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Economic and Social Council
Substantive session for 1997
Coordination Segment
30 June - 25 July 1997
Item 3 of the provisional agenda


Mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system

Report of the Secretary-General


This report responds to Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/310 which decided to devote the coordination segment in 1997 to mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system. It addresses issues of mainstreaming by intergovernmental bodies and the UN system and proposes recommendations for consideration by the Council.

I. Introduction
II. Mainstreaming a gender perspective at the intergovernmental level
A. The General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies
B. ECOSOC and its functional commissions
C. Regional commissions
III. Mainstreaming a gender perspective in the work of the United Nations system
A. Institutional requirements
B. Experience and lessons learned in mainstreaming gender
C. Integrated follow up to UN global conferences
D. Accountability for mainstreaming through the use of performance indicators, evaluation of progress in mainstreaming, and impact analysis


  1. The present report is in response to Economic and Social Council decision 1996/310, by which the Council decided that the coordination segment of its substantive session of 1997 should be devoted to consideration of mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system. The General Assembly, in its resolution 51/69, welcomed this decision of the Council, and requested the Secretary-General to present action-oriented recommendations to the Council on means to enhance system-wide coordination on gender issues and to mainstream a gender perspective throughout the United Nations system.

  2. The Commission on the Status of Women, at its forty-first session, adopted a resolution on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system (L.14). The Commission inter alia encouraged the Council at its coordination segment to develop specific recommendations to mainstream a gender perspective into all United Nations system activities and urged the Council to specifically integrate a gender perspective into its deliberations on economic and social issues, including the high-level segment.

  3. The present report provides an overview and makes recommendations relating to mainstreaming a gender perspective in a coordinated manner at the intergovernmental level. It points to the need to bring a gender perspective not only into socio-economic areas and activities falling within the responsibility of the Council and its subsidiary bodies, but also into areas where gender issues have not, or have less frequently, been considered. The report also briefly describes efforts at mainstreaming by the Secretariat and the funds, programmes, and specialized agencies of the UN system. Steps to ensure that the impact of gender as a key variable is integral to research, planning and policy-making, and institutional development are proposed building on initial proposals before the General Assembly at its fifty-first session, [1] and taking into account reports on "The advancement of women through and in the programmes of the United Nations system: what happens after the Fourth World Conference on Women?" prepared by the JIU and on the Report of the Secretary General on "Technical assistance and women: from mainstreaming towards institutional accountability" considered by the CSW in 1995. [2]

  4. The present report was prepared with the contribution of many Departments, funds, programmes, specialized agencies and other bodies of the UN system. Extensive discussions were held in the Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality drawing upon papers prepared by the JCGP Gender in Development Subgroup.


  1. Discussion of women's concerns in the United Nations intergovernmental bodies has traditionally been largely confined to the Commission on the Status of Women, the Economic and Social Council under the item "Advancement of women", and the Third, and periodically, the Second Committee of the General Assembly. Since the Fourth World Conference on Women, other intergovernmental bodies have also sought to implement relevant aspects of the Platform for Action and to mainstream gender [3] in their areas of responsibility. The report makes reference to some of these efforts and to approaches to improving coordination.

    A. The General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies

  2. In addition to the discussions in the Third Committee on women and gender issues, the Second Committee, on a biennial basis, considers gender when discussing economic issues (See for example, resolution 50/104). The Secretary-General's report in response to resolution 50/104 will apply a gender methodology to mainstreaming a gender perspective. The Committee has taken a gender sensitive approach in its examination of several other topics, for example its mid-decade review of progress in implementing the goals of the World Summit for Children (resolution 51/186).

  3. The importance of addressing gender issues in formulating economic and overall development policies grew out of extensive work which was being undertaken with regard to women in development, and the recognition of the limitations of a gender neutral approach for achieving socio-economic progress. Notably much of the practical experience with regard to gender mainstreaming in the UN system has been gleaned from operational activities, yet the insights gained are not generally incorporated into the Second Committee's review of operational activities for development. The most recent resolution on the Triennial Policy Review of Operational activities (resolution 50/120) confined its reference to appointment of women to senior level posts. [4]

  4. The Assembly has sometimes recognized gender as a factor to be taken into account in humanitarian affairs. At its fifty-first session, the Third Committee denounced cases of violations of the human rights of women, encouraged the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees to strengthen its efforts for the protection of women having a well-founded fear of persecution, called upon States to ensure that women in such situations were recognized as refugees and adopted a gender sensitive approach.[5] However, a systematic consideration of gender factors in the framework of humanitarian assistance has yet to occur.

