United Nations


Commission on the Status of Women

9 February 1996

Fortieth session
11-22 March 1996
Item 3 of the provisional agenda*


          Proposals for the medium-term plan for the period 1998-2001

                         Note by the Secretary-General

1.   The Secretary-General is in the process of preparing his proposals for
the medium-term plan for the period 1998-2001.  In accordance with programme
planning regulation 4.2,

     "The medium-term plan shall be a translation of legislative mandates
     into programmes.  Its objectives and strategies shall be derived from
     the policy orientations and goals set by the intergovernmental organs. 
     It shall reflect Member States' priorities as set out in legislation
     adopted by functional and regional intergovernmental bodies within their
     spheres of competence and by the General Assembly, on advice from the
     Committee for Programme and Coordination.  In this context, subsidiary
     intergovernmental and expert bodies should, accordingly, refrain from
     making recommendations on the relative priorities of the major
     programmes as outlined in the medium-term plan and should instead
     propose, through the Committee, the relative priorities to be accorded
     to the various subprogrammes within their respective fields of 
     competence.  The medium-term plan should clearly identify new


     *   E/CN.6/1996/1.

2.   Regulation 4.16 states that:

     "Intergovernmental and expert bodies shall, when reviewing the relevant
     chapters of the proposed medium-term plan, recommend priorities among
     subprogrammes in their field of competence.  They shall refrain from
     making recommendations on priority among major programmes.  The
     Committee for Programme and Coordination, when making recommendations,
     and the Secretary-General, when making proposals on programme
     priorities, shall take into account the views of the above-mentioned

3.   The attention of the Commission is also drawn to regulation 4.15 which
states that:

     "... priorities shall be based on the importance of the objective to
     Member States, the Organization's capacity to achieve it and the real
     effectiveness and usefulness of the results."

4.   As a result of decisions by the General Assembly on the form and
structure of the medium-term plan, sections of the plan which in previous
plans were classified as programmes are now termed "subprogrammes".  For the
review of the Commission, this note presents the overall narrative of the
Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and the draft
narrative of the subprogramme on the advancement of women.

        1.  Programme.  Policy coordination and sustainable development

5.   The primary focus of the work under this programme is the provision of
support for central policy-making and coordination processes in the economic
and social sphere.  The overall orientations and objectives of the programme
derive from the Organization's responsibility to provide support for Charter
bodies of the United Nations, particularly the General Assembly and its
committees, and the Economic and Social Council, relevant resolutions
concerning international economic cooperation, and from resolutions adopted by
the General Assembly at its forty-fifth, forty-sixth and forty-eighth sessions
on the restructuring and revitalization of the United Nations in the economic,
social and related fields; as well as from relevant aspects of the mandate of
the Secretary-General as chief administrative officer of the Organization and
his responsibilities as the Chairman of the Administrative Committee on

6.   The programme is under the responsibility of the Department for Policy
Coordination and Sustainable Development which comprises the following
principal units:

     Division for Policy Coordination and Economic and Social Council Affairs

     Division for the Advancement of Women

     Division for Social Policy and Development

     Division for Sustainable Development

     Office of the Special Coordinator for Africa and Least Developed
     Countries 1/

7.   The Department's work is guided by mandates emanating from Charter
bodies and other various intergovernmental bodies to which it provides
substantive support, in particular the General Assembly, including its Second
and Third Committees, the Economic and Social Council, the Commission on
Sustainable Development, the Commission for Social Development and the
Commission on the Status of Women; or for which it provides substantive inputs
or plays a coordinating role, including the Committee on Natural Resources,
the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, the Committee on New
and Renewable Sources of Energy and on Energy for Development and the
Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.  An important set of mandates
from the Department also derive directly from United Nations conferences, the
preparation of and/or follow-up to which was entrusted to it, in particular
the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the Global
Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States,
the World Summit for Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on
Women.  It also derives from the United Nations New Agenda for the Development
of Africa in the 1990s and the Programme of Action for the Least Developed
Countries for the 1990s.

