16/01/2001
Press Release
WOM/1245



Committee on Elimination of

Discrimination against Women

487th Meeting (AM)


SPECIAL ADVISER ON GENDER TELLS WOMEN’S ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE

CERTAIN GOALS REACHED, BUT EFFORTS MUST STILL BE INTENSIFIED


Despite a certain tendency to relax, because important target dates had been reached, it was still necessary to intensify efforts on all fronts, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was told this morning.


Welcoming the members of the Committee, in connection with the opening of that body’s twenty-fourth session, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela King, said that the year 2000 had been difficult, yet exciting.  The positive outcome of the special session of the General Assembly that reviewed implementation of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women -- Beijing+5 -- had resulted from the efforts of many, including the Women’s Anti-Discrimination Committee.  During that event, governments had reaffirmed their commitment to the Beijing Platform for Action and agreed on further actions to ensure full implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.


In connection with the recent entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention, in the coming months the Committee would be faced with petitions from individuals and groups alleging violations of the Convention, she added.  Well prepared for its new responsibilities, the Committee had before it draft rules of procedure for the Optional Protocol, which had been agreed upon in Berlin last year.  The Secretariat was taking measures in support of the Committee’s work, and her Office and the Division for the Advancement of Women were committed to ensuring that the Convention and the Optional Protocol achieved universal ratification and that they were as widely known as possible.


Also this morning, the Committee approved the report of its pre-session working group, which was introduced by the Committee’s Vice-Chairperson, Rosario Manalo of the Philippines.


The Committee will continue its work at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, 17 January, when it is expected to begin its consideration of Burundi’s initial report.


Statements


ANGELA KING, Assistant Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, said that 2000 had been a difficult year, but an exciting one.  Her Office and the Division for the Advancement of Women had been intensely involved in the preparations for the special session of the General Assembly that reviewed implementation of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women -- Beijing+5 -- as well as the session itself, during which governments had


reaffirmed their commitment to the goals and objectives of the Platform for Action and agreed on further actions to ensure its full implementation.  The positive outcome of the special session resulted from the efforts of many, including the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. 


Turning to the highlights of the period since the end of the Committee’s twenty-third session, she noted the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention.  To date, 15 States were party to the Protocol, and 65 were signatories.  She was confident that there would be many more ratifications and accessions to the Optional Protocol in the coming months, as the procedures it established became more widely known, and the Committee would be faced with a large number of petitions from individuals and groups alleging violations of the Convention.  The Committee was well prepared for its new responsibilities resulting from the Protocol, particularly as a result of the expert meeting, which took place in Berlin in November 2000.  Proposed draft rules of procedure for the Optional Protocol, which were before the current session of the Committee, had been discussed and agreed upon there. 


The Secretariat had been putting measures in place to ensure full support for the Committee with regard to communications and inquiries, she continued.  The General Assembly, in its resolution 55/70, had requested the Secretary-General to provide resources, including staff and facilities, necessary for the effective functioning of the Committee, and she hoped that Member States would support those efforts.  Her Office and the Division for the Advancement of Women were committed to ensuring that the Convention and the Optional Protocol achieved universal ratification and that they were as widely known as possible.  All the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes were also concerned about the implementation of the Convention. 


She went on to say that on 7 September, Saudi Arabia had become the 166th State party to the Convention.  Twenty-six States had yet to ratify or accede.  Efforts to encourage ratification, reporting and acceptance of the amendment to article 20.1 of the Convention, on the Committee’s meeting time, had included bilateral meetings between Ms. King, the Director of the Division and representatives of States.  Future activities in that regard would include a seminar in Auckland, in February 2001, for States from the Pacific region.


During this session, the Committee would be considering the reports of eight States parties to the Convention, she said.  In addition to adopting the rules of procedure, which had been agreed to in Berlin, it would also formally adopt the revised draft rules of procedure relating to the balance of the Committee’s work.  Work would also begin on a general recommendation on article 4 of the Convention, concerning temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women.


Despite a certain tendency to relax, because important target dates had been reached, it was still necessary to intensify efforts on all fronts, she continued.  In that connection, she reminded the Committee that the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance would begin in South Africa in August 2001.  During previous sessions, the Committee had drawn attention to the links between discrimination on the basis of sex and race and the particular disadvantages women affected by race discrimination could face.


 Several human rights treaty bodies had made contributions to the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the Conference.  The second session of the Preparatory Committee would take place in May-June 2001, and the Women’s Anti-Discrimination Committee would make a contribution for that session.


Introducing an oral report on the activities of the pre-session working group, ROSARIO MANALO, of the Philippines, said that at its ninth session the Committee had decided to convene a pre-session working group in order to investigate the periodic reports of State parties.  There were four members of the Committee who participated in the working group, with each one representing a different region.  The working group had a list of issues and questions with respect to four States:  Egypt, Finland, Jamaica, and Mongolia.  In order to facilitate discussion of the reports, the working group received country-specific information from representatives of the various United Nations agencies, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


During its pre-session review of the periodic reports, the working group noted the social, political and economic changes that had taken place in the countries under review, she said.  It also noted the technical cooperation currently under way in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.  In some of the reports, the working group found that statistical data was lacking.  It also noted that some of the recommendations that had been made during that last reporting period had not been heeded.


After the oral summary by Ms. Manalo, the report of the pre-session working group was adopted by the Committee.


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