Press Release


Secretary General Participates in International Seminar "A Response to Violence against Women: The Convention of Belém do Pará"

  November 26, 2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today participated in the inauguration of the International Seminar "A Response to Violence against Women: The Convention of Belém do Pará," at the National Museum of Art in Mexico City, with a call for an "educational and cultural transformation" to combat the scourge.

The Secretary General stressed that the Convention of Belém do Pará, adopted in 1994, which guarantees "the right of women to live in a world free of violence" is the most widely adopted Inter-American instrument, with 32 of the 35 OAS member states having ratified. The document, said the OAS leader, "has put the Americas at the forefront of the defense of the right of women to live in a world free of violence."

Insulza went on to note that "violence against women and girls reflects the perpetuation of asymmetrical power situations or structural inequality based on sex, gender or multiple factors that expose women and girls to forms of discrimination combined with their sex, such as age, race, ethnicity and poverty." He said, for that reason, "the protection of the human rights of women goes beyond the individual or collective concept of the guarantee of specific rights; defending the right to live in a world free of violence is closely related to the strengthening of democratic governance, inclusion, security, social justice, development, and the strengthening of the rule of law and justice."

The head of the hemispheric Organization explained that the OAS has developed several measures to strengthen member states’ tools to combat violence against women and impunity, including creating spaces for the exchange of best practices that allow the region’s judiciaries to identify lessons learned from other states and to pinpoint obstacles in achieving full access to judicial recourses for all women.

As part of the efforts to fully achieve the rights set forth in the Convention of Belém do Pará, Secretary General Insulza also appealed to the media, which, he said, "should be our natural allies in this process of educational and cultural transformation; the media should be at the vanguard, working hand-in-hand with the State, to ensure the elimination of messages that perpetuate stereotyped roles about behavior that entrench discrimination and violence."

In his conclusion, the head of the hemispheric Organization said that "the path toward the transformation of a culture of discrimination to a culture of opportunity, and toward a paradigm shift to ensure the right of women and girls to live in a world free of violence, is a task in which everyone must take part.” Therefore, he insisted, "I again congratulate the National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico, for opening this space for reflection and for leading, as one of the main institutions for the protection, observance, promotion, study and promotion of human rights conferred by Mexican law, the fundamental responsibility to the women of this country, which is to ensure their ability to live free from violence."

The International Seminar, "A Response to Violence against Women: The Convention of Belém do Pará," is organized by the National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico (CNDH), together with UNiTE to end violence against women, and UNiTE Mexico. The event brings together experts in the field to discuss the topics of "Access to Justice for Female Victims of Violence;" "Violence against Women in Mexico;" the "Legal Framework on Violence against Women," and “the CNDH and Violence against Women."

The Seminar included the participation of Carmen Moreno, Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the OAS; Raúl Plascencia Villanueva, President of the National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico; Senator Raúl Cervantes Andrade, Chair of the Mesa Directiva of the Senate of Mexico; Senator Hilda Esthela Flores Escalera, Chair of the Commission for Assistance to Vulnerable Groups of the Senate; Deputy Martha Lucía Micher Camarena, Chair of the Commission for Gender Equality of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico; Juan José Ríos Estavillo, Chair of Mexican Federation of Public Human Rights Organizations, and other experts in the field.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.

Reference: E-460/13