Press Release

Commission on Status of Women

Forty-seventh Session (Resumed)

14th Meeting (PM)



The Commission on the Status of Women did not adopt its draft agreed conclusions on women’s human rights and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, as it concluded its forty-seventh session this afternoon.

Several delegations expressed disappointment at the failure to adopt the draft agreed conclusions after lengthy negotiations.  Violence against women was clearly a critical human rights concern and delegations had been very close to agreeing.  Consensus over the draft could have been reached had all delegates demonstrated fairness and respect for all, they stressed.

Other speakers said they were deeply concerned that the Commission had reached no consensus on the draft, while various United Nations meetings and conferences, including the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995) and the special session of the General Assembly in June 2000, had agreed on the subject.

Greece’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union had resisted some of the text’s elements that were not directly relevant to the subject and would blur focus on the main points.  The international community was bound by formal and inescapable obligations to take all necessary steps to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

New Zealand’s representative, speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Switzerland and Norway, said countries he represented could have accepted the draft language as it was, and were disappointed that others could not.  Intensified efforts at all levels were needed to combat violence against women, and he was concerned over attempts to retreat from existing agreements.

Also during the meeting, the Commission adopted its report on the current session (document E/CN.6/2003/L.6).

In addition, it took note of the following reports of the Secretary-General: joint work plan of the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (documents E/CN.6/2003/5-E/CN.4/2003/73); improvement of the status of women in the United Nations system (document E/CN.6/2003/8); and thematic issues before the Commission on the Status of Women (documents E/CN.6/2003/7 and Corr.1).

The Commission also took note of reports of the Secretary-General on participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communication technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women (document E/CN.6/2003/6); follow-up to Economic and Social Council resolutions and decision (document E/CN.6/2003/10); and a note of the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on the elimination of violence against women (documents E/CN.6/200311-E/CN.4/2003/121).

The Commission then elected Kyung-wha Kang (Republic of Korea) Chairperson of its forty-eighth session, and the following vice-chairpersons:  Lala Ibrahimova (Azerbaijan), to be replaced at the forty-ninth session by Marine Davtyan (Armenia); Beatrice Maille (Canada), Carmen Arias (Peru); and Tebatso Baleseng (Botswana).  It also appointed Nicole Elisha (Benin) to the working group on communications.

Statements were also made this afternoon by the representatives of Iran, Peru (on behalf of the Rio Group), Pakistan, China, Sudan, United States, South Africa, Benin (also on behalf of Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Cameroon), Angola (on behalf of the South African Development Community), Czech Republic and Tunisia.


Discussions during the current session focused on its two main themes -- women, information and communications technologies and violence against women. Delegates stressed that women be given more presence, voice and visibility in the media, and deplored the degrading images it often portrayed.  They also emphasized the urgent need to strengthen legislation on domestic violence, trafficking in women and sexual exploitation, as well as to educate government officials and set up government bodies to protect and promote women's rights.

Speakers during the session included Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; Angela King, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women; Carolyn Hannan, Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women; Joanne Sandler, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); and Ayse Feride Acar, Chairperson of the Committee against All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Texts adopted by the Commission included its agreed conclusions on women's access to the media and information and communication technologies, as well as resolutions on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan and Palestine, women and girls suffering from the HIV/AIDS virus, and the mainstreaming of a gender perspective into policies and programmes of United Nations bodies.

Background on Commission

The Commission was established as a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council in 1946 to prepare recommendations and reports to the Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educationalfields.  The Commission also makes recommendations to the Council on urgent problems requiring immediate action in the field of women’s rights.

With the objective of promoting the implementation of equal rights for men and women, the Commission’s mandate was expanded in 1987.  Following the 1995 Beijing Conference, the Commission began integrating a follow-up process to the Conference into its work programme, playing a catalytic role and regularly reviewing critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action.


The Commission began with 15 members and now consists of 45 elected by the Council for four-year terms.  Members are appointed by governments and are elected on the following basis:  13 from African States, 11 from Asian States, four from Eastern European States, nine from Latin American and Caribbean States, and eight from Western European and Other States.  The Commission meets annually for a period of 10 working days.

The 2003 membership of the Commission is as follows:  Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania and United States.

The Bureau of the Commission for the current session was Othman Jerandi (Tunisia), Chairperson; Lala Ibrahimova (Azerbaijan), Vice Chairperson-cum-Rapporteur; Birgit Stevens (Belgium), Vice Chairperson; Fernando Estellita Lins de Salvo Coimbra (Brazil), Vice Chairperson; and Kyung-wha Khang (Republic of Korea), Vice Chairperson.

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