UN officials urge global backing for Annan’s report on violence against women

USG Ocampo briefs the press

10 October 2006 – Painting a grim picture of the extent of violence against women in all parts of the world, senior United Nations officials today urged everyone to fully support Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s recent in-depth study on the problem, which lays out legislative and other recommendations to combat the scourge.

“Violence against women as the report says is not a characteristic of some countries… it’s really a global problem that has to be addressed. According to the quantitative estimates, which certainly underestimate the amount of violence that occurs, at least one out of three women experienced violence at some stage in their lives,” said Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs José Antonio Ocampo at a joint press conference in New York.

He highlighted some of the main points of Mr. Annan’s 139-page study, which was presented to the General Assembly’s Third Committee yesterday, emphasizing in particular the importance of its legal recommendations and also spoke of the key role of women’s groups.

“There is significant action to be undertaken not only to extend legislation but actually to have very effective mechanisms for action… the report underscored the very important role that women’s movements have, not only for having raised this issue and transforming it into a truly global concern, but also in the very concrete application of the norms at the development and at the application of the norms at the country level.”

Rachel N. Mayanja, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, described yesterday’s debate in the General Assembly as finally drawing back the curtain on the issue of violence against women, a subject that for too long had been “under cover.”

“But now… it is a public issue, it is all our issue and therefore we have an obligation to act from all our vantage points… the study has actually laid out for us a number of options that have to be taken to try and eliminate this scourge. What is hoped is that the launching of this study will actually put us into an action mode,” she told reporters.

Carolyn Hannan, Director of the Division for the Enhancement of Women at the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, echoed these views, while also repeating the call for more commitment from Member States.

“One of the most important findings from the study is the fact that there is a strong framework, policy and legal framework, in place on violence against women. The big problem is that that framework is not being implemented.”

In his report Mr. Annan outlines 10 pages of recommendations and also highlights the role of the Assembly in “ensuring that meaningful follow-up and implementation is undertaken by different stakeholders,” stressing that Member States and the international community must acknowledge the “devastating impact any further delay in taking these limited but critical measures will have on women, their families and their communities.”

The recommendations are divided into six key areas for action at the national level that include a wide range of measures from ensuring States ratify all human rights treaties to increasing funding for adequate services and access to justice and redress to victims/survivors.

Four key areas at the international level also include similarly detailed recommendations, including calling for a “stronger, more consistent and visible” leadership role by intergovernmental bodies and the entities of the UN system, while also stressing the role of the world body in assisting countries to collect data on violence against women so as to better combat it.

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