Twenty-third Session of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

12 June 2000


Ms. Angela E.V. King
Assistant Secretary-General
Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women

Madame Chairperson, distinguished experts, representatives of specialized agencies and other parts of the United Nations system, colleagues and friends

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the twenty-third session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. This session is taking place immediately after a very upbeat and positive closing of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly on Beijing+5 which reviewed the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and decided on further actions and initiatives for its implementation. Here 178 Member States, 16 Observers, 5 NGOs in Plenary gave their views. In all over 2,300 delegates not including mission staff and 2,000 plus NGO representatives from 1,061 organizations participated. I am pleased to report that despite dire predictions there was absolutely no rollback of the Platform and many significant new areas were adopted.

I am aware that you, Madame Chairperson, and more than half of the experts (approximately 14) attended the special session, and will be conscious that in their interventions during the session’s general debate a large majority of Member States pledged their recommitment to the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as its implementation. They expressed their firm intention to ratify or accede to its option protocol. We thank you for your active participation and support and I wish to mention in particular those who took part in panels and in some of the 150 or so exciting events taking place around the session.

The outcome document adopted by the session on Saturday, 10 June at 7:20 p.m. identifies the ratification of the Convention by 165 countries, the promotion of its full implementation and the adoption of the optional protocol as amongst the achievements in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. At the same time, the fact that the goal of the universal ratification of the Convention by the year 2000 established in the Platform has not been achieved, the persistence of a large number of reservations to the Convention, and that many countries have not yet implemented fully the provisions of the Convention, are cited as obstacles to the Platform’s implementation.

Amongst the 199 actions and initiatives to overcome obstacles in, and achieve the full and accelerated implementation of the Platform agreed by Member States, are ratification of the Convention, limitation and removal of reservations and acceptance of the optional protocol. The United Nations system, international and regional organizations also, are required to assist States parties to build capacity for the implementation of the Convention.

Many other actions agreed aim at creating a gender-sensitive legal and policy environment, including through reviewing legislation with a view to remove discriminatory provisions preferably by the year 2005, and eliminating legislative gaps that leave women and girls without protection of their rights and without effective recourse against gender-based discrimination. Definite gains have been made in areas such as recommendations for the ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, more extensive criminalization of violence against women particularly domestic violence including crimes of honour, crimes of passion and trafficking; globalization; health and reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS and many other areas.


Madame Chairperson, distinguished experts, ladies and gentlemen,

During the next weeks, women around the world will be analysing the results of the special session on Beijing+5. However, even first impressions of the document testify to the influence of the Convention and the work of this Committee on the development of the international policy framework for women’s advancement. As this Committee pointed out in its report to the preparatory committee of the special session in 1999, as well as in its statement adopted at its twenty-second session in January this year, the Convention forms the legal basis of that policy framework. In my view, it is most fitting that today – only 36 hours after the closure of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly on Beijing+5 – the 23rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, is beginning its work. I welcome you all and wish you well in that work and am confident that the decisions you make during this session will serve to strengthen the linkages between the legal framework for women’s advancement constituted by the Convention and its protocol, and the policy framework to that end in the Platform for Action and the results of the special session.

On a note of happy expectation, I believe that one and possibly two Member States will deposit instruments of ratification.

Madame Chairperson, distinguished experts,

I wish you well in your deliberations, pledging to you my personal support in the next three weeks. I am sure that the Director of the Division, Ms. Yakin Ertürk, and her staff, and the staff of all the relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, will do their utmost during this period to assist the Committee to make the session a successful and productive one. I look forward to meeting with you all during the session informally and wish you a pleasant stay in New York. May the positive energy of the special session flow over and through your work.

Thank you.


[ Madame Chairperson, Team experts

May I say that the last few weeks has been for the Division for the Advancement of Women, its Director and staff - the Secretariat, one of unremitting, hard work, challenges of being creative and responsive to many delegates and NGOs.

Together with Member States and NGOs, the Secretariat team was successful, but at great cost it was very stressful.

I therefore plead for understanding and patience on your part if our staff are less robust and energetic in their work. The team led by Jane Connor, including Christina Brautigam and others who serve you here, were almost constantly at work during long night hours as they worked on Working Group II on future actions, the majority and most crucial of the document.

Thank you.]