  5. In its examination of the United Nations' medium-term plan for the period 1998-2001, the Committee for Programme Coordination decided that mainstreaming a gender perspective should be reflected in the individual programmes of the medium-term plan, and it emphasized the responsibility of programme managers for progress in gender mainstreaming.[6] The Committee also stressed the necessity for mainstreaming a gender perspective in the planning and programming of all United Nations agencies.

  6. The Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly at its fifty-first session (A/51/322) noted that the Draft Code of Crimes against Peace and Security of Mankind prepared by the International Law Commission addressed situations of particular concern to women in its definition of crimes, but attention to gender in the International Law Commission and other main committees and subsidiary bodies of the General Assembly remains limited and at best, confined to women-specific concerns. Gender as a factor has not been considered, for example, in the political and security field or in the work of the First Committee or the Special Committee on Peacekeeping.

    Recommendations: The General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies

    • The Council might wish to encourage the Assembly to direct all its main committees and subsidiary bodies to take gender factors into consideration in their work. In particular, a gender perspective should be applied in the Second Committee's Triennial Policy Review of Operational Activities for Development of the UN system, and in the Committee's consideration of macro-economic questions. The Assembly might also be encouraged to assess systematically gender factors in its consideration of humanitarian assistance, both generally, and in particular situations.

    • The CPC should ensure during its upcoming review of the programme budget 1998-1999, that all programmes visibly mainstream a gender perspective, including through the identification of activities that are designed to incorporate a gender analysis.

    • The Secretariat should be encouraged when preparing reports relating to economic, humanitarian, peacekeeping and other areas, to enhance its efforts to define issues and approaches in a gender sensitive manner, drawing on expertise that exists within and outside the UN system, so as to provide the General Assembly and its subsidiaries with an analytical basis for gender-responsive policy formulation.

    • The Council should encourage the Commission on the Status of Women to play a catalytic role and draw the attention of bodies dealing with legal matters, and political and security issues, such as in the area of peacekeeping, to the impact of gender factors on peace, conflict resolution, and related areas. The consideration by the Commission in 1998 of the critical areas of concern on women in armed conflict, violence against women, human rights of women and the girl child could provide specific guidance in that regard.

    B. ECOSOC and its functional commissions

  7. Reports of the Secretary-General to the Council and the General Assembly in 1996, and to the Commission on the Status of Women in 1997, indicated that a number of the Council's functional commissions have taken steps to follow-up the Fourth World Conference on Women. The results of the most recent sessions of the functional commissions with regard to gender are summarized in the Secretary-General's report on follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women (E/1997/...).

  8. The role of the Commission on the Status of Women with regard to women's and gender issues, and in mainstreaming a gender perspective in the three-tiered intergovernmental mechanism in the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, as well as its central role in monitoring the implementation of the Platform for Action and in advising the ECOSOC thereon, were spelt out in General Assembly resolution 50/203. The Council established the framework for the functioning of the Commission, including its terms of reference, work programme and working methods (res. 1996/6). The Council decided, in particular, that the Commission on the Status of Women should have a catalytic role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in policies and programmes.

  9. The GA has specifically invited all functional commissions of ECOSOC to take due account of gender aspects in their respective work (resolution 50/203). In its 1996 Agreed Conclusions on poverty eradication, the Council provided further incentive for mainstreaming gender in the consideration of core issues within the commissions' mandates, when it invited its functional commissions as a follow up to Beijing to consider reviewing the gender implications of policies falling within their competence.

  10. An harmonized approach to the follow up to Beijing and related agreements from other Conferences would allow the commissions to reinforce and complement each other's work by approaching issues of common interest from different dimensions, rather than by duplicating recommendations. Examination of an issue and its policy implications from a gender perspective within one area should help to inform the work of other commissions. For example, the Commission on Sustainable Development had available the agreed conclusions of the CSW on women and environment to draw on in its preparation for the Five Year Review of Agenda 21. Similarly, the CSW and the Commission on Social Development could harmonize efforts on older women in connexion with the International Year of Older Persons.

