Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



This Note contains a detailed review of state responses to the Platform for Action produced at the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women. The Author finds that this consensus was reached on most of the proposals outlined in the Platform for Action. Certain proposals, however, regarding reproductive and Inheritance issues, were subject to a great deal of dispute during the drafting of the Platform for Action, and many countries ultimately registered reservations as to these proposals. While the news reports of the Fourth World Conference on Women focused on the lobbying activities of both Islamic countries and Catholic countries, particularly the Vatican, this Note finds that ultimately most of the damage done to consensus on these controversial proposals was caused by the Islamic countries. This group of countries' objections to the controversial proposals were based in religious and cultural beliefs. The Author analyzes the pattern of reservations to the Platform for Action according to a set of factors designed to help predict the legal result of non-binding international conferences. On the basis of this analysis, this Note predicts that, while the number of objecting states was small relative to the whole, on the basis of the way customary international law is developed, the existence of this one highly interested group of states opposing some proposals will likely stall the further development of these proposals as legal norms for the foreseeable future. For the rest of the proposals in the Platform, which were subject to a great deal of consensus, adoption of these proposals at the Conference should enhance their development into customary international law norms. None of the proposals will develop into law, however, absent state practice at this time, and this Note finds that this required state practice is not at all assured, based upon states' actions so far.