COMMISSION HEARS INTRODUCTION OF RESOLUTIONS ON HOSTAGE-TAKING, PALESTINIAN WOMEN, HIV/AIDS, DISCRIMINATION IN AFGHANISTAN AND GENDER MAINSTREAMING

12 March 2001
WOM/1277

COMMISSION HEARS INTRODUCTION OF RESOLUTIONS ON HOSTAGE-TAKING, PALESTINIAN WOMEN, HIV/AIDS, DISCRIMINATION IN AFGHANISTAN AND GENDER MAINSTREAMING

12/03/2001
Press ReleaseWOM/1277

Commission on Status of Women

Forty-fifth Session

10th Meeting (PM)

COMMISSION HEARS INTRODUCTION OF RESOLUTIONS ON HOSTAGE-TAKING, PALESTINIAN WOMEN,

HIV/AIDS, DISCRIMINATION IN AFGHANISTAN AND GENDER MAINSTREAMING

As the Commission on the Status of Women met this afternoon to continue its consideration of follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and to the special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000:  gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century", it heard the introduction of five draft resolutions.

By the terms of a draft on the release of women and children taken hostage and imprisoned in armed conflicts, which was introduced by the Azerbaijan’s representative, the Commission would condemn violent acts in contravention of international humanitarian law against civilian women and children in areas of armed conflict, and call for an effective response to such acts, including the immediate release of women and children taken hostage and imprisoned in armed conflicts.

By the terms of a text on the Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, introduced by Iran’s representative and recommended for adoption by the Economic and Social Council, the Council would call upon the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to exert all the necessary efforts to ensure the immediate resumption of the peace process on its agreed basis, and call for measures for tangible improvements in the difficult situation on the ground and living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families.

By other terms, the Council would also demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the regulations annexed to The Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (12 August 1949), in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families.

According to a draft on Women, girls and HIV/AIDS, which was introduced by Namibia’s representative, the Commission would urge all governments to take all necessary measures to empower women, strengthen their economic independence, and to protect and promote their human rights and fundamental freedoms in order to allow them to better protect themselves from HIV/sexually transmitted infections.

The Commission would also stress that every effort should be made by governments, relevant agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations, and

intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to individually and collectively place combating HIV/AIDS as a priority in the development agenda.

By the terms of draft on the Discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan, introduced by the representative of the United States and orally amended, the Economic and Social Council would strongly condemn the continuing grave violations of the human rights of women and girls, including all forms of discrimination against them in all areas of Afghanistan, particularly in areas under the control of the Taliban.

The Council would also condemn the continued restrictions on women’s access to health care and the systematic violation of their human rights in Afghanistan, including the restrictions on access to education and employment outside of the home, on freedom of movement and on freedom from intimidation, harassment and violence. 

By other terms, the Council would urge all the Afghan parties, in particular the Taliban, to immediately end all human rights violations against women and girls.  Among the urgent actions called for are the repeal of all legislative and other measures that discriminate against women and girls and impede the realization of their human rights.

By the terms of a draft resolution on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system, introduced by Canada’s representative, the Economic and Social Council would decide to establish, in the context of its general segment, a regular item on its agenda on mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations system.

The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow to hold an expert panel discussion entitled:  Gender and all forms of discrimination, in particular racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Background

The Commission on the Status of Women met this afternoon to continue its consideration of follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and to the special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000:  gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century".

It had before it draft resolutions on:  the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women; release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts; women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS; discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan; and mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system.

Draft on Situation of and Assistance to Palestinian Women

By the terms of the text (document E/CN.6/2001/L.2), which is sponsored by Iran, the Economic and Social Council would call upon the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to exert all the necessary efforts to ensure the immediate resumption of the peace process on its agreed basis, and call for measures for tangible improvements in the difficult situation on the ground and living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families.

By other terms, the Council would also demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the regulations annexed to The Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (12 August 1949), in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families.

By further terms, the Council would call upon Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties, in compliance with relevant United Nations resolutions.  The Council would also urge Member States, financial organizations of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and other relevant institutions to intensify efforts to provide financial and technical assistance to Palestinian women, especially during the transitional period.

Draft on Release of Women and Children Taken Hostage, Including Those Subsequently Imprisoned, in Armed Conflicts

By the terms of a 10-Power text (document E/CN.6/2001/L.3), the Commission on the Status of Women would condemn violent acts in contravention of international humanitarian law against civilian women and children in areas of armed conflict, and call for an effective response to such acts, including the immediate release of such women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts.

By other terms, the Commission would strongly urge all parties to armed conflicts to fully respect the norms of international humanitarian law in armed conflict and to take all necessary measures for the protection of these women and children and for their immediate release.  It would urge all parties to armed conflicts to provide safe unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance for these women and children.  The Commission would also ask the Secretary-General and all relevant international organizations to use their capabilities and efforts to facilitate the release of these women and children.

