15 February 1996
ADVANCE UNEDITED COPY

COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
Fortieth session
New York, 11-22 March 1996
Item 3 of the provisional agenda


              FOLLOW-UP TO THE FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN

        Mandate, methods of work and multi-year work programme of the
                      Commission on the Status of Women

                       Report by the Secretary-General

                                   Summary

       At its 39th session, the Commission on the Status of Women requested
a report by the Secretary-General on follow-up to the Fourth World
Conference on Women.  In its resolution 50/203 of 22 December 1995, the
General Assembly invited the Economic and Social Council to strengthen the
mandate of the Commission and requested the Commission to develop a multi-
year programme of work and consider how it could integrate into its
programme of work the follow-up to the Conference and how it could develop
its catalytic role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in United Nations
activities.  The report discusses the mandate of the Commission, possible
improvements in its method of work and proposes a multi-year programme of
work.


                                INTRODUCTION

1.    In its resolution 50/203 of 22 December 1995, the General Assembly
decided that the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission
on the Status of Women, in accordance with their respective mandates and with
Assembly resolution 48/162 of 20 December 1993 and other relevant resolutions,
shall constitute a three-tiered intergovernmental mechanism that will play the
primary role in the overall policy-making and follow-up, and in coordinating
the implementation and monitoring of the Platform for Action.  It invited the
Economic and Social Council to review and strengthen the mandate of the
Commission on the Status of Women, taking into account the Platform for Action
as well as the need for synergy with all other related commissions and
conference follow-up.  It decided that the Commission on the Status of Women
should have a central role in the monitoring, within the United Nations
system, of the implementation of the Platform for Action and in advising the
Council thereon.  It requested the Commission to develop its multi-year
programme of work for the period 1996-2000 at its fortieth session so that it
can review the critical areas of concern in the Platform for Action and to
consider how it could integrate into its programme of work the follow-up to
the Conference and how it could develop its catalytic role in mainstreaming a
gender perspective in United Nations activities.

2.    At its fortieth session, the Commission should review its mandate,
programme of work and organization of work in order to take decisions and make
recommendations on how best it can follow up the Fourth World Conference on
Women.  This report is intended to assist in the Commission■s deliberations.

                         I.  GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

3.    It can be assumed that from 1996 through 2000, the main focus of work of
the Commission on the Status of Women will be follow-up to the Fourth World
Conference on Women and implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform
for Action.  In determining its specific follow-up role, the Commission may
wish to take into account a number of general considerations, including:

      ■  Its role as a functional subsidiary body of the Economic and Social
         Council in which it provides advice to the Council in the form of
         recommendations contained in its own resolutions and in the form of
         draft resolutions for action by the Council;

      ■  The role of the Council in coordination of United Nations system
         activities in the economic and social sectors and in integrated
         follow-up to recent United Nations conferences;
 
      ■  Standing mandates of the Commission on the Status of Women which,
         while closely related to the implementation of the Platform for
         Action, predate the Fourth World Conference on Women, especially in
         the area of human rights;

      ■  The limited time available for meetings of the Commission, now
         normally set at eight working days per annual session;

      ■  The need to involve organizations of the United Nations system and
         of civil society in the work of the Commission, since
         recommendations in the Platform for Action are addressed to them.

                       II.  MANDATE OF THE COMMISSION

4.    The Commission■s current mandate is based on the original mandate given
in Economic and Social Council resolution 2(II) of 21 June 1946 as modified by
Council resolution 48(IV) of 29 March 1947:

      -The functions of the Commission shall be to prepare recommendations and
      reports to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women■s rights
      in political, economic, social and educational fields.  The Commission
      shall also make recommendations to the Council on urgent problems
      requiring immediate attention in the field of women■s rights with the
      object of implementing the principle that men and women shall have equal
      rights, and to develop proposals to give effect to such
      recommendations.■

5.    The basic mandate was supplemented by Economic and Social Council
resolution 1987/22 of 26 May 1987, which was a result of the Commission■s
session of 1987 on follow-up to the Nairobi Conference, in which the Council:

      -Decides  to expand the terms of reference of the Commission on the
      Status of Women to include the functions of promoting the objectives of
      equality, development and peace, monitoring the implementation of
      measures for the advancement of women, and reviewing and appraising
      progress made at the national, subregional, regional, sectoral and
      global levels.■

