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United Nations
Division for the Advancement of Women


55th Session of the General Assembly

Items 107 and 108



29 September 2000
Briefing for Delegations by Ms Yakin Ertürk, Director, DAW


The following reports are before the Third Committee of the General Assembly:

Item 107: Advancement of Women

Item 108: Implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the special of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century

Item 107:

I shall start with two of the reports before this session of the Assembly that relate to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Report on the Status of the Convention (A/55/308), submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 54/137, provides information on the accessions to and ratifications of the Convention, as well as reservations which may have been entered by States parties, objections to and withdrawal or modification of reservations. The report also provides information on the Optional Protocol and progress with regard to the acceptance of the amendment to article 20.1 of the Convention relating to the meeting time of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination.

Information on the receipt of States parties’ reports by the Secretary-General and the number of outstanding reports, and strategies which are being implemented by the Committee to address this issue is provided. The Committee’s efforts to streamline the work of the pre-session working group is also included, as are the Committee’s long-term programme of work with respect to general recommendations and its completion of its revised rules of procedure. The report also contains information on efforts by Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women and the Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women to encourage universal ratification of the Convention, the Optional Protocol and acceptance of the amendment to article 20.1, technical assistance provided by the Division to States parties and efforts to make the Convention, the Optional Protocol and the work of the Committee widely known. As the report was completed several months ago, it does not contain the latest information with respect to the Optional Protocol, which has now been ratified by the required 10 (11 to be exact) States parties and will enter into force on 22 December 2000. The current status of the Optional Protocol will be circulated to delegations.

Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on its 22nd and 23rd sessions. With the ratification of Saudi Arabia on 7 September 2000, 166 States are now party to the Convention. During 2000, the Committee has considered the reports of 15 States parties to the Convention, thereby continuing to make steady progress in reducing the number of reports awaiting review. The Committee also adopted a number of decisions aimed at assisting States parties in meeting their reporting obligations and streamlining the Committee’s work. Decision 23/I on overdue reports required under article 18 of the Convention deserves special attention. By this decision, the Committee decided on an exceptional basis and as a temporary measure in order to address the backlog of reports awaiting consideration and encourage States parties to fulfil their reporting obligations within article 18 of the Convention to invite States parties with overdue reports to combine these outstanding reports in a single document. During 2000, the Committee adopted its revised rules of procedure as to substance, but subject to editing and adoption in final form at the 24th session in January 2001. Taking account of its role in monitoring the implementation of the Platform for Action, the Committee also adopted a statement on the legal framework for the implementation of the Platform and the links between the Convention and the Platform which formed part of its contribution to the special session on Beijing+5.

The report on trafficking in women and girls (A/55/322). This report was prepared in accordance with General Assembly resolution 53/116 of 9 December 1998. It is based on information received from Member States, the UN system and other intergovernmental organizations and other information available to the Secretariat, including that in the replies by Member States to the questionnaire on implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

The report notes that the issue of trafficking in women and girls has become one of the subjects of priority attention within the United Nations system, as well as regionally and nationally. It has been the subject of a large number of governmental and non-governmental organization consultations, including a regional consultation of ten ASEAN countries under the auspices of the Asian Regional Initiative against Trafficking in Women and Girls. Trafficking has also been the subject of several important reports and monographs.

The report describes measures at the national level to address trafficking, which have included education campaigns directed at potential victims, the establishment of national committees, task forces or plans of action and the introduction of training for front-line agencies. Protective measures, including repatriation and airport assistance have also been introduced. Several States have amended their immigration legislation to grant victims of trafficking the possibility of limited residence permits for humanitarian reasons and so that they could be available as witnesses in prosecutions of traffickers, as well as in civil claims against them. National action has also included the establishment of reception homes and shelters for trafficking victims and the introduction of penal laws directed at traffickers.

The actions of bodies of the United Nations, including the special session of the General Assembly on Beijing+5, the Tenth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, the Commissions on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights are summarized in the report, and attention is drawn to the progress that has been made in the elaboration of the Convention against Transnational Crime and its three additional protocols, two of which are of particular relevance in this context. The work of treaty bodies and other human rights mechanisms and the activities of United Nations regional commissions, specialized agencies and other entities in this regard are highlighted. Particular mention should be made of the adoption of the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No 182) which specifically addresses trafficking in children and calls for measures to take account of the special situation of girls. The report describes activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the area of trafficking, within the context of the identification of the High Commissioner of trafficking as a priority issue. Activities of other international bodies, including the International Organization of Migration, the European Union, Council of Europe, the Organization of American States and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe are also highlighted.

The report makes several recommendations with regard to measures, including legislation and penalties to discourage traffickers, and to protect and assist victims. It stresses the importance of data and information collection on trafficking patterns and strategies to address this activity. A specific recommendation for the compilation and dissemination of good practices in interventions and strategies by the ACC Inter-Agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality is also made.

The report on follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women (A/55/293). This report, also known as the "rolling report", is in response to General Assembly resolution 53/120 of 9 December 1998. Delegations will recall, three complementary reports are prepared in the course of the year on Beijing follow-up and presented on a rolling basis to the Commission on the Status of Women, the Economic and Social Council and to the General Assembly.

