COMMISSION ON STATUS OF WOMEN APPROVES THREE DRAFT RESOLUTIONS, TWO DECISIONS, INCLUDING TEXTS ON ASSISTANCE TO PALESTINIAN WOMEN, WOMEN AND HIV/AIDS

15 March 2002
WOM/1332

COMMISSION ON STATUS OF WOMEN APPROVES THREE DRAFT RESOLUTIONS, TWO DECISIONS, INCLUDING TEXTS ON ASSISTANCE TO PALESTINIAN WOMEN, WOMEN AND HIV/AIDS

15/03/2002
Press Release
WOM/1332


Commission on Status of Women

Forty-sixth Session

12th Meeting* (AM)


COMMISSION ON STATUS OF WOMEN APPROVES THREE DRAFT RESOLUTIONS, TWO DECISIONS,


INCLUDING TEXTS ON ASSISTANCE TO PALESTINIAN WOMEN, WOMEN AND HIV/AIDS


The Commission on the Status of Women, in furtherance of its goal of promoting gender equality, approved three resolutions and two decisions this morning.  The Commission approved one of those drafts –- on assistance to Palestinian women –- by recorded vote.  It also approved, without a vote, a revised text on women and the girl child and HIV/AIDS. 


It was announced that action on a United-States led draft resolution on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan would be deferred until the closing meeting this afternoon, as would action on a text on the release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts.  Tonight’s meeting would also consider draft agreed conclusions on the two themes of the session:  integration of a gender perspective in environmental management and the mitigation of natural disasters; and the eradication of poverty through women’s empowerment.


By a recorded vote of 38 in favour to one against (United States), with no abstentions, the Commission approved the resolution on Palestinian women, which would have the Economic and Social Council call on the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to ensure the immediate resumption of the peace process.  (For details of the vote, please see Annex). 


The text would also have the Council call for tangible improvements in the difficult situation on the ground and living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families.  It would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the relevant human rights declarations and treaties, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families. 


Explaining her opposition to the text, the United States representative said that obviously her country was deeply concerned about the suffering of both the Palestinians and Israelis, including women and children, and was striving to encourage political dialogue.  The United States delegation had voted against the text because it addressed a number of issues, including references to Jerusalem, which the two parties had agreed to resolve between themselves.  She had not wanted to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations. 


__________


*     The 10th and 11th meetings were closed.


The draft resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS, sponsored by the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), was significantly revised today by the representative of Malawi before being adopted by consensus.

By its terms, the Commission reaffirmed the need for governments, supported by relevant actors, to urgently implement the commitments on the HIV/AIDS goals and objectives contained in the Declaration of Commitments on HIV/AIDS adopted by the twenty-sixth special session of the General Assembly.


Also by that text, the Commission stressed that gender equality and the empowerment of women were fundamental elements in the reduction of the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV/AIDS.  It invited the Secretary-General to take a gender perspective into account in his reports on HIV/AIDS.


Acting without a vote on a draft resolution on mainstreaming gender into policies and programmes of the United Nations, the Commission welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on measures taken and progress achieved in the follow-up to and implementation of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the special session of the General Assembly entitled:  “Women 2000:  gender, equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century.”


It also welcomed the establishment of a regular sub-item on gender mainstreaming on the Economic and Social Council’s agenda.  It welcomed the Council’s decision to devote a coordination segment, before 2002, to review and appraisal of system-wide implementation of ECOSOC-agreed conclusions 1997/2 on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system.


Two draft decisions were adopted today.  The first, submitted by Commission Chairman Othman Jerandi (Tunisia), concerned the election of the Bureau of the Commission in the first meeting of its next annual session.  The second, tabled by Vice-Chairperson Birgit Stevens (Belgium), was on other organizational matters of the Commission.


The representatives of Iran, Burundi, Israel, Venezuela, Belgium, Mexico, India, Chile, Guatemala and Iraq also spoke, as did the Permanent Observer of Palestine.


The Commission will meet again at 3 p.m. today to take action on the remaining texts and conclude its forty-sixth session.


Background


The Commission on the Status of Women met this morning to take action on a series of draft texts on:  release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts; the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women; women and girls and HIV/AIDS; situation of women and girls in Afghanistan; and mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations.  It also had before it a draft decision submitted by the Chairman on the election of the Bureau, and another submitted by a Vice-Chairperson on organizational matters of the Commission.  Also before that body was its draft report for the session. 


According to the draft resolution on the release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts (document E/CN.6/2002/ L.1/Rev.1), the Commission would condemn violent acts in contravention of international humanitarian law against civilians in armed conflict, including against women and children not involved in hostilities.  It would call for an effective response to such acts, in particular the immediate release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts. 


