The Commission on the Status of Women this morning condemned terrorist attacks in the Middle East which seek to undermine the peace process and which have caused loss of life on the Middle East and injuries among women and their families, by adopting a resolution by a roll call vote of 27 in favour to 2 against (Iran, Libya), with 11 abstentions (see Annex).
In adopting the resolution, the Commission also expressed support for the Declaration of the Summit of the Peacemakers, held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on 13 March, and urged Member States to ensure that all assistance to parties in the region took full account of the role of women as full participants and beneficiaries.
Speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Libya said the resolution did not fall within the Commission's mandate and it would not lead to a permanent, just peace in the Middle East. The representative of Iran said he voted against the text because it failed to address the root causes of problems in the Middle East.
The representative of Lebanon stressed the need to implement other United Nations resolutions dealing with terrorism, including Security Council resolution 425 which dealt with Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon. While his Government condemned terrorist acts, he stressed the need to distinguish them from legitimate acts of defence.
Statements were also made by the United States, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Swaziland, Cuba and Ecuador.
Also this afternoon, the Commission adopted three resolutions without a vote.
By one, it condemned violent acts against civilian women and children in areas of armed conflict and called for the immediate release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflict.
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By another text, the Commission urged States to consider the gender composition of treaty bodies when electing representatives to them and emphasized the need for the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education to incorporate a gender perspective in its activities.
Under the provisions of another resolution, the Commission considered that its effectiveness could be improved through innovative methods of work, including inviting experts to participate in its deliberations. It outlined the criteria for the selection and participation of experts, as well as the involvement of non-governmental organizations.
In another action, the Commission approved a text recommended for adoption by the Economic and Social Council concerning the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women. It deals, in five parts, with: a framework for the Commission's functioning; terms of reference; documentation; the Commission's work programme; and the regional aspect.
The Commission will meet again at 3 p.m. today to take action on all remaining drafts before it and to adopt its report.
Commission Work Programme
The Commission on the Status of Women met this morning to take action on several draft resolutions. (For background on the Beijing Conference follow- up, see Press Release WOM/903 of 8 March.)
A draft resolution on the release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts and imprisoned (E/CN.6/1996/L.1) would have the Commission condemn violence against women and children in areas of armed conflict, recognizing it as a violation of international humanitarian law. The Commission would call for the immediate release of women and children taken hostage in areas of armed conflict,as well as urge parties to conflicts to provide information and unimpeded access to specialized agencies for women and children taken hostage.
By the terms of a draft resolution sponsored by the United States, the Commission would urge members of the international community to include women in the Middle East peace process (document E/CN.6/1996/L.3). The Commission "condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Israel which seek to undermine the peace process and which have caused loss of life and injuries among women and their families, and supports the statement of the Summit of the Peacemakers in Sharm el-Sheikh on 13 March". Member States would be urged to assist the parties in the region and to support the peace process, especially with regard to women.
Under the provisions of another draft resolution, sponsored by Australia, Canada and Norway, the Commission would stress the need to intensify efforts to ensure that the human rights of women and girls are integrated into the mainstream of United Nations activities (document E/CN.6/1996/L.4). States would be urged to consider the gender composition of treaty bodies when electing States to them. The Commission would emphasize the need for the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education to incorporate a gender perspective in its activities. The Division for the Advancement of Women would be encouraged to provide information to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women. Both the Division and the Centre for Human Rights would be encouraged to explore the possibility of providing training on the human rights of women.
Also before the Commission for adoption are conclusions regarding its methods of work (document E/CN.6/1996/L.12). The Commission would consider that its effectiveness could be improved through innovative methods of work, including inviting experts to participate in its deliberations. Such experts should be chosen from the fields of study under the critical areas of concern outlined in the Platform, taking account of equitable geographical distribution and the involvement of non-governmental organizations. Meetings should be allotted to conduct dialogue with organizations within the United
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Nations system and civil society and among governmental delegations. Also, the dialogues should produce conclusions containing policy recommendations.
Another draft recommended for adoption by the Economic and Social Council concerns the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women (document E/CN.6/1996/L.13). It deals, in five parts, with: a framework for the Commission's functioning; terms of reference; documentation; Commission's work programme; and the regional aspect.
The Council would decide that the Commission should have a catalytic role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in policies and programmes. The Council would decide that in view of the traditional importance of non- governmental organizations in the advancement of women, such organizations should be encouraged to participate in the work of the Commission. The Secretary-General would be requested to make arrangements to ensure full utilization of existing channels of communication with non-governmental organizations.