8.   In addition to the intergovernmental bodies listed above, the Department
also provides substantive and technical support to the following expert,
advisory and inter-agency bodies:

     Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

     Committee for Development Planning

     High-level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development

     Panel of High-level Personalities on African Development

     Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC)

     Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development

     Organizational Committee and Consultative Committee on Programme and
     Operational Questions of ACC

     Other parts of the ACC subsidiary machinery

9.   In carrying out its work, the Department generally aims at providing
support for better integration and coordination of the work of the United
Nations on the various aspects of development.  Its overall approach is aimed
at meeting the following general objectives:

     (a)  To strengthen the role of the Organization as a forum for debate
and consensus-building in the economic and social spheres by providing
enhanced substantive and technical support to central intergovernmental

     (b) To support standing political processes and relevant ad hoc
processes for the development of integrated and coordinated policy responses
to development issues and to emerging global problems; for the negotiation of
global agreements on norms, standards and cooperative actions; and for the
enhancement of the effectiveness of operational activities for development;

     (c) To promote and monitor, as appropriate, the implementation of agreed
plans, strategies, programmes or platforms for action, including the outcome
of United Nations conferences for which the Department has responsibility;

     (d) To support the Secretary-General in enhancing policy coherence and
coordination both within the United Nations and among United Nations system

     (e) To strengthen linkages between the United Nations and civil society
and develop innovative means of  cooperation and modes of partnership in areas
of common interest, including operational activities for development at the
country level;

     (f) To increase awareness of United Nations work in the economic and
social spheres, including through facilitation of access to United Nations
electronic information resources in the economic, social and related fields.

                    2.  Subprogramme.  Advancement of women

10.  The overall objective of the subprogramme is to achieve effective
support for the implementation of actions contained in the Beijing Declaration
and Platform for Action, including through expanded interaction with civil
society.  To that end, within its mandate as set out in chapter V of the
Platform and other intergovernmental decisions, the subprogramme will build on
its nodal position within the Organization to promote mainstreaming of gender
concerns, reflecting a rights-based approach centred on equality between women
and men.  It will help ensure mainstreaming by continuing to play its
historical advocacy role on behalf of women and to gather and analyse
information to promote accountability among all actors responsible for
implementing the Platform.

11.  The main objectives of the subprogramme and the work involved are:

     (a) To monitor the extent to which the gender dimension is reflected and
acted upon within relevant intergovernmental forums and in policies and
programmes of organizations of the United Nations system and to analyse and
develop as required policy issues of increasing importance or which may be
emerging as global trends.  To that end, a series of policy analyses of
economic, social, environmental and political issues raised in the Platform
for Action will be prepared to assist intergovernmental bodies, especially the
Commission on the Status of Women and the Economic and Social Council.  The
gender analyses will be developed by drawing on United Nations statistics and
indicators, specialized research and programme experience of other
organizations of the United Nations system, expert groups and seminars,
bringing together specialists from Governments, non-governmental organizations
and academic institutions;

     (b) To improve, as a particular application of its rights-based
approach, monitoring of the extent of women's enjoyment of their human rights
and whether violations of their rights are dealt with by all human rights
mechanisms.  To that end, a series of analyses will be prepared, providing
information on gender factors that are significant in the review by human
rights treaty bodies of the reports of States parties under the various human
rights conventions in order to encourage compliance with these instruments.  A
series of studies on discrimination against women and its causes in specific
circumstances will be developed as inputs into the deliberations of the
Commission on the Status of Women and the Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women;

     (c) To support, by analysis and collection of information, the
development and strengthening of human rights mechanisms, including the
optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women, or the increased use of existing mechanisms;

     (d) To monitor the implementation of the system-wide medium-term plan
for the advancement of women.  Reports will be prepared that will serve as a
basis for intergovernmental monitoring of system-wide implementation of
commitments under the Platform for Action; 

     (e) To maintain a continuous dialogue on gender issues among
organizations of the system directly, as well as through the machinery of the
Administrative Committee on Coordination; 

     (f) To maintain an interactive exchange of information with specialized
constituencies related to the Platform for Action.  To that end, a system will
be designed and implemented, which will involve the use of electronic
communication through the Internet, provision of information to national
machinery and specialized constituencies and reception of information from
these institutions.

         3.  Mandates of the subprogramme on the advancement of women

     General Assembly resolution 50/203, entitled "Follow-up to the Fourth
     World Conference on Women", in which the Assembly endorsed the Beijing
     Declaration and Platform for Action and set the parameters for its

     General Assembly resolution 34/180 of 18 December 1979, in which the
     Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
     Discrimination against Women

     General Assembly resolution 48/121 of 20 December 1993 entitled "World
     Conference on Human Rights" in which the Assembly endorsed the Vienna
     Declaration and Programme of Action

     Commission on the Status of Women resolution 39/5 on the human rights of

     Economic and Social Council resolutions 76 (V) of 5 August 1947 and
     304 (XI) on communications concerning the status of women and 1992/19 on
     the communications procedure of the Commission on the Status of Women


     1/  Concerning Africa, the work programme of the Office of the Special
Coordinator for Africa and Least Developed Countries is, pursuant to General
Assembly resolution 45/253 reflected in a separate programme.



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