The Commission would also condemn the consequences of hostage-taking, in particular torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as rape, slavery, and trafficking in women and children for the purpose of their sexual exploitation, forced labour or services.


In a related provision, the Commission would strongly urge all parties to armed conflicts to respect international humanitarian law and take all necessary measures to protect civilian women and children not involved in hostilities and secure their immediate release.  It would urge all parties to provide safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance for them. 


The draft resolution is sponsored by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.


Under the draft on Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2002/L.2), sponsored by Venezuela on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, the Commission would recommend to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that it call upon the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to ensure the immediate resumption of the peace process.  It would also call for measures to effect tangible improvements in the difficult situation on the ground and in the living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families.


In that context, the Commission would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with 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, of 12 August 1949, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families. 


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


Further, the Commission would be asked to monitor and take action with regard to implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000:  gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century."


In the draft resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS (document E/CN.6/2002/L.3/Rev.1), the Commission would call on governments to intensify efforts to challenge gender stereotypes and attitudes and gender inequalities in relation to HIV/AIDS, encouraging the active participation and involvement of men and boys.


The Commission would urge governments, by 2005, to implement measures to increase the capacity of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection, principally through the provision of health care and health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, as well as through prevention education programmes that promote gender equality within a gender-sensitive framework.


Governments would also be urged to reduce the proportion of infants infected with HIV by 20 per cent by 2005, and by 50 per cent by 2010, by ensuring that

80 per cent of pregnant women accessing antenatal care had information, counselling and other HIV-prevention services, and by increasing the availability of, and providing access for HIV-infected women and babies to effective treatment to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as well as through effective interventions for HIV-infected women.  That included voluntary and confidential counselling and testing, access to treatment, especially anti-retroviral therapy and, where appropriate, breast-milk substitutes and the provision of a continuum of care. 


The draft resolution is sponsored by Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 


A draft resolution sponsored by the United States, on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan (document E/CN.6/2002/L.4/Rev.1) would have the Economic and Social Council urge the Afghan Interim Administration to continue to make progress towards ensuring the following:  the repeal of all legislative and other measures that discriminate against women and girls and impede the realization of their human rights and fundamental freedoms; the effective participation of women of all ages in civil, cultural, economic, political and social life throughout the country.


The draft would have the Council seek to ensure the equal right of women to work and their reintegration into employment in all segments and at all levels of Afghan society, as well as the right of women and girls to physical security and to seeing those responsible for attacks on them brought to justice.  It would also seek to ensure freedom of movement for women and girls.


In a related series of provisions, the Economic and Social Council would encourage the continuing efforts of the United Nations and its agencies to:  fully support the Afghan Interim Administration regarding women’s participation; provide support to ministries to help develop their capacity to mainstream a gender perspective into their programmes; support capacity-building for Afghan women to enable them to participate fully in all sectors; and develop and implement a programme of human rights education to promote respect for and understanding of human rights, including the human rights of women.


The Council would call upon the international community to continue to provide financial and technical assistance, including human rights education, to protect the human rights of women and girls and support initiatives to end violence against them and increase their economic security, as well as to strengthen the capacity of Afghan women to participate fully in conflict resolution and peace-building efforts and in civil, political, economic, cultural and social life. 


The draft on mainstreaming gender into policies and programmes of the United Nations (document E/CN.6/2002/L.5) would have the Commission welcome the Secretary-General’s report on measures taken and progress achieved in the follow-up to and implementation of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000:  gender, equality development and peace for the twenty-first century”.


The Council would also welcome the establishment of a regular sub-item on gender mainstreaming on its agenda.  It would welcome the Council’s decision to devote a coordination segment, before 2002, to the review and appraisal of system-wide implementation of ECOSOC-agreed conclusions 1997/2 on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system.


The draft resolution is sponsored by Australia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Italy, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Senegal, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.


The Commission also had before two draft decisions.  The first, submitted by its Chairman Othman Jerandi (Tunisia), concerns the election of the Bureau (document E/CN.6/2002/L.6).  The second, submitted by Vice-Chairperson Birgit Stevens (Belgium), is entitled “Further organizational matters of the Commission on the Status of Women” (document E/CN.6/2002/L.8).  Also before the Commission today was its draft report (document E/CN.6/2002/L.7).


Action on Texts


Turning to the draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2002/L.2), the Commission was informed that the draft had no effect on the programme budget.


By a recorded vote of 38 Member States voting in favour, one against (United States) and no abstentions, the Commission approved the draft resolution as contained in document E/CN.6/2002/L.2 (See Annex 1).


Explanation of Vote after Vote


The representative of the United States, in explanation of vote, said the United States was deeply concerned about the suffering of Palestinians and Israelis, including women and children.  The delegation had, however, voted against the draft, because it addressed issues such as refugees and Jerusalem which the parties had agreed to solve between them.  The United States did not want to interfere in that process.