6.    Under the terms of General Assembly resolution 50/203, there is -a
three-tiered intergovernmental mechanism that will play the primary role in
the overall policy-making and follow-up, and in coordinating the
implementation and monitoring of the Platform for Action.■  The Commission is
the first tier of the mechanism, which -as a functional commission assisting
the Economic and Social Council, shall have a central role in the monitoring,
within the United  Nations system, of the implementation of the Platform for
Action and in advising the Council thereon.■

7.    The Assembly specified part of the outline of that role when it
requested the Commission  -to consider how it could integrate into its
programme of work the follow-up to the Conference and how it could develop its
catalytic role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in United Nations
activities, taking into account the need for a focused and thematic approach
to the review of the Platform for Action and the contribution that can be made
by all other functional commissions of the Council.■

8.    In addition to the existing mandates, this might imply that, through
reviewing the implementation of strategic objectives and actions in the
critical areas of concern contained in the Platform for Action, the Commission
could make substantive recommendations to the Council on trends, emerging
issues and new approaches to issues that are being dealt with in the
mainstream in terms of the Platform for Action.  It would also imply examining
the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the activities of organizations
of the United Nations system as they pertain to the implementation of the
Platform for Action, as an input into the wider reviews of coordination and
operational activities to be undertaken by the Council.

9.    With regard to coordination, it would be important to define a practical
approach to examining the extent of mainstreaming, bearing in mind the
relative mandates of the Commission and of the Council in coordination.  The
Commission has, for the purpose of focus, the system-wide medium-term plan on
advancement of women, which, once revised and adopted by the Council, it has
been given the responsibility to monitor together with the Committee for
Programme and Coordination.  It also has a responsibility, under the
regulations and rules governing programme planning and budgeting, to review
the technical content and consistency of programme plans and proposals of the
United Nations itself.  It can also, in examining substantive issues related
to the Platform, draw conclusions about the consistency and adequacy of system
response which can be brought to the attention of the Council.

                 III.  STRUCTURE OF THE COMMISSION■S AGENDA

10.   In the light of the above considerations, it would be important to
maintain a certain degree of flexibility in the agenda for sessions through
2000, particularly in terms of how substantive work is combined for
discussion, while agreeing on a consistent structure that corresponds to the
mandate.  The current agenda structure, adopted in 1987, includes essentially
three items:  priority themes, programming and coordination matters, and an
omnibus items entitled -monitoring the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-
looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women.■  Since 1992, the Commission,

because of its role as preparatory body for the Conference, has followed a
modified agenda, as was also the case for the provisional agenda adopted by
the Economic and Social Council for the fortieth session in 1996.

11.   By a decision of the Bureau of the Commission on 6 February 1996, the
proposed agenda for the fortieth session has been streamlined to reflect the
need to focus on follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women.  This
approach constitutes a starting point for examining the agenda for subsequent
sessions.  In addition to a sub-item on mandate, methods of work and the
multi-year programme of work of the Commission, which is applicable only to
the 40th session, the agenda includes sub-items on mainstreaming in the United
Nations system and on implementation of the strategic objectives and actions
in the critical areas of concern.

12.   Building on this experience, a possible approach to the agenda would be
to combine the need for a long-term work programme with a built-in flexibility
in the consideration of issues, as well as a clearer specification of what was
formerly contained under the omnibus item.  The following structure could be
suggested:

      ■  An item reviewing implementation of the strategic objectives and
         actions in the critical areas of concern in the Platform for Action
         or parts thereof on an individual or combined basis.  The purpose of
         that item would be to provide a focused discussion of the issues
         addressed by the Platform for Action in terms of trends, emerging
         issues, effective measures and in terms of the consistency of work
         by organizations of the United Nations system.

      ■  An item consisting of issues arising from the discussions of the
         Council or other intergovernmental bodies on which input from the
         Commission is considered important, including its review of trends,
         emerging issues and, to the extent that this is relevant, the
         coherence of work by organizations of the United Nations system in
         gender mainstreaming.

