17 February 1998


17 February 1998

Press Release


19980217 The States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women this morning elected 12 experts to serve four- year terms on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, beginning 1 January 1999. The Committee is the monitoring body for the Convention.

Acting by secret ballot, the meeting elected eight new members and re-elected four current members. The expert members are nominated by governments but serve in their personal capacity.

The newly elected members are: Feng Cui, of China; Naela Gabr, of Egypt; Savitri Wimalawathie Ellepola Goonesekere, of Sri Lanka; Rosalyn Hazelle, of Saint Kitts and Nevis; Rosario G. Manalo, of the Philippines; Mavivi Lillian Yvette Myakayaka-Manzini, of South Africa; Zelmira M. E. Regazzoli, of Argentina; and Chikako Taya, of Japan.

Re-elected to the Committee were: Charlotte Abaka, of Ghana; Emna Aouij, of Tunisia; Ivanka Corti, of Italy; and Carmel Shalev, of Israel.

Addressing the meeting on behalf of the Secretary-General, Angela King, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, said that with 161 States parties to the Convention, it was second only to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as the most widely ratified human rights treaty. Despite some far-reaching reservations by certain countries, universal ratification of the Convention by the year 2000 remained an achievable goal.

At the outset of the meeting, the States parties elected the following officers for their meeting: Samir Moubarak (Lebanon), Chairperson; Wila Grace Banda Chigaga (Zambia), Karin A.M.C. Wester (Netherlands), Janis Priedkalns (Latvia), and Carlston B. Boucher (Barbados), Vice-Chairpersons.

Meetings of the States parties to the Convention are held every two years.

Work Programme of States Parties

The States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women met this morning to elect 12 members of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

The 23-member expert Committee is the monitoring body for the implementation of the Convention, the most comprehensive legally binding treaty on women's rights. Often referred to as an international bill of rights for women, the Convention sets an agenda for national action to end discrimination. The first 16 of its 30 articles call on States parties to take appropriate measures to ensure women's civil, political, economic and cultural rights and their legal equality. The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 1979 and entered into force on 3 September 1981. Experts serve the Committee in their personal capacity and are elected for four-year terms.

The 22 experts nominated for today's election and the States parties which have proposed them are as follows: *Charlotte Abaka, of Ghana; *Emna Aouij, of Tunisia; *Ivanka Corti, of Italy; Feng Cui, of China; Haydee Deutsch, of Venezuela; Hansine Napwaniyo Donli, of Nigeria; *Miriam Estrada Castillo, of Ecuador; Naela Gabr, of Egypt; Ana Isabel Garcia Quesada, of Costa Rica; Savitri Wimalawathie Ellepola Goonesekere, of Sri Lanka; *Sunaryati Hartono, of Indonesia; Rosalyn Hazelle, of Saint Kitts and Nevis; Rosario G. Manalo, of Philippines; Miria Matembe, of Uganda; Mavivi Lillian Yvette Myakayaka-Manzini, of South Africa; Ernest Njara, of Madagascar; Mamosebi Theresia Pholo, of Lesotho; Eugenie Nakpa Polo, of Togo; Rokmeenee Narainamah Ramana Narayen, of Mauritius; Zelmira M. E. Regazzoli, of Argentina; *Carmel Shalev, of Israel; Chikako Taya, of Japan; and Rosa Rita Alvarez, of the Dominican Republic. (The asterisk indicates that the expert is currently a member of the Committee.) Biographical information on the candidates is available in document CEDAW/SP/1998/3 and Add.1.

The 12 Members whose terms will expire on 31 December are: Charlotte Abaka, of Ghana; Emna Aouij, of Tunisia; Tendai Ruth Bare, of Zimbabwe; Desiree Patricia Bernard, of Guyana; Miriam Estrada Castillo, of Ecuador; Ivanka Corti, of Italy; Aurora Javate de Dios, of the Philippines; Sunaryati Hartono, of Indonesia; Ginko Sato, of Japan; Carmel Shalev, of Israel; Lin Shangzhen, of China; and Mervat Tallawy, of Egypt.

The 11 Members who will continue to serve on the Committee until 31 December 2000 are: Ayse Feride Acar, of Turkey; Carlota Bustelo Garcia del Real, of Spain; Silvia Cartwright, of New Zealand; Yolanda Ferrer Gomez, of Cuba; Aida Gonzalez, of Mexico; Salma Khan, of Bangladesh; Yung-Chung Kim, of Republic of Korea; Ahoua Ouedraogo, of Burkina Faso; Anne Lise Ryel, of Norway; Hanna Beate Schopp-Schilling, of Germany; and Kongit Sinegiorgis, of Ethiopia.