The representative of Iran, in explanation of vote, said his delegation had voted in favour of the draft, but that position did not in any way imply the recognition of Israel as a State.


General Statements


The Permanent Observer of Palestine said the draft resolution conveyed the message that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict could not be solved by military power but only by a political solution.  Lasting peace and termination of occupation were the guarantee for Palestinian women to use their potential.  He expressed appreciation to the Group of 77 and China for tabling the draft, and thanked all members of the Commission who had voted in favour of the draft.


The representative of Burundi announced that, if the delegation had been present, it would have voted in favour of the draft.


The representative of Israel joined the Palestinian observer in her call for peace for the benefit of women and children in the region.


The Commission then turned to the resolution on women, the girl child and  HIV/AIDS (document E/CN.6/2002/L.3/Rev.1).  The Bureau announced that the following representatives had asked to join as co-sponsors:  Burkina Faso, Canada, Dominican Republic, Japan, Haiti, Croatia, Republic of Korea, Guinea, Iran, Gabon, Australia, Namibia, New Zealand, Ghana, Norway, and Iceland.


The representative of Malawi announced that she wished to revise the text. The meeting was suspended briefly to allow for a distribution of the new proposal.


[The revised text would have the Commission reaffirm the need for governments, supported by relevant actors, to urgently implement the commitments on HIV/AIDS goals and objectives contained in the “Declaration of Commitments on HIV/AIDS” adopted by the twenty-sixth special session of the General Assembly.


By further terms of the revised draft, the Commission would stress that gender equality and the empowerment of women were fundamental elements in the reduction of the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV/AIDS.  It would invite the Secretary-General in his reports on HIV/AIDS to take into account a gender perspective.]


The representative of Malawi then listed the sponsors of the revised draft: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 


The Commission was informed of the new list of co-sponsors:  Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States had joined as co-sponsors of the draft. 

Belgium, Croatia, Canada, Republic of Korea, Burkina Faso, Mongolia, Ukraine, Mexico, Burundi, Guinea, Gabon, Dominican Republic, Sudan, Algeria, Haiti, Romania and Israel had also joined as co-sponsors.


The revised resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS (document E/CN.6/2002/L.3/Rev.2) was adopted without a vote. 


It was then announced that action on the draft on Afghan women would be deferred to the afternoon meeting.


Turning to the draft resolution on mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations system (document E/CN.6/2002/L.5), the representative of Denmark announced the addition of the following co-sponsors:  Argentina, Czech Republic, Belgium, Spain, Austria, Ireland, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Tanzania, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Japan, Thailand, Mongolia, Mexico, Cyprus, Iceland, Brazil and United States.


Other co-sponsors were:  Burkina Faso, Burundi, Malawi, Malaysia, Guinea, Gabon, Dominican Republic, Tunisia, Australia, Lithuania, Bangladesh, Kenya, Angola, Indonesia, Guatemala, Ghana, Botswana, Romania, Jamaica, Israel, Namibia, Venezuela, Morocco, Suriname, India and Ukraine.


The representative of Venezuela, on a point of order, wished to correct the footnote at the bottom of the text.


The representative of Belgium requested certain changes in the French translation of the text.


The resolution on mainstreaming a gender perspective in the United Nations system (document E/CN.6/2002/L.5) was adopted without a vote.


The Commission then adopted, without a vote, the draft decision contained in document E/CN.6/2002/L.6 on the election of its Bureau.


The Commission also adopted without a vote the draft decision contained in document E/CN.6/2002/L.8 on further organizational matters of the Commission.


The representative of Mexico drew attention to an error in the Spanish translation.


The representatives of India, Belgium and Chile had a short discussion about the format of the draft decision contained in L.8.


The representative of the United States asked for clarification on the footnote referring to the first chapter of the Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.  She was concerned that the reservations on the resolution were not included in that reference.


The Chairman answered that the reference to Chapter 1 would be removed.


The representative of Guatemala said her delegation had joined the consensus on the approved resolutions.  She would however have welcomed, in any one of the drafts, a provision on the need to reinforce positive action for women in the

design and implementation of public policies, so as to pare down inequalities in access to existing resources.


The representative of Iraq said there was agreement on the content of the resolutions, and he seconded other countries in supporting those resolutions.


(annex follows)


ANNEX


Vote on draft resolution on situation of and assistance to Palestinian women


The draft text on assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2002/L.2) was approved by a recorded vote of 38 in favour to one against, with no abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Guatemala, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania.


Against:  United States.


Abstain:  None.


Absent:  Benin, Burundi, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Nicaragua, Peru.


* *** *


For information media. Not an official record.