      ■  An item on enjoyment by women of their human rights, containing work
         related to the long-standing work of the Commission in the
         development and monitoring of human rights instruments, the
         Commission■s communication procedure, consideration of how to ensure
         that the United Nations human rights mechanisms address on a regular
         basis violations of the human rights of women, in cooperation with
         the Centre for Human Rights, and regularly take stock of that
         integration process while carrying out its central role of
         monitoring activities relating to the status of women, reviewing the
         joint workplan of the  Division for the Advancement of Women and the
         Centre for Human Rights, and consideration of relevant information
         on other rights-based issues such as that provided by the United
         Nations Development Fund for Women on its operational work on
         violence against women.

      ■  An item on review of mainstreaming in organizations of the United
         Nations system emphasizing the system-wide medium-term plan, review
         of programmes and plans of the United Nations, matters related to
         the situation of women in the Secretariat.

13.   In order to meet the request by the General Assembly to the Secretary-
General to report annually to the Commission on the Status of Women and to the
General Assembly, through the Economic and Social Council, on the measures
taken and the progress achieved in the implementation of the Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action, it could be understood that the entire
agenda should be seen in the context of follow-up.  The Secretary-General
could prepare a comprehensive paper synthesizing all of the items in the
Commission■s agenda for a given session, with a view to providing Member
States with an overview of implementation.  In the next stage of reporting,  a
summary of the results of the Commission■s deliberations would be added for
the consideration of the Economic and Social Council.  The final version of
the report, to the Assembly, would add the results of the deliberations of the
Economic and Social Council.

14.   It would be assumed that much of reporting on national and regional
experience in implementing the Platform for Action would be dealt with through
the consideration of specific issues in the multi-year programme of work. 
However, at various points a more comprehensive approach could be envisaged,
to be incorporated in the report noted in paragraph 13.  For example, the
Platform for Action requests all Member States to prepare national strategies
for implementing the Platform for Action by the end of 1996.  To the extent
that these are provided to the Secretariat, an analysis could be prepared and
submitted to the Commission at its session in 1998.  Similarly, the third
review and appraisal of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the
Advancement of Women, including of implementation of the Platform for Action,
is scheduled for 2000.  This should reflect national experience and would
normally be based on national reporting.

                          IV.  MULTI-YEAR WORK PLAN

15.   At present, the Commission has had a multi-year work plan only for
priority themes.  However, given the specificity of the Platform and the
desirability of programming over a longer period, it would be useful to 
establish, to the extent possible, a multi-year work plan for those agenda
items which have variable substantive themes.

         A.  Implementation of the strategic objectives and actions
       in the critical areas of concern

16.   In terms of the Commission■s focus on implementation of the strategic
objectives and actions in the critical areas of concern, it would be important
to ensure that, over the period 1996-2000, all of the strategic objectives and
actions in the critical areas of concern should be considered, either through
the item on implementation or through examination of an emerging issue.  It
can be assumed, for example, that environment in its widest sense could be
dealt with in the context of emerging issues.  Table 1 shows a possible
organization of areas for consideration over the period under the item on
implementation of the strategic objectives and actions in the critical areas
of concern.


       Table 1.  Possible schedule for consideration of implementation
           of the strategic objectives and actions in the
           critical areas of concern


Session            Strategic objectives and             Comment
                   actions in the critical areas 
                   of concern

Fortieth (1996)    Poverty (A), Women and
                   media(J)

Forty-first (1997) Decision-making (G)            Would permit a combined
                                                  discussion of all issues
                   Economic decision-making       related to actions in the
                   (part of F)                    Platform designed to
                                                  increase the participation
                   Armed conflict decision-       women in decision-making
                   making (part of E)

                   Environmental decision-
                   making (part of K)

Forty-second(1998) Women's human rights (I)       Would permit a consolidated
                                                  consideration of the main
                   The girl child (L)             rights-based parts of the
                                                  Platform for Action and
                   Violence against women (D)     would permit an input to
                                                  review of the
                   Rights aspects of armed        implementation of the
                   conflict, (E), poverty (A),    Vienna Declaration and
                   economic structure (F) and     Programme of Action
                   environment (K)

Forty-third (1999) Education (B)                  Would permit a consolidated
                                                  consideration of issues
                   Health (C)                     related to basic services as
                                                  inputs for empowerment,
                                                  including family planning
                                                  services, and would permit
                                                  an input into the five-year
                                                  review of the
                                                  implementation of the
                                                  International Conference on
                                                  Population and Development
                                                  programme of action