  11. The extent to which gender has been taken up in the work of the commissions may be inferred from references to gender in the outcome of the commissions' work (resolutions, agreed conclusions), as well as from the reports before them and the discussions held thereon. There has been an increase in 'women-specific' resolutions calling for steps to address the specific situation of women in certain areas. Most Commissions have also recognized that where the situation of women and men differ, that women could experience the effects of policies and programmes differently, and that, consequently, gender needs to be factored into the analysis of issues and situations, and into the design of policies. This has led to the adoption of 'mainstreaming resolutions'. Several Commissions have called for mainstreaming a gender perspective in cross-cutting areas of recent international conferences, but only a few have made technical and focussed proposals regarding the type of policy changes needed in their respective core areas to ensure positive outcomes for women.

  12. To facilitate mainstreaming, the Secretary General in preparing reports for the functional commissions and the regional commissions, will consistently apply a gender perspective in analysis of issues, and in the preparation of policy options, in accordance with the steps described in document A/51/322, and with the measures proposed in the Council's Agreed Conclusions 1996/1 on Poverty Eradication.

  13. Specific issues of concern to women are sometimes addressed by more than one commission, as well as by the Third Committee of the General Assembly. Examples include the issue of violence against women (CSW, CCPCJ, CHR); the situation of the girl child (CSW, Commission on Human Rights(CHR), Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, CCPCJ); traffic in women and girls (CHR, CSW and CCPCJ); violence against women migrant workers (CSW, CHR). There has been some dialogue between the commissions dealing with these issues, but there is sometimes duplication of measures recommended.

  14. A number of Commissions have called for mainstreaming a gender perspective in poverty eradication strategies (Commissions for Social Development and for Sustainable Development); in policies and programmes related to employment (Commission for Social Development); and in sustainable development policies (Commission for Sustainable Development). The Commission on Human Rights has called for mainstreaming a gender perspective in the work of the United Nations in the area of human rights. The Commission on Human Settlements (CHS) has called for measures to develop gender sensitive shelter strategies.

  15. The Commission for Population and Development decided that gender issues should be emphasized in its review of international migration in 1997 and health and mortality in 1998. At its 1997 session, a thorough analysis of gender aspects of international migration and development was before it in the report on World Population Monitoring. The Commission was also informed of the findings of a Population Division study on sex differentials in childhood mortality, and the biological, social and economic mechanisms that lead to excess female mortality in childhood. Its recommendation on international migration and development and its decision on international migration referred to the Beijing Platform for Action.[7]

  16. Some Commissions have been focussing on gender even prior to the Fourth World Conference on Women. In 1995, for example, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development created an advisory board on gender issues to facilitate its future deliberations and follow-up activities.

  17. In addition, the Statistical Commission has consistently encouraged the development of statistics and indicators on women, giving special attention to the informal sector and women's contribution to development. The Commission has also encouraged work on economic accounts on women's contribution to production to supplement the System of National Accounts (1989 report, para 139), and recommended the preparation of a draft classification for time use activities.

  18. The Commission on Human Rights has dealt with a number of aspects concerning the human rights of women covered by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action.[8]

  19. Broadly, commissions have stressed that gender sensitive analysis be an integral part of the development and monitoring of policies and programmes. They have called for enhancing the participation of women in the design of policies and programmes within their mandate, and empowering women, in particular through access to productive resources, including education and training. The Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women has informed the Chairpersons of other functional commissions, including the Commissions on Sustainable Development and on Human Rights, of actions taken by the Commission on the Status of Women with a view to facilitating mainstreaming and coordination.

  20. It remains for these bodies to move beyond the adoption of resolutions calling for gender mainstreaming and 'women-specific' resolutions to the systematic reflection of gender in the analysis of all areas.

  21. ECOSOC decided (resolution 1996/16) that it would continue to ensure the harmonization and coordination of the multiyear work programmes of relevant functional commissions by promoting a clear division of labour and providing clear policy guidance (For a tabular breakdown of the multiyear programmes see document E/1997/ on integrated follow-up to Conferences).