The text is co-sponsored by  Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Suriname, Tajikistan and Turkey.

Text on Women, Girl Child and HIV/AIDS

By the terms of an eight-Power draft (document E/CN.6/2001/L.4), the Commission on the Status of Women would urge all governments to take all necessary measures to empower women, strengthen their economic independence and to protect and promote their human rights and fundamental freedoms in order to allow them to better protect themselves from HIV/sexually transmitted infections.

The Commission would stress that every effort should be made by governments, relevant agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations, and intergovernmental organizations and NGOs, individually and collectively, to place combating HIV/AIDS as a priority in the development agenda and to implement effective prevention strategies and programmes, especially for the most vulnerable populations, including women, young girls and infants, also taking into account prevention of mother-to-child transmissions.

By other terms of the text, the Commission would call upon the international community, relevant agencies and funds and programmes of the United nations and intergovernmental organizations and NGOs to intensify their support for national efforts against HIV/AIDS, including efforts to provide affordable anti-retroviral drugs, particularly for women and young girls, in the worst-hit regions in Africa and where the epidemic is severely setting back national development gains.

The Commission would urge governments to take steps to create an environment that promotes compassion and support for people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS; to provide the legal framework to protect the rights of people with AIDS; to enable the vulnerable to have access to appropriate voluntary counseling services; and to encourage efforts to reduce discrimination and stigmatization.  It would also urge governments, relevant agencies, funds and programmes of the United nations and intergovernmental organizations and NGOs to create an environment and conditions that will take care of and support children orphaned by AIDS.

By other terms the Commission would ask governments to provide comprehensive health care for women and girls with HIV, and also ensure that condoms and treatments for sexually transmitted infections are affordable and available in places accessible to women while ensuring their privacy.  It would also ask the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and its co-sponsors, bilateral and multilateral donors and intergovernmental organizations and NGOs, in their efforts to prevent HIV infection, to give urgent and priority attention to the situation of women and girls in Africa.

The draft is sponsored by Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

Draft on Discrimination against Women and Girls in Afghanistan

By the terms of 10-Power draft (document E/CN.6/2001/L.5), the Economic and Social Council would strongly condemn the continuing grave violations of the human rights of women and girls, including all forms of discrimination against them in all areas of Afghanistan, particularly in areas under the control of the Taliban.

The Council would also condemn the continued restrictions on women’s access to health care and the systematic violation of their human rights in Afghanistan, including the restrictions on access to education and employment outside of the home, on freedom of movement and on freedom from intimidation, harassment and violence. 

By other terms, the Council would urge all the Afghan parties, in particular the Taliban, to immediately end all human rights violations against women and girls.  Among the urgent actions called for are the repeal of all legislative and other measures that discriminate against women and girls and impede the realization of their human rights.

By further terms, the Council would appeal to all States and to the international community to ensure that all humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan is based on the principle of non-discrimination, integrates a gender perspective, and actively attempts to promote the participation of both women and men and peace and respect for fundamental human rights.  It would also urge all Afghan factions, in particular the Taliban, to ensure the safety and protection of all United Nations and humanitarian workers in Afghanistan and to allow them, regardless of their gender, to carry out their work unhindered.

The draft is co-sponsored by Argentina, Guatemala, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Turkey, Observer for Switzerland and the United States.

Draft on Mainstreaming Gender Perspective into All Policies and Programmes

in United Nations System

By the terms of a 20-power draft decision (document E/CN.6/2001/L.6), the Commission on the Status of Women would recommend its adoption by the Economic and Social Council.  The Council would then decide to establish, in the context of its general segment, a regular item on its agenda on mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations system.  The Council would also devote a future coordination segment, by 2005, to the review and appraisal of the system-wide implementation of agreed conclusions 1997/2 on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the Organization’s system and to identify further strategies for their implementation.

The Council would further decide to intensify its efforts to ensure that gender mainstreaming is an integral part of all activities concerning integrated and coordinated follow-up to the United Nations conferences.

In introducing draft resolution E/CN.6/2001/L.3, entitled “Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts”, Ms. OMAROVA (Azerbaijan) said that since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, the world had not changed for the better, and the cruel and ugly phenomenon of taking women and children hostage during armed conflicts still existed and was widely condemned.  The practice was becoming more common, although it violated international humanitarian law.

The draft resolution, she continued, had several aspects, although the humanitarian aspect remained the principal one.  The draft brought to light cases of women and children being taken hostage during armed conflicts.  It had acquired more significance because of its preventive character and because it served as a barrier for any party in armed conflict that might be engaged in the practice of hostage-taking.  She hoped that the resolution would achieve positive results in the areas of reconciliation and post-conflict rehabilitation.

