Committee on Elimination of WOM/1351/Rev.1*
Discrimination against Women 5 August 2002
568th Meeting (AM)
STUDY ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY TO BE PRESENTED TO SECURITY COUNCIL IN OCTOBER,
SPECIAL ADVISER ON GENDER ISSUES TELLS COMMITTEE
Exceptional Session to Consider Follow-up Reports of Eleven States Parties
The Secretary-General's report on women, peace and security will be presented to the Security Council in September and the study itself in October, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela King told the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) this morning.
In opening remarks to the Committee's exceptional session, said the presentation of the study would mark the two-year anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) by which the Council mandated it. On 25 July, she presented the study's findings and recommendation to the Council. It provided a systematic overview of gender-related activities carried out by the United Nations family in the peace and security field, concluding that sustainable peace and lasting security could not be achieved without women’s empowerment and full involvement in protection, humanitarian law, girl-child soldiers, and disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and rebuilding.
She reported that with Bahrain’s ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women last 18 June, there were now 170 States parties; 75 States had signed the Optional Protocol concerning communication inquiries; and 35 States parties had accepted the amendment to article 20.1 of the Convention, on meeting times. With regard to women in decision-making in the Secretariat and the United Nations system, she said the General Assembly’s target of 50 per cent women in all professional and higher-level posts was still far from being met. Within the Secretariat, as of 30 June, women in posts subjected to geographical areas amounted to 41 per cent and for all posts, including geography, to 35 per cent. For the entire United Nations system the percentage was only 34.
The exceptional session this morning -- the Committee's third session this year –- is aimed at reducing the backlog of country reports submitted periodically to assess compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. During the three-week session, which is due to
* Revised for technical reasons.
conclude on 23 August, the Committee will consider the periodic or follow-up reports of 11 States parties: Argentina; Armenia; Barbados; Czech Republic; Greece; Guatemala; Hungary; Mexico; Peru; Uganda; and Yemen.
The decision to hold the three-week session had been adopted by the Committee at its twenty-fifth session and was based on the significant number of reports of States parties awaiting consideration. Concerned that the information contained in those reports would become obsolete, the Committee asked the General Assembly to approve, on an exceptional basis, its decision to hold the
30 additional meetings. The Assembly did so last December.
Comprising 23 experts who serve in their personal capacities, the Committee monitors implementation of the 1980 Convention. One hundred and seventy countries have ratified or acceded to the treaty, which, through its preamble and
30 articles, defines discrimination against women and sets an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. It is the only human rights treaty that affirms women’s reproductive rights and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations.
By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women: incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopting appropriate new ones; establish tribunals to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and ensure the elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.
Noting that under article 8 of the Convention, the Committee could call on States parties to provide information on how many women nationals worked for international or regional organizations, she suggested that such information could assist the Secretary-General in meeting the goal of 50 per cent gender equality.
Committee Chairperson Charlotte Abaka (Ghana) then reported on her activities since the Committee’s last session. Stressing the importance of the fourteenth meeting of the Chairpersons of the Treaty bodies in Geneva, from 24 to 26 June, she said that during a meeting between States parties and the Chairpersons, States parties welcomed the revised working methods of the Treaty bodies. Several delegates raised concerns about the involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the reporting process, as well as the accuracy of the press releases in Geneva.
Ms. Abaka also highlighted aspects of the fourth Joint Meeting with Special Mandate Holders, which had been addressed by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights. The first Inter-Committee meeting had indeed achieved the objective of better understanding by the experts of the six human rights instruments, aimed at achieving a just society based on respect for human rights for all. Recommendations from that meeting would be distributed to delegations today. Later in today’s meeting, she announced that Georgia had acceded to the Optional Protocol, bringing the total of States parties to the Protocol to 42.
Several experts expressed regret that no contact had been established between the Committee and the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. One expert asked that a letter in that regard be sent to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights. That matter would be addressed during a closed session.
Jane Connors, Chief, Women’s Rights Section, introduced agenda item 5: Implementation of article 22 of the Convention concerning the representation of specialized agencies. The Committee might invite those agencies to submit reports on the implementation of the Convention. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the International Labour Organization (ILO) had submitted reports. Representatives of specialized agencies and other bodies of the United Nations had been invited to attend the pre-session working group.
Ivanka Corti, expert from Italy, introduced the report of the pre-session Working Group for the exceptional session, on behalf of its Chairperson, Goran Melander (Sweden). The report noted, among other things, the introduction and implementation of gender-mainstreaming policies in States parties, but those had not eliminated the need for women’s specific progress, which required allocation of human and financial resources. Discussions included the deterioration of women’s health in countries with economies in transition.
In other business today, the Committee adopted its agenda and organization of work for the current session, as well as the report of the pre-session Working Group for the exceptional session.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 6 August, to begin its consideration of periodic country reports.
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