by Ms. Angela E.V. King
Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the
Advancement of Women
Friday, 21 June 2002
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to the Committee as it closes its twenty-seventh session.
Let me first congratulate you on your achievements this session. You have reviewed the reports of seven States parties – those of Belgium, Denmark, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Tunisia, Ukraine and Zambia. I am aware of the amount of work this has been, with Committee members being required to read many pages of reports, responses to lists of issues, questions and background material submitted by United Nations entities and non-governmental organizations. I believe that the vibrant and constructive dialogue that has developed between the members and the Government representatives provides a framework for better implementation of the Convention at the domestic level not only in the States reviewed, but the balance of the 169 parties to the Convention.
In addition to the task of report consideration, you have also made significant improvements to your working methods. The informal seminar held in Lund, at the Raoull Wallenberg Institute, and funded generously by the Swedish Government, in April 2002 provided the Committee with an opportunity to reflect on its working methods in depth. Modifications to working methods implemented during this session on the basis of decisions made in Lund have allowed the Committee to make best use of the limited time in sessions. A strategy to encourage States with overdue reports to submit those reports has also been devised, and new reporting guidelines for States parties adopted. I am pleased that these guidelines take on the suggestion of the ACABQ that the Committee should encourage States parties to submit more succinct reports.
As a result of discussions in Lund, you have also modified the format for concluding comments in order to make them a more effective tool in the quest to achieve comprehensive domestic implementation of the Convention.
At the Lund seminar, the Committee decided to convene an informal meeting of States parties. This meeting, which took place last Monday afternoon, was, for me, a highlight of the session. Members will be gratified to learn that the representatives of 86 States parties attended that meeting, including three Ambassadors – or 50.8 per cent of the 169 parties to the Convention. I believe that and the vibrant dialogue that took place between representatives of States parties and the Committee testifies to the importance of the Convention and the Committee’s work and the greater visibility it has attracted. Several States, which are not party to the Convention, have expressed interest in the informal meeting, and I am glad to learn that the Committee intends to convene an informal meeting with non-States parties during its twenty-eighth session in January 2003.
The discussions in Lund and during this session on working methods have also provided those Committee members who will attend the first inter-committee meeting on working methods, which will take place next week in Geneva with a solid basis for their work. I look forward to the results of the inter-committee meeting and particularly CEDAW members’ reflections on the event.
During this session, the Committee has made several decisions on the report of the Optional Protocol Working Group with respect to cooperation between the Division and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in regard to potential communications, processing of communications and outreach and research. The Committee will be aware that communications under international procedures typically begin with a trickle, which ultimately develops into a flood. I am confident that many communications will be received as soon as the typical time needed for exhaustion of domestic remedies has elapsed, so it is critical that the Working Group has laid the groundwork for its work. My Office and the Division will continue to ensure that the best possible foundations for the work under the Optional Protocol are laid. We will continue to improve the dedicated electronic database for communications, and devise outreach activities relating to the Convention.
Madam Chairperson, experts.
It is a little over a month until the exceptional session of the Committee will be convened. I am aware of the enormous efforts that members of the Committee have made during this year, and that the exceptional session will be a further burden. I would like to express my gratitude to you for deciding to convene this session. It will clear the backlog of reports awaiting review and allow the Committee to address the challenges facing States parties with regard to reporting.
The Division for the Advancement of Women, Women’s Rights Section, as well as my Office are always looking for new ways to assist the Committee as it strives to enhance its work. We would be grateful for any reflections that you might have on this session, so that future sessions can be even more successful.
Four members of the Committee will remain to prepare the lists of issues and questions to be sent to those States parties presenting periodic reports at the twenty-eighth session in January 2003. I look forward to seeing those members during next week, but for those of you who are leaving after this session, I wish you a pleasant journey to your countries, and look forward to seeing you in August.