Ms. Angela E.V. King
Assistant Secretary-General and
CEDAW 28th session
New York, 31 January 2003
Distinguished members of the Committee,
Representatives of the UN system and agencies,
I am very pleased to have another opportunity to speak to the distinguished members of the Committee – now that the 28th session comes to an end.
I would like to congratulate the new Chairperson, Ms. Feride Acar, and the new Bureau members, Ms. María Yolanda Ferrer Gómez, Ms. Christine Kapalata, Ms. Victoria Popescu Sandru and Ms. Heisoo Shin for having guided us all so diligently during the past three weeks. I would also like to say how pleased I am that the newly elected members have so easily integrated into the Committee membership. Their knowledge and expertise, combined with the expertise and experience of their longer-serving colleagues, has indeed resulted in a most productive session and in many invigorating discussions.
Among the achievements of this session are that you managed to consider reports from a diverse group of eight States Parties to the Convention – Albania, Canada, El Salvador, Kenya, Luxembourg, Norway, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Switzerland. While conditions in those States differ greatly, there were a number of cross-cutting concerns that the Committee identified. For example, the persistence of stereotypical attitudes towards the gender roles of women and men; violence against women, including domestic violence; trafficking in women and girls; and the under-representation of women at the highest levels of decision-making. I am aware of the amount of work this has been for all of you, digesting hundreds of pages of reports and background materials submitted by United Nations partners and non-governmental organizations. Contributions from national non-governmental and grass roots organizations have slowly, but steadily, increased. During this session, the Committee has taken decisions that, I am confident, will facilitate access of those organizations to the Committee.
Madam Chairperson, distinguished experts,
The informal meeting last Tuesday, with States that are not yet parties to the Convention, provided the Committee, I believe, with an excellent opportunity to establish direct and personal contacts with representatives of those States and to have an initial exchange of views with them. I am very pleased and encouraged by indications that some of those States may ratify the Convention in the near future. My Office and the Division for the Advancement of Women will follow up with them in our efforts to encourage universal ratification of the Convention. I am also pleased to learn of the decision of the Committee to continue such direct contacts – namely, to convene an informal meeting during its 29th session, with States whose reports have been overdue for more than five years. Such a meeting is a welcome step toward enhancing progress in the Convention’s implementation and in finding ways to encourage the reporting process at the national level.
The discussions with the Chairperson of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee, with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, and with officials from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provided useful opportunities for closer contacts with other treaty bodies and the special procedures mechanisms. This is very much in line with the calls by the Secretary-General in his reform proposals, for increased cooperation among treaty bodies and greater coherence of the human rights treaty system. The Secretary-General’s reform proposals are important and the ensuing consultation process vital. You can be assured that my Office and the Division for the Advancement of Women will use all efforts to facilitate the involvement of the Committee in all stages of that process.
Madam Chairperson, distinguished experts,
I would like to assure the members of the Working Group on Communications under the Optional Protocol that my Office and the Division will continue to ensure that the best possible foundations for your work on individual complaints under the Optional Protocol are laid. To that end, the Division will provide you at the next session with the necessary background papers.
I thank you all again for your hard work and wish you a safe return to your countries or your work here in New York. Four of you will start next week with the preparations for the 29th session that will commence on 30 June. I will still have an opportunity to say good-bye to those at a later stage.