The realization of women’s rights, and thereby the promotion of gender equality, is a global struggle and is based on the principles of human rights and the rule of law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that human rights apply to all people equally, “without distinction of any kind such as race, color, sex, language...or any other status”.
In addition to the gender neutral human rights system, there are international human rights treaties and agreements that provide a legal foundation for ending gender discrimination and gender based rights violations. These treaties and agreements affirm that women and men have equal rights and obligate States to take action against discriminatory practices.
The most important treaty is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women is also central and affirms that violence against women constitutes a violation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of women and impairs or nullifies their enjoyment of those rights and freedoms.
Norway has ratified all international agreements on human rights and equal rights of women and men. The CEDAW convention is today incorporated into the Human Rights Act. The special strength conferred by incorporating the convention through the Human Rights Act lies in the fact that the Human Rights Act has been given precedence over other Norwegian legislation. Thus, in the event of conflict between the conventions incorporated in the Human Rights Act and other Norwegian legislation, the conventions in the Human Rights Act will have precedence over other Norwegian statutes.