COMMITTEE ON ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN CONTINUES DISCUSSION OF ORGANIZATION OF WORK

13 January 1997
WOM/927

COMMITTEE ON ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN CONTINUES DISCUSSION OF ORGANIZATION OF WORK

13 January 1997

Press ReleaseWOM/927

COMMITTEE ON ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN CONTINUES DISCUSSION OF ORGANIZATION OF WORK

19970113 The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this afternoon clarified the mandates and organization of work for its two working groups.

The first of two standing working groups considers and suggests ways and means of expediting the work of the monitoring body for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In considering its rules of procedure, the group will take up several issues, including the Committee's relationships with specialized agencies, other treaty bodies and country-specific human rights mechanisms, such as special rapporteurs. It will deal with questions of concluding comments on country reports, as well as the Committee relationship with non-governmental organizations. The group will also examine the area of reservations to the Convention.

The second working group will deal with implementation of article 21 providing for Committee recommendations based on the examination of reports and information received from States parties. Their agenda will include discussion of the draft optional protocol allowing for groups and individuals to petition the Committee, draft general recommendations on Convention articles 7 and 8 on women in public life, and reports of specialized agencies on the implementation of the Convention.

The experts expressed concern about the timely submission of country reports and the late provision of documentation for the session. Several emphasized the importance of the latest report by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women and the Secretariat report on reservations to the Convention.

The Committee will convene again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 14 January, to begin consideration of the initial report of Morocco on its implementation of the Convention.

Committee Work Programme

The monitoring body of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women met this afternoon to continue its consideration of the mandates of its two working groups. One working group is reviewing article 21 of that treaty. The article authorizes the monitoring body, known as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, to issue suggestions and general recommendations on implementing the Convention's provisions, based on the examination of reports and information received from States parties. The other working group is reviewing ways and means of expediting the Committee's work.

In 1995, the Committee made proposals on submitting the Commission on the Status of Women the elements of a draft protocol to the Convention which would allow individual women, as well as groups, to petition the Committee directly. The Commission on the Status of Women then recommended to the Economic and Social Council that it begin work on such an optional protocol to allow the right of petition.

One working group has before it a report of the Secretariat on ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee (document CEDAW/C/1997/5) which contains a list of States parties whose reports could be considered at the subsequent session, according to geographical representation. The Secretariat report addresses a number of issues based on experience from the previous year, including relations between the Committee and specialized agencies, country rapporteurs, non-governmental organizations, as well as with other treaty bodies.

Concerning the concluding comments on reports of States parties, the report, among other suggestions, notes that the Committee might wish to develop guidelines for the introductory section of each concluding comment. It might also consider whether concluding comments relating to periodic reports should address progress that has been made since the presentation of the previous report and issues that emerged during dialogue relating to the earlier report which have or have not been addressed by the State party.

On the overall work of human rights treaty bodies, the report indicates that some steps have been taken to foster coordination between the human rights special procedures system, consisting of special and thematic rapporteurs, representatives, experts and working groups and treaty bodies. In light of the recommendations of the meeting of the persons chairing human rights treaty bodies, the Committee could reflect on ways to coordinate its work and that of the special procedures.

The document states that reports of 32 States parties are awaiting consideration by the Committee. It recommends that the Committee might consider 10 reports in its July session. It also mentions the need to

Women's Anti-Discrimination Committee - 3 - Press Release WOM/927 311th Meeting (PM) 13 January 1997

consider other methods of handling the periodic reports. One such change involves the Committee identifying a limited number of issues in relation to which a report would be requested from the State party concerned. The Committee would then conduct its dialogue on the basis on that detailed report.

Discussion

A number of experts questioned various aspects of the documentation prepared for the session. Queries were put forward about individual country reports, as well as about a report of the Secretariat on reservations to the Convention. Another question was put forward about work on the draft optional protocol allowing individuals and groups to directly petition the Committee. One expert inquired about the availability of the latest report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women and stressed its importance.

One expert questioned the submission of an updated report for Slovenia with the date of 7 January 1997, which did not allow the Committee time to examine the new information.

The Committee Secretary said that if a more recent report of the Special Rapporteur was available it would be available to the Committee. The updated report of Slovenia had been submitted by the Government, and it had been passed on to the Committee. The delegation of Slovenia had been notified that the new information had been submitted too late for formal consideration by the Committee.

An expert proposed that working group I consider the timeliness of the country reports. A discussion of the issue of updates would be appropriate in light of the situation with Slovenia. There were some administrative possibilities to deal with the backlog. Even in light of the need for fairness and accountability, the Committee needed to show a bit more creativity in dealing with the issue.

Several experts expressed concern about the late provision of documentation and the problems it created.

Clarifying the mandates of the working groups, the Committee Secretary said that working group I would work on ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee. Its particular issues would include Committee relationships with specialized agencies, other treaty bodies and country-specific human rights mechanisms. It would also deal with questions of concluding comments on country reports, as well as relationships with non-governmental organizations. The group would also examine the area of reservations to the Convention.

Women's Anti-Discrimination Committee - 4 - Press Release WOM/927 311th Meeting (PM) 13 January 1997

Working group II would deal with implementation of article 21 providing for Committee recommendations based on the examination of reports and information received from States parties. Their agenda would consider, among other issues, the draft optional protocol allowing for groups and individuals to petition the Committee, draft general recommendations on Convention articles 7 and 8 on women in public life, and reports of specialized agencies on the implementation of the Convention.

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For information media. Not an official record.