10 Mar 2015

Tonga cabinet agrees to ratify CEDAW

7:21 am on 10 March 2015

Tonga has finally agreed to ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women or CEDAW.

Tonga Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva.

Tonga Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva. Photo: RNZ

Tonga has been investigating ratification for years and was one of only seven member nations which hadn't signed CEDAW, including Iran, Sudan, and the US.

Koro Vaka'uta reports

Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva says it is an historic day for Tonga.

Mr Pohiva says the decision to ratify was arrived at only after thorough discussions and consultations with the community and church leaders as some of the provisions of CEDAW are clearly in conflict with Tonga's Constitution and laws.

He says the decision to ratify was made on the very clear understanding that the Government's ratification will be with reservations in respect of those provisions that are incompatible with local laws.

In effect, this means that Tonga is prepared to apply the provisions of the Convention nationally, on the condition that it does not conflict with the provisions of the Constitution and laws of Tonga regarding succession to the throne and nobility, abortion and same sex marriage.

Mr Pohiva says the duration of the reservations will be unlimited.