  22. A coordinated work programme of the functional commissions should be differentiated from mainstreaming a gender perspective in the work of all functional commissions. Coordinated work programmes are intended to avoid duplication and overlap and to ensure that commissions utilize their comparative advantage with regard to the substance of an issue. Mainstreaming constitutes a conceptual approach to an issue and predicates that a gender perspective be applied by each commission to all issues in its coordinated work programme. The 1996 Agreed Conclusions of the Council on Poverty Eradication provide suggestions on mainstreaming gender in relation to that cross-cutting theme. A report on the implementation of the agreed conclusions, including on steps taken by the Commission on the Status of Women, is before the Council.

    Recommendations: ECOSOC and its functional commissions

    • All functional commissions should adopt an explicit decision on mainstreaming a gender perspective in their work and where appropriate, indicate the resources their secretariats might require and the modalities to carry out such work. Based on the Secretary- General's annual report on follow-up to the FWCW and on mainstreaming a gender perspective, the Council should monitor annually how its functional commissions and the regional commissions apply a gender analysis to issues under consideration, including in the integrated follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and other global UN conferences.

    • The CSW may wish to use its standing agenda item on emerging issues and trends to provide input or suggestions to other functional commissions or the Council in areas where they might require support and guidance on how to introduce a gender perspective into their work. Interaction between the chairpersons of functional commissions and the chairperson of CSW in ensuring that a gender perspective is reflected in all sectoral areas should be encouraged.

    • In examining how its recommendations regarding gender mainstreaming in poverty eradication are being implemented by the UN system and by intergovernmental machinery, the Council may wish to establish a model for future monitoring of mainstreaming efforts.

    • The Council may advise functional commissions to make maximum use of the work of CSW when monitoring implementation of gender-related recommendations of conference(s) falling within their own mandate, and in accordance with their multi-year work programmes. In particular, the Commission's resolutions and agreed conclusions on the critical areas of concern should be used by other functional commissions when dealing with related matters.

    • The CSW should make maximum use of the work of other functional commissions. For example, in 1998, when examining the human rights themes in the Platform for Action, the work of the Commission on Human Rights should be taken into account as an input into the work of the CSW. In 1999, the CSW should draw upon the work of the Commission on Population and Development when examining the critical area of concern of women and health.

    • The work of the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Human Rights in the area of women's human rights should be taken into account by other commissions when dealing with rights- or gender-related matters.

    • The Council should ensure that in the review and appraisal processes planned for global conferences (human rights in 1998, population and development in 1999, social development and women in 2000, and shelter in 2001), effective use is made of gender analysis to identify differential impacts of policies and programmes on women and men and it indicate future action to achieve greater equality for women.

    C. Regional commissions

  23. Gender sensitivity is apparent in aspects of the work of governing bodies of regional commissions and in particular in ESCAP's 1996 conclusions on poverty eradication. The resolution adopted by the Economic Commission for Africa on strengthening women's contribution to the second African Industrial Decade represents a significant effort in mainstreaming gender. ECE, at its session in 1997, adopted a plan of action and in-depth reform of its programme and methods of work, and identified the mainstreaming of a gender perspective as a cross-sectoral concern which should permeate all its areas of work. At ECLAC, the main instrument for mainstreaming is the regional programme of action, which was endorsed by a resolution of the Commission at its last session as a complement to the medium-term plan for the period 1996-2001. ESCWA adopted at its nineteenth session (May 1997) a Regional Integrated Programme of Action for follow-up to global conferences with gender mainstreaming occupying a central role.

    Recommendations: Regional commissions

    • Gender should be taken into account more systematically by the governing bodies of regional commissions and their subsidiary bodies. The regional commissions should act as catalysts for exchanging experiences and best practices among the UN and non-UN organizations active on gender mainstreaming at the regional level. In this regard, the Council might wish to review the capacity of the regional commissions to strengthen gender mainstreaming in their activities and to promote regional cooperation in this respect.


  24. This section of the report examines elements that should be consistently in place within the organizations and entities of the system to ensure that gender considerations become an integral part of all work processes of staff and management. Section A examines institutional requirements to ensure responsibility for mainstreaming moves beyond gender specialists to institutions; section B reviews lessons learned in gender mainstreaming; Section C discusses the need for gender mainstreaming in the integrated follow-up to all UN conferences; and section D puts forward suggestions to strengthen accountability for mainstreaming.