The States parties also have before them information provided by the Secretary-General according to article 28 of the Convention, on observations, declarations, objections and notifications of withdrawal of reservations relating to the Convention (document CEDAW/SP/1998/2).

By the terms of the Convention, States parties are called on to take

measures such as: guaranteeing basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of women; ensuring suppression of the traffic in and exploitation of the prostitution of women; eliminating discrimination against women in political and public life; ensuring women's equal rights to acquire, change or retain their nationality; and eliminating discrimination in the fields of education, employment, health and other areas of economic and social life. Other articles address such issues as the problems faced by rural women, equality before the law, and the elimination of discrimination against women within marriage and the family. The rights of women to take part in the political and public life of their countries and to perform all functions at all levels of government are also guaranteed by the Convention.

Article 1 of the Convention defines discrimination against women as follows: "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field".

States Parties

As at 15 January, the following 161 States have either ratified or acceded to the Convention: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania and Luxembourg.

Also, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Statement by Representative of Secretary-General

ANGELA KING, Assistant Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, spoke on behalf of the Secretary-General.

She said that 161 States were now party to the Convention, making it second only to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as the most widely ratified human rights treaty. Although the year 2000 was only two years away, the objective of universal ratification by that year remained an achievable goal.

While the Convention remained subject to a large number of reservations, including a number which were far-reaching, some progress had been made. For example, at its fifty-first session, the General Assembly reiterated the call of the Fourth World Conference on Women for States parties to limit the extent of their reservations. Furthermore, the Committee's persistent questioning about States' parties reservations during the presentation of their reports had led to the withdrawal or limitation by several States parties of those reservations.

Ms. King said that over its past three sessions, the Committee had deepened its relationship with specialized agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system and with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Such groups were now invited to present information to the Committee's pre- sessional working group on States parties' periodic reports. In addition, informal contact between Committee members and NGOs had been strengthened.

Ms. King drew attention to some of the issues raised by the Committee at its January and July 1997 sessions. Those issues, including that concerning overdue reports and the combining of reports, were contained in the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (document A/52/38/Rev.1). At its July session, the Committee adopted a general recommendation on women in public life, under articles 7 and 8 of the Convention. Also adopted was a three-stage process for the preparation of such general recommendations. It was further agreed that the next general recommendation would address issues of women's health, under article 12 of the Convention. The Committee also decided to present a statement on reservations as its contribution to the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Turning to the main purpose of today's meeting, Ms. King reminded States parties of the recommendation of the eighth meeting of persons chairing human rights treaty bodies. It stated that States parties were to refrain from nominating or electing to treaty bodies persons performing political functions or occupying positions which were not readily reconcilable with the obligations of independent experts under the given treaty.

Election to Committee

The results of the balloting were as follows: number of ballot papers, 154; number of invalid ballots 2; number of valid ballots, 152; abstentions, 0; number of representatives voting, 152; required majority, 77.

Elected were: Mavivi Lillian Yvette Myakayaka-Manzini, South Africa, 100 votes; Naela Gabr, Egypt, 98 votes; Chikako Taya, Japan, 96 votes; Feng Cui, China, 92 votes; Savitri Wimalawathie Ellepola Goonesekere, Sri Lanka, 89; Zelmira M. E. Regazzoli, Argentina, 85 votes; Rosario G. Manalo, Philippines, 81 votes; and Rosalyn Hazelle, Saint Kitts and Nevis, 79 votes.

Re-elected were: Emna Aouij, Tunisia, 119 votes; Ivanka Corti, Italy,

110 votes; Carmel Shalev, Israel, 83 votes; and Charlotte Abaka, Ghana, 79 votes.

Results for other candidates participating were as follows: Mamosebi Theresia Pholo, Lesotho, 68 votes; Sunaryati Hartono, Indonesia, 67 votes; Ana Isabel Garcia Quesada, Costa Rica, 64 votes; Rokmeenee Narainamah Ramana Narayen, Mauritius, 61 votes; Miria Matembe, Uganda, 60 votes; Ernest Njara, Madagascar, 60 votes; Eugenie Nakpa Polo, Togo, 58 votes; Miriam Estrada Castillo, Ecuador, 51 votes; Haydee Deutsch, Venezuela, 48 votes; Hansine Napwaniyo Donli, Nigeria 39; Rosa Rita Alvarez, Dominican Republic, 35 votes.

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For information media. Not an official record.