Concerning terms of reference, the Council would decide, among others, that the Commission should identify new issues affecting the situation of women that require urgent consideration, and make recommendations on them. Regarding documentation, the Council would decide that requests for reports of the Secretary-General should be limited to the minimum strictly necessary. A proposed multi-year work programme is contained in the draft, which would enable the Commission to consider each of the critical areas of concern identified in the Platform for Action by the year 2000, beginning in 1997 with consideration of: education and training of women; women and the economy; women in power and decision-making; and women in the environment. The final section of the draft deals with the role of regional follow-up in monitoring the Platform's implementation.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The Commission first took up the draft on the release of women and children hostages.
Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Haiti, Iran, Mali, Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Swaziland, Qatar, Guinea, Panama, Jordan, Zambia, Namibia, Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa, Liberia, Peru, Kazakstan and Venezuela joined in sponsoring the draft.
The representative of Azerbaijan proposed that operative paragraph 1 be revised to read "Condemns violent acts in contravention of international humanitarian law against civilian women and children in areas of armed conflict and calls for an effective response to such acts, including immediate release of such women and children taken hostage in areas of armed conflict".
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The representative of Germany proposed further revisions to the text, one of which would call attention to the need to respect fully the norms of international humanitarian law in armed conflict and to take all measures for the protection of women and children, in particular the immediate release of all women and children taken hostage in areas of armed conflict.
The resolution was then adopted as orally revised.
The representative of the Russian Federation said it was too late for Germany to table an amendment without providing a text.
The Commission then took action on a draft methods of work for dealing with the implementation of the Platform for Action by the Fourth World Conference on Women.
Costa Rica, on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, introduced oral revisions to the draft, which was then adopted as orally revised without a vote.
The Russian Federation said experts to the Commission would help States make decisions, but States would make the final decisions.
The Commission then took up the draft on the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women.
The representative of Philippines introduced revisions to the draft text. In Part I, operative paragraph 2, she replaced the words "advancement and empowerment of women" in line 1 with "follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women".
She also deleted paragraphs 2 bis and 2 ter and replaced them with a new paragraph 2 bis, which reads: "Decides that the Platform for Action needs to be implemented through the work of all the bodies and organs of the United Nations system during the period 1995 to 2000 and notes that the institutions of the United Nations, especially devoted to the advancement of women, including the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women and the United Nations Development Fund for Women, are in the process of reviewing their programmes of work in the light of the Platform for Action and its implementation".
She also added a new operative paragraph 3 ter, which reads: "Requests the Secretary-General to draw the attention of non-governmental organizations accredited to the Fourth World Conference on Women to the provisions of this resolution and to the processes established under resolution 1296".
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The representative of the Russian Federation opposed the language of the draft text and said that the Commission could not dictate to the Economic and Social Council.
SHARON BRENNEN-HAYLOCK (Bahamas), Commission Chairman, said that since the Commission was making recommendations to be acted upon by the Council, the wording in the draft text was in order.
The representative of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that the role of regional organizations in the follow-up to the Platform should have been more explicit.
The representative of Bulgaria supported the position that the role and contributions of regional organizations should have been more explicit.
The Commission then adopted the draft text, as orally amended, without a vote.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the integration of women into the Middle East peace process.
The representative of the United States said his Government had hoped that the Commission would not be used as a platform for debating long-standing political issues which should be dealt with in another forum. The resolution had been introduced and adopted in the past in companion with another text on Palestinian women. Its intent was to highlight the positive events in the Middle East which were not adequately reflected in the companion resolution on Palestinian women.
He went on to read out the following oral amendments to the resolution. The last preambular paragraph should read "taking into account section E of the Beijing Platform for Action concerning women in armed conflict".
He said operative paragraph 6 should read: "Supports the Declaration of the Summit of the Peacemakers, held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on 13 March 1996, which had as its objectives enhancing the peace process, promoting security and combating terrorism, and condemns terrorists attacks in the Middle East which seek to undermine the peace process and which have caused loss of life and injuries among women and their families".
The Russian Federation, Norway, Costa Rica and Israel joined as co- sponsors of the text.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Lebanon said that it was important to implement other United Nations resolutions dealing with terrorism including Security Council resolution 425, which called for an end to the
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Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. His Government condemned terrorism and had laws to deal with it. It was totally ready to cooperate with any just and impartial international peace effort and would like to stress its condemnation of the recent attacks in Israel.