    A. Institutional requirements

    1. Mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes and in planning and budgeting

        a. Policies and programmes

  1. The Secretary-General has stated a commitment to mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes of the United Nations system. The accountability of senior managers in this regard will be pursued vigorously and the four Executive Committees set up to facilitate concerted and coordinated management of the work of the Organization have been instructed to incorporate a gender perspective.[9]

  2. The Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women assists the Secretary-General to ensure the system-wide coordination of policy for implementing the Platform for Action, and for mainstreaming a gender perspective in all activities of the United Nations system. The Special Adviser chairs the Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality. She is a member of the Policy Coordination Group chaired by the Secretary-General, as well as of the four Executive Committees. Based on a process of two- way communication and cooperation, the Special Adviser supports and advises the Secretary General and senior managers in the UN system on gender issues within their respective areas of responsibility and promotes achievement of gender balance in the Secretariats of the system.

  3. The commitment of senior management, requiring clarity in regard to the concept of mainstreaming and the capacity to translate it into practice are essential ingredients for institutionalizing mainstreaming in policies and programmes, and for ensuring that gender issues are reflected at every stage of the programme process. Mainstreaming continues, however, to be perceived by many as a 'special interest issue' identified largely with the recruitment of female staff, rather than as an integrated approach to achieving policy or development goals. In some parts of the UN system, lack of clear intergovernmental mandates for gender mainstreaming constrains the secretariat from addressing gender concerns in policies and programme planning.

  4. The ACC Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality is mandated to prepare for consideration and adoption by the ACC, a mission statement for the United Nations system reflecting a coordinated position on the advancement and empowerment of women and on gender mainstreaming. The mandates and mission statements of a number of UN entities, such as UNDP, UNFPA, WFP and UNICEF, already state their commitment to achieving gender equality, the empowerment of women and the promotion of equal rights of women and girls and their full participation in all aspects of development.

  5. Further steps are required, however, to translate these policy statements from discretionary guidelines into practical tools and performance indicators for use by staff. Mainstreaming practice requires more than designing and implementing "add-on" projects for women. Currently, UN development entities which actively address gender issues in their work do so, in general, in a two-pronged approach: (a) mainstreaming gender considerations in priorities, policies and programmes, and (b) targeting women as participants and/or beneficiaries through women- and girl-specific programmes. The Secretary General will encourage members of the ACC to issue administrative instructions or take related actions to ensure the consistent implementation of gender sensitive policies in all departments and organizations of the system and by all levels of staff in all areas.

  6. To date, gender issues have been more effectively addressed at the project level than in policy and programme formulation. The major focus has been the adjustment of project designs to incorporate gender concerns, or to mitigate negative effects after the critical decisions have been made about priorities, resource allocation, and types of interventions. Gender analysis should be applied at all levels, including in planning, programming, budgeting, and evaluation and monitoring, should be established.

  7. The perception persists that certain technical areas or projects and abstract processes of policy and programme development are gender-neutral and therefore do not lend themselves to gender mainstreaming. Projects or processes that are "people-oriented" or emphasize a participatory approach and the human dimension are, on the other hand, more likely to be perceived as suitable for a gender approach.

  8. Mainstreaming and targeting are not mutually exclusive, but complementary strategies, with both having the achievement of gender-sensitive outcomes as their objective. Increasingly, women-specific projects are linked to mainstreaming efforts.

    b. Planning and budgeting

  1. Some of the entities of the UN system have made progress in visibly mainstreaming a gender perspective into their medium-term plans, programme planning or programme budgets, including, for example, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNFPA and WFP. ILO has identified the promotion of gender equality as one of three priority areas for its technical cooperation in its next biennium Programme and Budget (1998-1999). UNIDO includes the concept of gender mainstreaming in its Medium-Term Plan Framework (1998-2001) as a cross-sectoral aspect of its work, and UNESCO's medium-term strategy (1996-2001) includes gender mainstreaming as a transdisciplinary endeavour. FAO has mainstreamed the consideration of women's issues in the substantive work of the organization as a whole. The principal guiding framework for the development of WHO's tenth general programme of work (2002- 2007) is the renewed health-for-all strategy which places special emphasis on a gender perspective in health policy development. UNV's Strategy 2000 (1997-2000) refers to gender as a key area of concern.

