Commission on Status of Women
7th Meeting (AM)
WOMEN’S COMMISSION DISCUSSES POSSIBLE CHANGES TO REPORTING PROCEDURES
ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
The Commission on the Status of Women continued its forty-seventh session this morning with a discussion on how to improve its communications procedure for reports about violations of women’s human rights.
Based on a report to the Commission by the Secretary-General, introduced by Carolyn Hannan, Director, Division for the Advancement of Women, there were two options. The first was to make minor changes and maintain the existing procedure as a mechanism for identifying general patterns and trends. The second option would be to modify the procedure so that the Commission could examine violations in greater depth.
The possible modifications are: changing the procedure into a gender-specific “situations” mechanism, similar to the “1503 procedure” of the Commission on Human Rights, which would allow study of rights violations in specific countries; appoint a special rapporteur, which would provide an avenue for redress of individual grievances; or appoint a thematic special rapporteur to collect information.
Iran’s representative began by characterizing the discussion as baseless. Both the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Human Rights were functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council, with separate mechanisms for communications, he said. The Human Rights Commission dealt with confidential communications, while the Women’s Commission dealt with public communications identifying trends and patterns, with no provision for looking into individual cases.
Noting that many charter and treaty bodies had mechanisms for receiving individual complaints, he said there was no justification for creating another. Further, changing the Women’s Commission’s communications procedure meant the Human Rights Commission’s mandate would have to change to avoid duplication of work. The real question before the Commission was the distinction between the mandates of the Human Rights and the Women’s Commissions. There should be a synergy between the different bodies of the United Nations, but each should stay within its own mandate.
In the ensuring discussion, China, Libya, Cuba, Australia and the United States agreed with Iran’s point of view. They favored only minor changes to the existing communications procedure for a variety of procedural and economic reasons. Others voiced serious concern about compromising the confidential nature
of information received by the 53-member Human Rights Commission, which would share it with the 45-member Women’s Commission. Others highlighted the legal ramifications of the second approach, which would involve changing the Commission’s mandate, while still others said the approach risked “politicizing” the Commission’s work.
Delegations that favored the creation of a new mechanism within the Commission said the time had come to make it possible for the Commission to examine patterns of concrete discrimination. The representative of Argentina for example, said that at present the Commission’s Working Group on Communications had to avoid duplicating the efforts of the Human Rights Commission and other bodies. Designing a separate mechanism within the Commission that focused on discrimination, and not other civil and political rights, would enable it to play a far more dynamic and effective role.
Following the discussion, the Commission decided to consider the views expressed and to draft recommendations.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Canada, India, Malaysia, Egypt, Syria, Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Indonesia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nigeria, Turkey, Tunisia, Pakistan, Iraq and Algeria.
The Secretary-General’s report on assessing the Commission’s communications procedure is contained in document CN.6/2002/12. For further background see Press Release WOM/1321 of 1 March.
The Commission will meet again at 3 p.m. today to consider its follow-up to Economic and Social Council resolutions and decisions.
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