However, he added, there was a biased attitude, which did not take into account the daily attacks in Lebanon that resulted in many casualties among women and children. Further, it did not take into account the embargo by the Israeli navy of Lebanese fishing ports and the imprisonment of hundreds of Lebanese men without trial. While his Government condemned terrorism, he said any condemnation did not include a ban on acts of resistance against the Israeli occupation, as they should not be considered terrorist acts. There should be a differentiation between acts of defence and terrorism.
The representative of Syria said that he had expected the resolution would take into account the suffering of its women under the Israeli occupation. The humiliation of women and children and the sanctioning of a whole people were daily practices under the Israeli occupation. He had also hoped the resolution would condemn the practice of collective sanctions, refer to Security Council resolution 425 and call upon the international community to take the necessary measures to stop the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, its embargo of Lebanese ports and call for the release of detainees in Lebanon. Syria condemned all forms of terrorism, but all the peace negotiations had not led to Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
The representative of Algeria said his Government supported an overall just and lasting settlement in the Middle East which supported the rights of women. In supporting the resolution, Algeria reaffirmed its support of the peace process and was working towards eradicating terrorism, which was a scourge against the international community. The text would have been more balanced if it took into account the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, particularly women, and it was hoped that future texts would do so.
The representative of Libya said that resolution did not fall within the mandate of the Commission and would not lead to a permanent and just peace in the Middle East. All the agreements in the Middle East were ones of surrender imposed by the occupier as a fait accompli. A just peace could only be achieved by the establishment of one state in Palestine where Jews and Palestinians coexisted peacefully. History had taught that the oppressed and the suppressed would use the same weapon. The Israeli policy could not be imposed on a people by using terror and demolishing homes. His Government would vote against the resolution.
The representative of Tunisia said that its participation in the Madrid conference and the following negotiations showed its dedication to the peace process. It had condemned terrorism and often called on the international
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community to fight the scourge. Now there was a greater awareness of terrorism and its affects. However, the text did not deal with all the problems of Palestinian women who suffered from such blockades. He hoped there would be a peaceful settlement of differences between peoples in the region. His Government would vote in favour of the text.
The resolution was adopted by a roll call vote of 27 in favour to 2 against with 11 abstentions (see annex).
Following the vote, the representative of Iran said it had voted against the text since it failed to address the root causes of problems in the Middle East.
The representative of Swaziland said it had abstained in the vote. If the Commission wanted to address the problems of the Palestinian women and women in conflict, then the sponsors of the two texts should work together to put forward one draft.
The representative of Cuba had abstained because the text did not take into account all the views of the parties to the conflict in the Middle East.
The representative of Ecuador said that it had supported the draft because it celebrated progress in the Middle East peace process. His Government condemned all acts of terrorism.
The Commission then took up the draft on mainstreaming the human rights of women and girls in United Nations activities.
The following countries joined in sponsoring the draft: Argentina, Congo, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Finland, Ghana, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Austria, Japan, Bulgaria, Chile, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Cameroon, Slovenia, Cote d'Ivoire, Brazil, Belgium, France, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Benin, China, Thailand, United States, Ethiopia, Nepal, Spain, Gabon, Israel, Italy, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Colombia, Namibia, Senegal, Lesotho, Hungary, Peru, United Republic of Tanzania, United Kingdom, Turkey, Antigua and Barbuda and Morocco.
The representative of Australia announced that Iceland, Panama, Romania, South Africa, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, Angola and Algeria had joined as co-sponsors. She also announced oral revisions to the text.
The resolution on mainstreaming the human rights of women and girls in United Nations activities was adopted as orally revised.
The draft on the traffic in women and girls was then taken up.
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The following joined in sponsoring the draft: Argentina, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Indonesia, Israel, Panama, Angola, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Bangladesh, Mali, Malaysia, Cameroon, Lesotho, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Congo, Togo, Gabon, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Benin, Viet Nam, Ghana, Peru and Senegal.
The representative of the Philippines announced that South Africa had also joined the list of co-sponsors. She introduced oral revisions to the draft.
It was then decided to defer action on the draft pending the availability of a written text of the revisions.
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Vote on Middle East Peace Process
The draft resolution on the Middle East peace process (document A/CN.6/1996/L.3) was adopted by a roll call vote of 27 in favour to 2 against, with 11 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Ecuador, France, Greece, India, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Tunisia, United States.
Against: Iran, Libya.
Abstaining: Angola, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Namibia, Philippines, Sudan, Swaziland.
Absent: Congo, Kenya, Thailand, Togo.
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