Part II of the present report focuses on results of the ECOSOC coordination segment of its susbstantive session of 2000 in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and gender mainstreaming. The Council, at its coordination segment of 2000, had as a cross-sectoral theme: Assessment of the progress made within the UN system, through the conference reviews, in the promotion of an integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to major UN conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields. In its agreed conclusions (E/2000/2), the Council reiterated that the relevant functional commissions and other intergovernmental bodies should focus, at an early stage, on identifying the possible agenda and scope of the review of the conference for which they have primary responsibility.

In its resolution E/2000/26 of 26 July 2000, the Council reaffirmed the commitments and recommendations contained in its 1999 ministerial communiqué on the role of employment and work in poverty eradication: empowerment and advancement of women, and welcomed the outcome documents of the twenty-third and twenty-fourth special sessions of the General Assembly. It reiterated the call that the relevant organizations of the United Nations system and the international community take consistent, coherent, coordinated and joint actions in support of national efforts to eradicate poverty, with particular attention to employment creation and work and the empowerment and advancement of women. The Council also encouraged States that had not yet ratified or acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to do so as soon as possible, and all States parties to fulfil their obligations under the Convention; and further invited States parties to the Convention to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the Optional Protocol.

Part III of the report gives an overview of activities undertaken by the United Nations entities towards the full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Activities of UNIFEM are not reflected in the rolling report, which is before the General Assembly as a separate report (A/55/271). The present report, while providing an overview of activities of the individual entities within the UN, also notes that the UN System has continued to develop policies and programmes within the gender mainstreaming framework. Consistent efforts have been made throughout the United Nations to incorporate a gender perspective into substantive and operational work; preparation of medium-term plans and programme budgets; and procedures for staff appointment and promotion as well as other personnel related practices. Gender equality continues to be an overarching goal of some entities in carrying out their individual mandates.

This section of the report also focuses on the means of implementation , including institutional, human and financial requirements. The report notes that UN entities continue to show their commitment to gender mainstreaming through the establishment of gender focal points; the increase of technical and financial resources at the national, international, regional and sub-regional levels to accelerate the attainment of gender equality; the increase of women professional staff members at decision-making levels; and the commitment to achieving the goal of 50 per cent gender balance set by the UN.

The report concludes that the main priority still remains to be the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in programmes and policies, and need to enhance partnerships among governments, the UN system, other intergovernmental organizations and NGOs towards this end.

Item 108

The report on the special session of the General Assembly (A/55/341) has been prepared in response to the GA resolution 54/141 of 17 December 1999. It provides an overview of the provisions and recommendations for action contained in the Political Declaration and the Outcome Document adopted by the General Assembly at the special session of the General Assembly in June 2000.

The report consists of 3 sections. The introduction provides the background and the mandate. Section two focuses on areas where the Platform for Action has been strengthened and reinforced and on implementation measures at the national and international level to be taken by various actors. The report, maintains that the Political Declaration and the Outcome Document compliment the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action and identify global trends that impact on the full implementation of the 12 critical areas of concern such as globalization, HIV-AIDS, ICT’s, population dynamics, such as ageing and migration, among others. While the Outcome Document calls for new actions to overcome the obstacles and meet the new challenges that have immediate impact on each critical area of the Platform, it also calls attention to problems such as trafficking in women and girls that have become particularly acute under global changes.

The Outcome Document also strongly reaffirms implementation strategies such as time bound targets, gender sensitive budgeting, gender mainstreaming, etc…

The report reflects on the implications of the Outcome Document for the various actors, including governments, civil society and the UN System. Particularly significant at this juncture is the focus on the Commission on the Status of Women which is the principle intergovernmental body responsible for the promotion and achievement of gender equality. The Commission will be drawing up its new work programme at its 45th Session in March 2001. The preparations in this regard provide an opportunity for reviewing and improving its working methods. The report calls on the General Assembly to invite the ECOSOC to review and strengthen the mandate of the Commission, so as to enable it to continue to play a central role, within the UN system, in monitoring and advancing the implementation of the Platform for Action and the Outcome Document, and in assisting the Council therein.

The Outcome Document strongly endorsed the need for human rights activities from a gender perspective and in this regard recognizes the role of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. With the Optional Protocol of the Convention going into force on 22 December 2000, the Division for the Advancement of Women will be called on to assume new responsibilities to effectively support the work of the Committee. In this connection, the report draws attention to the need to ensure that the Division is provided with the necessary human and financial resources.

The report also focuses on the strong emphasis contained in the Outcome Document on gender mainstreaming, support for capacity building of research institutes, national machineries, NGOs and micro-credit institutions which clearly require the strengthening of all gender focal points within the UN, the Office of the Special Adviser and in particular the three entities specifically established to promote the advancement of women, namely: INSTRAW, UNIFEM and DAW.

The attention of the General Assembly is drawn to the critical role attributed by the Outcome Document to non-governmental organizations in the implementation of the Platform, and the General Assembly is called on to give consideration to means of strengthening ways to enhance partnerships with NGOs.

Section three of the report is devoted to recommendations for action by the General Assembly in light of the outcome of the special session. These recommendations highlight the need for political commitment, allocation of sufficient resources for programmes and projects, strengthening of national and international institutions instrumental in the implementation of the objectives set forth at Beijing and Beijing+5.