirelessly to ensure that the historically unequal power relations between women and men, which manifests itself in these acts of violence against this segment of population, will be condemned to the dustbin of our history."

Ambassador Hurst was accompanied at today’s brief signing ceremony by Senator Gwendolyn Tonge, who was in Washington as Antigua and Barbuda’s chief delegate to the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) assembly that ended yesterday. CIM, an agency of the OAS, has taken a prominent stance in supporting this hemispheric convention.

The ambassador indicated that his country would ratify as soon as the government approved the instruments needed to do so.

So far, 27 of the 35 OAS member countries have ratified the Convention that was introduced for signature at the organization’s annual General Assembly in Belém do Pará, Brazil, in 1994.

The OAS assistant secretary general also noted that the convention was a complement to the efforts by CIM to improve the situation of women; as well as the principles set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The OAS would be collaborating to achieve the convention’s stated objectives and to provide women "the conditions necessary for their development as individuals and as productive, participating members of our societies."