The monitoring body for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women decided this morning that it would consider 10 State party reports at its seventeenth session in July 1997, as its experts took action on the recommendations of its working group I, which has been charged with finding ways and means of expediting the Committee's work.
At its July session, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which now meets twice each year, will consider a provisional list of country reports, including the initial and second periodic reports of Antigua and Barbuda, the initial reports of Armenia, Israel and Namibia (or Zimbabwe), the second periodic reports of the Dominican Republic and Italy, the second and third reports of Argentina, as well as the third report of Bangladesh.
The Committee also decided today to hear 10 State party reports at its eighteenth session. The provisional list of reports includes the initial reports of Azerbaijan, Belize, Croatia and Zaire, the second periodic reports of Bulgaria and Equatorial Guinea, the third report of the Republic of Korea, and the combined third and fourth reports of Mexico. The final list will be formulated by the Committee after consultation with the Secretariat.
The Committee this morning focused on the need to address the backlog of country reports and expressed concern about the lack of time to deal with the working groups and the number of pending reports. Some experts noted that the States parties had supported the extension of the Committee's meeting schedule to two sessions each year, primarily with the understanding that the existing backlog of country reports would be addressed.
Expressing concern over the lack of time to formulate concluding comments on State party reports, several experts suggested the possibility of postponing some of the comments until the next session, a practice that had been utilized by other treaty bodies. Others said the preferred procedure would be the completion of all commentary as soon as possible after the
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presentation of the report. Immediate dissemination of the comments was crucial in the country's follow-up to the Committee recommendations.
In its report to the Committee, working group I recommended further guidelines for the concluding comments by the experts on the State party reports. The Committee decided this morning that it would maintain its practice of one main country rapporteur and a back-up rapporteur for each initial report. The main rapporteur would continue to prepare the concluding commentary, in consultation with the back-up and the Committee rapporteur, which would reflect the views specifically expressed by experts during the presentation by the State party. The main rapporteur could also seek additional information on the country to be given to the Committee in closed session.
Regarding the content of the commentary, the Committee decided that there should be an objective indication of the strengths of each report. The Committee would describe major areas of the Convention that had not been implemented by States parties. It would also address overarching social factors, such as tradition and cultural and behavioural patterns. Certain positive aspects and principal areas of concern should be stressed in order of importance and in a balanced fashion, and concrete solutions should be provided.
On relations with non-governmental organizations, the Committee decided that it would cautiously welcome the input of those organizations. Interpretation support was necessary, however, to make the current informal meetings with non-governmental organizations satisfactory. Such meetings should be held early in the session and provide country-specific information to the Committee. Further discussion was necessary in the working group to further define the Committee's relationship with non-governmental organizations. Their role in the process should be acknowledged and their interaction with the Committee should be formalized. The practices of the other treaty bodies might provide guidance, as the Committee was the only one that had not as yet agreed upon such guidelines.
Acting on other recommendations of the working group, the Committee decided to review its practice of nominating members to serve as focal points to other treaty bodies. The Committee should participate in the activities of all other treaty bodies and take into account general comments or recommendations of other treaty bodies.
On the work of specialized agencies, the Committee decided that the input of such bodies should be more structured. It should be country-specific and include information on treaties accepted by the reporting State party, new relevant statistics about the State party, and a description of the agency's country-level programmes in the State party under review.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to take action on the remaining recommendations of its working groups, to adopt its final report and conclude its sixteenth session.
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Women's Anti-Discrimination Committee - 3 - Press Release WOM/949 332nd Meeting (AM) 31 January 1997