  2. A number of entities target women through the addition of women-specific projects to existing programmes. For example, the UNCTAD Division on Investment, Technology and Enterprise Development emphasizes the promotion of women's participation and their entrepreneurship development. ILO is launching a programme on more and better jobs for women to improve the quantity and quality of employment for women.

  3. The institutionalization of gender policies and of mainstreaming throughout work programmes and sectoral areas is a pending task in many departments and entities of the UN system. ECLAC has developed a project with extrabudgetary funding which aims at the integration of gender analysis and planning in ECLAC's programmes and institutional processes. A series of workshops will demonstrate the relevance of gender in development projects and public policies in general and introduce methods for moving from 'women components' in some policies and projects to a mainstreaming approach.

  4. In the UN system resources are earmarked for women-specific activities, both in the normative/policy areas, as well as in operational areas. Operational resources are largely provided for catalytic areas of support, and are modest compared to core programme areas. Information about projects that respond to women, both in separate and integrated ways, and about funding directed towards women [10] remains poor, and there is no consistent United Nations system-wide standard for reporting outcomes.

  5. The second session of the Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality considered that resources for mainstreaming were essential at all levels, including at the regional/national level. It concluded that the quantification of resources benefitting women and men respectively as a result of mainstreaming was essential. Current budget codes in the UN system do not allow for an assessment of allocations disaggregated by sex, nor by beneficiaries. A disaggregation of resources is essential to assess and monitor whether women benefit from such resources in a way to accelerate the achievement of the goal of gender equality. It is also essential to monitor whether disadvantages women face in specific areas are being remedied. The Committee has decided to elaborate guidelines for budgeting processes and coding of budgets.

    Recommendations: Mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies
    and programmes and in planning and budgeting

    • All entities of the UN system, including departments of the UN Secretariat and other entities which have not yet done so, should develop gender mainstreaming policies for their areas of responsibility, based on the ACC system-wide mission statement. Such policies should be developed with the support of gender units/focal points, the DAW, and the Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality and report thereon to ECOSOC.

    • All entities/secretariats of the UN system should review the implications of a gender sensitive approach for their sector, based on the Platform for Action, the results of other recent UN conferences and summits and their own intergovernmental mandates, and adjust their policies and activities, including developing and implementing targeted, women- specific activities to achieve gender equality as provided in the Beijing Platform for Action.

    • The importance of a gender perspective should be reflected in the vision for the United Nations for the future and the need for gender units/focal points should be supported as part of the institutional structure of the organization to ensure that gender is given adequate consideration as a cross-sectoral concern in all programme priorities.

    • UN funds and programmes and specialized agencies should ensure that gender concerns are addressed when setting priorities, allocating resources and identifying types of interventions, not merely as an adjustment to project design after the critical decisions have been taken. They should further develop techniques for analysing target populations in their socio-economic contexts, and promote consultations and a participatory approach to policy and project design. Gender analysis should be included in programming for participatory development and good governance, human rights and conflict resolution.

    • The entities of the UN system should institutionalize gender concerns at all levels through steps including:

      • the adoption of mainstreaming policies and the formulation of specific mainstreaming strategies for sectoral areas;
      • the improvement of tools and mechanisms for mainstreaming such as the use of data disaggregated by sex and age, of sector-specific gender surveys, studies, and guidelines and checklists for programming;
      • the establishment of instruments and mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation, such as gender impact analysis methodologies;
      • the creation of accountability mechanisms, including incentive and reward systems.

    • In preparation of the comprehensive review of the system-wide medium-term plan for the advancement of women 1996-2001, the extent to which a gender perspective is being applied through institutional directives for planning and programming, rather than as discretionary guidelines should be assessed.

    • The Council may wish to invite all intergovernmental bodies in the UN system with responsibility for overseeing planning and programming to monitor how intergovernmental mandates on mainstreaming are reflected in medium-term plans and in programme budgets, and how follow-up to the Platform for Action is reflected in sectoral programmes and budgets. In particular, the ECOSOC should encourage the governing bodies of, inter alia, UNDP, UNFPA, UNCTAD, and WFP, to assess how the mainstreaming mandate is being translated into country programmes and projects. Governing bodies should be encouraged to review the outcomes of women-specific projects and of a mainstreaming approach in programming. The Council should invite the Governing Bodies of the specialized agencies to do likewise.