She drew the Commission’s attention to a new preambular paragraph 1 which now read:  “Having considered with appreciation within the report of the Secretary-General on the follow-up to and implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the section concerning the release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned in armed conflict”.

In preambular paragraph 3, after the words “by the Fourth World Conference on Women”, she said the following words should be inserted:  “and the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled ‘Women 2000:  gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century".

The same amendment should be made at the end of preambular paragraph 6, she continued.  The text should read:  “Expressing its strong belief that the rapid and unconditional release of women and children taken hostage in areas of armed conflict will promote the implementation of the noble goals enshrined in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action and the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000:  gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

Introducing draft resolution E/CN.6/2001/L.4 entitled “Women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS, NDAWAFA AINO NGHIFINDAKA (Namibia), on behalf of the 14 countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), said the region was the most affected by the HIV/AIDS and had, therefore, felt compelled to table the resolution.  That particular resolution, she recalled, had been before the Commission since 1999; the text was, therefore, not new, but had been amended to take account of the General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS.  She called on all delegations to support the resolution and hoped it would be adopted by consensus.  She said that the SADC countries had met with some delegations that had asked for amendments to the text, but there was general support for the resolution.

Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, MOSTAFA ALAEI (Iran), in his introduction of draft resolution E/CN.6/2001/L.2 entitled the “The Situation of and assistance to Palestinian Women”, said that according to the Secretary-General’s report, there had been little progress made in alleviating the plight of Palestinian women.  Since September 2000, the situation had deteriorated at an alarming level.  They badly needed assistance to overcome the obstacles to development that they faced.  The paragraphs contained in the resolution were similar to those contained in last year’s except for the addition of two new paragraphs referring to the current situation on the ground. He emphasized the need to resume the peace process on its agreed basis and hoped that the resolution would further contribute to the advancement of Palestinian women and the achievement of tangible results to resolve the situation on the ground.

In introducing draft resolution E/CN.6/2001/L.5, MIRTA ALVAREZ (United States) said her country remained deeply concerned about the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, especially in the Taliban-controlled areas.  Their movements were severely restricted, and they were deprived of access to health care, education and employment.  Their overall situation remained unacceptable. Since the United States was concerned about the plight of women and girls all over the world, it was, therefore, concerned over discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan which was official policy.

She recalled that the Special Rapporteur had written of the systematic violation of the human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan which had been declared official policy by the Taliban and described it as very sad, that the rapporteur had felt the need to highlight this situation.  She acknowledged that the Taliban had agreed to give girls access to primary education and called on everyone to join hands in deploring the overall situation of women and girls in Afghanistan.

She then drew the Commission’s attention to changes in the original draft resolution.  In preambular paragraph 6, the words “to the physical security of the person and integrity, as well as the ... ” have been added after the words “as documented by the continued and substantiated reports of grave violations”.  An addition to paragraph 6 reads “Further deplores the July 2000 edict of the Taliban barring Afghan women from working in foreign organizations and NGOs, as well as the August 2000 statute on the activities of the United Nations in Afghanistan.”

The following words “and to this end encourages such measures as the establishment of culturally sensitive programmes to sensitize Afghan officials, ministry staff and technical departments on international principles of human rights and gender equality”, she said, should be added to operative paragraph 5.  To operative paragraph 9 should be added the following paragraph:  “Encourages United Nations agencies to intensify their efforts to employ more women in their programmes in Afghanistan, particularly at the decision-making level to ensure, inter alia, the functioning of all programmes to address the needs of the female population.  And to the end of operative paragraph 11, the following words should be added:  “and urges particularly those countries having a certain influence over the situation in Afghanistan to continue to bring pressure to bear on the armed groups to respect women’s fundamental human rights in all circumstances”.

KELTIE PATTERSON (Canada), in her introduction of the draft resolution E/CN.6/2001/L.6 entitled “Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system”, said that the sponsors of the resolution believed that it was time to establish a more regular, systematic effort at the intergovernmental level to promote and monitor the efforts of United Nations entities to mainstream gender considerations into their work,

To this end, she added, the draft resolution recommended, among other things, that the Economic and Social Council create a regular agenda item

dedicated to the question.  It also suggested that the Council dedicated a further coordination segment to that topic before 2005.

The sponsors of the text, she continued, had already held one open-ended consultation with interested delegations and had subsequently been engaged in discussions on specific aspects with them.  It was the sponsors' intention and expectation that those consultations would enable them at a later stage this week to adopt, by consensus, a strong resolution on that important subject.  She expressed appreciation for the significant support and interest demonstrated by all delegation for the resolution.

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For information media. Not an official record.