In many countries, International law has played an important role in bringing about changes in the legal position of women. Many international law instruments prohibit sex discrimination. States parties to UN-treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) are under the obligation to adopt measures to improve the socio-economic situation of women. The same is true for different Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Many states are also States parties to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In the Member States of the European Union (EU), the law of the European Communities (EC-law, the so-called first pillar) has become an important vehicle of economic and social change. This is especially true where the position of women is concerned. The principle of equality in relation to labour, social security and the access to and the supply of goods and services has been developed in several directives and in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
During this course we compare different International and European legal instruments in the field of employment. We explore the enforcement mechanisms of these instruments and the underlying conceptions of equality. We focus on equal pay for equal work, equal treatment at work, affirmative action and employment protection in relation to pregnancy. We study the interpretation of relevant EC sex equality law by the Court of Justice of the European Union. More recently the scope of equal treatment legislation of the European Union has been widened with the adoption of provisions prohibiting not only sex discrimination, but also discrimination based on race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. We will pay some attention to these new legal instruments as well.
The aim of the course is to provide insight in the ways social differences between men and women are reflected in relevant (positive) International and European law and in the background and role of Intenational and European Union law in relation to those differences. We will also explore the limits of relevant International and European law and discuss the critique of different authors on the conceptualisation of the law in some legal instruments and in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Basic knowledge of International and European Law is recommended (level kernvak Internationaal en Europees recht).