    • All UN system entities should institute mechanisms to facilitate gender mainstreaming in planning and programming, for example, through intra-departmental coordination, or the participation of gender specialists in the planning and programming mechanisms of their respective organization or department. Senior decision-makers should seek the advice of gender specialists on how to mainstream gender into planning and programming.

    1. Coordination by DAW, INSTRAW and UNIFEM in mainstreaming a gender perspective

    1. In the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, the mainstreaming mandate expands the role of the core women-specific entities of the UN system referred to in the Platform for Action, i.e. DAW, UNIFEM and INSTRAW, and other gender units/focal points to include provision of advice and guidance on how to apply the gender variable. The core entities have sought to share information and develop joint activities, including in relation to gender mainstreaming. The functions of these entities are referred to in the Platform for Action and subsequent intergovernmental mandates, including their role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in various spheres such as research, policy formulation, data collection and analysis, information and communication and operational activities.

    Recommendations: Coordination by DAW, INSTRAW and UNIFEM
    in mainstreaming a gender perspective

    • In order to strengthen the programmatic complementarities of the DAW, INSTRAW and UNIFEM, the Council might request that the annual reports of both INSTRAW and UNIFEM be submitted to the CSW so that the Commission may advise the Council on how best to harmonize the implementation of their mandates and avoid overlap.

    • The Council might encourage the continued development of joint activities and of work plans in such areas as women's human rights, women and decision-making and, taking into account resolution 50/166, violence against women.

    1. The role of gender units/focal points in mainstreaming

    1. The role of gender units/focal points is increasingly that of catalysts advocates and change agents for mainstreaming. Gender specialists emphasize that all activity, whether a technical or sectoral project, or a policy in any given field, needs to be analysed, designed and monitored in reference to target populations.

    2. Gender experts often serve as the main, if not the only, centre of responsibility for implementing the mainstreaming mandate within a department or sector. This suggests lack of awareness of gender issues and the continuation of a 'women-specific' rather than gender approach to programming and implementation. Clear administrative guidelines or accountability mechanisms would strengthen the responsibility of programme managers and senior officials for mainstreaming, and would increase opportunities for gender specialists to engage staff responsible for a particular area or sector in a policy dialogue on gender mainstreaming.

    3. Virtually all UN entities, including departments of the UN Secretariat, have gender units/focal points. The location of such gender experts in the larger organizational structure varies, from being linked to the senior management structure to being located in sectoral areas. The location, seniority, resources, and senior management support given to gender experts determines their effectiveness to act as catalysts for mainstreaming, and the degree to which mainstreaming is reflected in the policy framework of an entity, and in its area and sector programming and implementation.

    4. In addition to having gender units/focal points at their headquarters location, UN entities with country offices or field operations usually have gender focal points at the country level, or sometimes at the regional level, to provide technical support in capacity building for gender mainstreaming in policy and programming processes and for monitoring mainstreaming in the formulation and implementation of programmes and projects. In instances where responsibility for gender issues forms part of the larger portfolio of a staff member, or where junior level staff are responsible for gender issues, opportunities for developing appropriate policy approaches and programme strategies are often limited. Inter- agency arrangements are often in place at the country level to coordinate the efforts of focal points concerned with follow-up to the FWCW and gender mainstreaming. These arrangements, however, are not universal, nor is there much feedback to Headquarters. In countries where UNIFEM Regional Programme Advisers operate, they convene inter-agency task forces or committees on women and gender.

    5. Many entities, including the UN Secretariat, have designated focal points for the status of women and gender balance in staffing. In some instances, these focal points have also been assigned responsibility for substantive mainstreaming issues. It is questionable whether these two sets of issues should be the responsibility of the same individual, but gender experts and focal points for the status of women often work together in developing coordinated strategies to bring about organizational change.

