28 Sep 2009

Tonga PM defends non-ratification of CEDAW at UN

1:09 pm on 28 September 2009

Tonga's Prime Minister has told the UN General Assembly of his government's reasons for not ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW.

Feleti Sevele says to ratify CEDAW would cut across the cultural and social heritage that makes up the unique Tongan way of life.

He says Tonga makes no apologies for its stance.

"We did not want to ratify CEDAW as a matter of international convenience. We would rather be judged on our actions of empowerment of women than by a ratification of convenience. And we make no apologies for our stance. We admit that there are issues to be addressed. But rather than ratify CEDAW, we prefer to address those specific areas of concern for women in our own way."

Dr Sevele has told the assembly that Tonga's women are among the most highly cherished and respected in the world.