Forty-forth (2000) Comprehensive review of
                   entire platform, based on
                   the third review and
                   appraisal of the Nairobi
                   Forward-looking strategies
                                             

                             B.  Emerging issues

17.   It would be desirable to limit the emerging issues to be discussed each
year to two.  One could be a comprehensive issue that would be related to the
multi-year programme of work of the Council or the General Assembly that could
be programmed in advance.  The other could be an issue that would be agreed by
the bureau of the Commission on the basis of decisions by the Economic and
Social Council or the General Assembly.  Pending the determination of the
Economic and Social Council■s multi-year programme, it would be possible to
specify only that environment should be considered in 1997 in order to permit
an input to the Special Session of the General Assembly on the implementation
of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. 

             C.  Review of mainstreaming in organizations of the
           United Nations system

18.   It can be assumed that the Commission will want to deal with the issue
of the status of women in the Secretariat on an annual basis.  Under existing
mandates, the Commission should also examine programme proposals on
advancement of women in 1997 and 1999 and any modifications in the medium-term
plan for the period 1998-2001 in 1998.

19.   The Commission might decide, in the context of its review of the system-
wide medium-term plan, to request a mid-term report on implementation for 1998
and again in 2000  as part of the over-all review.

20.   During the period, under the terms of General Assembly resolution
50/203, the Economic and Social Council is expected to devote one coordination
segment to implementation of the Platform.  While the date has not been set,
the Commission might consider recommending 1998 as the date, to benefit from
the review of the system-wide medium-term plan.

                          V.  ORGANIZATION OF WORK

21.   There has been considerable concern in a number of intergovernmental
bodies about using methods of work that will make maximum use of the time
available during each Commission session.  The importance of an interactive
method has been stressed and is increasingly being used by the Council and its
subsidiaries.

22.   For the fortieth session, the Bureau of the Commission has decided, on
an experimental basis, to propose that the Commission organize its substantive
work on implementation of the strategic objectives and actions in the critical
areas of concern around a sequence of dialogues leading to agreed action-
oriented conclusions on the issues concerned.  The dialogues would permit
governments, organizations of the United Nations system and members of civil
society, to whom action recommendations have been addressed under the
Platform, to discuss practical issues of implementation.  Under the agreed
approach each theme would be dealt with through up to three meetings, based on
dialogues.

      ■  The dialogue on the theme would start with an expert panel, which
         would make presentations on the main issues involved and would
         respond to questions.  The panel composition would vary according to
         issue, but could normally include an expert appointed by the
         Secretary-General to present an overview, an expert provided by the
         organization of the United Nations system most closely associated
         with the issue, at least two experts from Governments who had a
         particular expertise or experience in measures related to the issue
         and an expert from civil society.

      ■  The dialogue would continue with a meeting at which those
         organizations of the United Nations system working in the issue
         area, and in some areas a number of organizations of civil society
         could make presentations of their perspectives on the issues and
         respond to comments and questions.

      ■  The dialogue would conclude with an informal meeting among
         Government delegations from which agreed conclusions that would
         prepared by the Chair could emerge.  The draft conclusions could be
         subject  to the usual consultations before their final adoption.

23.   At the fortieth session, it was decided that some issues required three
dialogues, while others where coordination issues were less acute, could be
dealt with by two dialogues.  In future sessions, the allocation of time to
dialogues could be done flexibly in terms of both the item on implementation
of the strategic objectives and actions in the critical areas of concern and
the item on emerging issues.

24.   The composition and selection of participants in the expert panel could
be decided, inter-sessionally, by the Bureau of the Commission on the basis of
proposals by the Secretariat.

25.   Finally, as a matter of practice, at most of its sessions since 1990,
the Commission has requested provision of services for a working group (or
groups) to meet in parallel with the plenary of the Commission.  This has
facilitated informal negotiations of complex texts.  It can be assumed that,
in terms of the work programme of the Commission, in both enjoyment of women■s
human rights and programming and coordination, it might be desirable to
consider requesting at least one parallel workings group routinely during
sessions from 1997-2000.


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