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Department of Law

Dorothy Estrada-Tanck appointed Chair of United Nations Working Group

Law Alumna Dorothy Estrada-Tanck has recently been appointed as Chair within the United Nations Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls (UN WGDAWG).

20 October 2022

2022.10 NEWS BANNER_Dorothy Estrada-Tanck

On 4 October 2022, in her capacity as Chair of the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls, Dorothy Estrada-Tanck carried out an intervention before the UN General Assembly in New York, regarding the Working Group's 2022 report, Girls' and young women's activism.

The UN WGDAWG is an international human rights mechanism that contributes to global accountability and amplifies women's and girls' voices to a worldwide platform to provoke expanded impact. It is composed of five independent experts from different regions of the world, and is part of what is known as the UN Human Rights Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. To this end, women and girls everywhere are still subject to significant disadvantage as the result of discriminatory laws and practices. In 2010 a Human Rights Council resolution created the mandate of the UN WGDAWG to intensify efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls and identify best practices for doing so.

"Upon knowing of my appointment as Chair of the Working Group, I felt very honoured to have the opportunity and the responsibility of elevating the voices and vowing for the rights and freedoms of women and girls around the world and collaborating with them to support their daily efforts at the local level," shares Estrada-Tanck.

The most challenging aspect of her role thus far, she adds, has been "to hear first-hand from the women and girls human rights defenders of the risks and violations they face, in different degrees and scopes, across so many countries and regions, including Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iran, Ethiopia, Yemen, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe." At the same time, she believes the most rewarding and heartfelt experience has been "to learn from the hope, determined commitment and generous dedication they display to uphold women's and girls' human rights in an era of gender backlash, anti-democratic movements and reduction of civic spaces and the rule of law."

Estrada-Tanck considers her recent appointment as Chair gratifying and also challenging, especially reflecting on her research and professional experiences as an international human rights academic and lawyer, and having appreciated the chance of living, studying and practicing in different parts of the world.

Indeed, at the EUI Law Department, Estrada-Tanck defended the thesis Human security and human rights under international law: reinforcing protection in the context of structural vulnerability in 2013. Her research focused on analysing whether human security can provide tools for an expansive and integrated legal interpretation of international human rights, state and non-state obligations in the context of structural vulnerability; and whether a gendered and human rights-based approach can more accurately define the scope of human security and the types of violence and deprivation it considers. Her thesis was then published as a book in 2016.

In her current position, Estrada-Tanck continues to contribute to the field of international law. Through the fulfillment of its faculties and activities, including annual thematic reports to the Human Rights Council, country visits, communications to States and other actors, as well as position papers and amicus curiae briefs, the UN WGDAWG in fact opens the door to shaping international law, particularly international human rights law and standards.

"It is a great challenge and a wonderful and shared responsibility," concludes Estrada-Tanck.

Last update: 20 October 2022

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