18/11/2003
Press Release
GA/SHC/3768



Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Committee

49th Meeting (PM)


THIRD COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON WOMEN MIGRANT WORKERS,


HUMAN RIGHTS AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY, RURAL WOMEN


Draft Introduced on Human Rights, Mass Exoduses


The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today approved draft resolutions on violence against women migrant workers and on the situation of women in rural areas.  The Committee also approved a draft resolution on human rights and cultural diversity.


Also today a draft resolution was introduced on human rights and mass exoduses.


The draft resolution on violence against women migrant workers was approved without a vote, as orally revised.  Noting the large numbers of women from developing countries who continue to migrate to more affluent countries in search of a means of earning a living, the draft urges concerned Governments to strengthen their national efforts to protect and promote the rights and welfare of women migrant workers.  States would also be urged to allocate appropriate resources for educational programmes aimed at preventive action and increasing public awareness of this issue.


Also approved without a vote was the draft resolution on the improvement of the situation of women in rural areas.  Highlighting the critical role of rural women in agricultural development and the eradication of rural poverty, the draft resolution emphasizes the political and socio-economic empowerment of rural women.  The draft calls on States to encourage the full and equal participation of women in decision-making at all levels and to provide microcredit and other financial assistance services to more women in rural areas in order to promote their economic empowerment.


Turning to concerns regarding human rights questions, the Committee approved without a vote the draft resolution on human rights and cultural diversity.  The draft urges all States to promote pluralism and tolerance at the national, regional and international levels and to ensure that their political and legal systems reflect the multicultural diversity within their societies.  It also calls on States, international organizations, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to promote respect, for cultural diversity for the purpose of advancing the objectives of peace, development and universally accepted human rights.


Before approval of the draft, the representative of Chile, explaining her delegation’s position, stressed the importance of protecting the human rights of all inhabitants of the world without regard to distinctions of race, ethnicity or culture.  Chile had a great respect for cultural diversity and believed that a lack of development could not be used as an excuse for not respecting human rights.


Subsequent to approval of the draft as orally amended, the representative of Switzerland, speaking also on behalf of Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein, Norway and New Zealand, said that these delegations had hoped that the draft resolution would be dealt with every second year.  She therefore expressed appreciation that the co-sponsors had agreed to put forward this draft resolution every second year.


The representative of Canada introduced a draft resolution on human rights and mass exodusesthatwould have the General Assembly urge the Secretary-General to prioritize the strengthening of emergency preparedness mechanisms to ensure effective action is taken to identify human rights abuses that contribute to mass exoduses of persons.  States would be urged to adopt effective measures, consistent with international law, to prevent the infiltration of armed elements into refugee camps, as well as incidents of sexual abuse and violence against refugees and internally displaced persons.


The Committee will reconvene Wednesday at 10 a.m. to continue actions on draft resolutions.


Background


A draft resolution on violence against women migrant workers (document A/C.3/58/L.18) would have the General Assembly urge concerned Governments, in particular those of the countries of origin and destination, to strengthen further their national efforts to protect and promote the rights and welfare of women migrant workers, including through sustained cooperation.  Such States were also urged to support and allocate appropriate resources for programmes aimed at strengthening preventive action, in particular information for target groups, education and campaigns to increase public awareness of this issue. 


Under the draft’s terms, governments are also called upon, if they have not done so, to put in place, penal and criminal sanctions to punish perpetrators of violence against women migrant workers, and to provide and encourage non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide victims of violence with the full range of immediate assistance and protection, such as counselling, legal and consular assistance, and temporary shelter that will allow them to be present during the judicial process.


Governments would be invited to identify the causes of undocumented migration and its economic, social and demographic impact, as well as its implications for the formulation and application of social, economic and migration policies, including those relating to women migrant workers.


Also before the Committee is a draft resolution on the improvement of the situation of women in rural areas (document A/C.3/58/L.21/Rev.1), which would have the General Assembly invite States to create an enabling environment for improving the situation of rural women.  That would include, among other things, integrating a gender perspective in macroeconomic policies and developing appropriate social support systems; empowering rural women by supporting their full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels through the provision of training and capacity-building programmes; developing specific assistance programmes and advisory services to promote economic skills of rural women in banking, modern trading and financial procedures; providing microcredit and other financial and business services; and promoting programmes to enable rural women and men to reconcile their work and family responsibilities.  States would also be invited to use the concluding comments and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, when formulating relevant policies and programmes. 


A draft resolution on human rights and cultural diversity (document A/C.3/58/L.46) would have the General Assembly emphasize the promotion of cultural pluralism and tolerance at the national, regional and international levels.  It would urge all States to ensure that their political and legal systems reflect the multicultural diversity within their societies and, where necessary, to improve democratic institutions to make them more fully participatory.  It would also call on States, international organizations and United Nations agencies and invite civil society, including the NGOs, to recognize and promote respect for cultural diversity for the purpose of advancing the objectives of peace, development and universally accepted human rights.


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