    Recommendations: The role of gender units/focal points in mainstreaming

    • The Council may wish to emphasize the importance of gender units/focal points to support gender mainstreaming into all policies and programmes of the UN system, and their recognition in an institutional context should be stressed. The location, seniority, resources and direct access of gender experts to the most senior levels of management and decision- making, and to all policy-making and programming processes, are critical in translating the mainstreaming mandate into practical reality. The terms of reference of gender focal points should be clear, and they should have the active and demonstrable support of senior managers. The role of such gender specialists in all areas, including in the political, humanitarian, peace and security areas, should be strengthened.

    • The Council may wish to highlight that the responsibilities of gender specialists should include:

      • development of gender-sensitive policies and programme strategies for a sector or an area;
      • provision of advice and support to sectoral staff in applying gender considerations in their work;
      • development of tools and methodologies for mainstreaming;
      • collection and dissemination of information and of best practices;
      • monitoring and evaluation of progress in mainstreaming, both in policy and in programme terms.

    • Coordination and cooperative links between gender specialists and staff working in sectoral areas, both at Headquarters and at country level, should be established and strengthened. Intra- and inter-departmental working groups, inter-sectoral collaboration, and ongoing information exchange between gender experts and sectoral staff are among the means that could be used for increasing awareness and skills in mainstreaming.

    • Gender specialists, particularly at country level, should continue to place major emphasis on establishing policy dialogue with sectoral areas, including in the integrated follow-up to all recent UN conferences. Such linkages would facilitate the identification of the complementarity of the critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action with the results of other recent UN conferences, and would ensure the integration of follow-up to the Platform with that of all other recent UN conferences at country level. Gender specialists should collaborate with and seek advice from UNIFEM in that process.

    • Gender units/focal points should provide guidance on how gender equality concerns can be made a central concern in conference follow-up at the national level, while at the same time assisting in the identification of women-specific components in programming and in projects, as appropriate. Opportunities for collaboration between gender specialists and organizations of civil society should be further developed and utilized. Gender focal points as well as UNIFEM, DAW and INSTRAW should strengthen networking with national machinery for the advancement of women and facilitate linkages between such machinery and the institutions and processes engaged in implementation of the results of other recent UN conferences.

    • Coordination and communication between gender specialists at the country level, regional gender specialists, gender advisors and gender units at Headquarters should be strengthened, including through expanded use of electronic means of communication. Existing inter-agency arrangements at the country level on gender issues should be strengthened and used to identify areas of commonality and complementarity between implementation of the FWCW and other conferences, and for gender mainstreaming.

    1. Capacity-building for mainstreaming

    1. The specialized expertise of gender units/focal points must be supported by the development of gender awareness and basic gender competencies in all staff, and commitment to applying gender concepts at all stages of work processes. Such competence is critical for providing all inter-governmental bodies with reports that reflect a gender perspective, and to facilitate gender-conscious decision-making by intergovernmental machinery in all areas. The provision of necessary training is therefore essential.

    2. Awareness of regional and global mandates on gender equality and on mainstreaming a gender perspective, as contained primarily in the Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the regional Plans and Platforms for Action adopted prior to the FWCW in 1994, is a prerequisite for staff. All staff should be aware of an organization's policy with regard to gender mainstreaming, and be familiar with the use of data and information disaggregated by sex and of checklists or similar tools.

    3. The most widely used mechanism for capacity building is gender training. Training should form part of a broader strategy including incentive and accountability measures, clear guidelines and responsibilities, and follow-up to training, especially on-the-job application of acquired skills. Gender awareness, training in gender analysis and application of tools, technical support to gender-sensitive programme design, monitoring and evaluation are among the components of a gender mainstreaming strategy.

    4. Many entities have a substantial record in providing gender training to their gender experts, staff, and national counterparts. They include UNIDO, ESCWA, ESCAP, WFP, UNHCR, INSTRAW and UNIFEM. UNICEF's Women's Equality and Empowerment Framework promotes women's empowerment as an intrinsic part of the development process. It has two components: (a) training of UNICEF staff and counterparts on gender concepts and the application of the Framework, and (b) setting up of global and regional gender networks of experts/resource persons for supporting country programme preparation. UNDP's training for gender mainstreaming embraces organizational change as a key component of gender mainstreaming. UNFPA is in the process of training all of its staff at Headquarters, regional and country levels in gender mainstreaming and gender analysis of programmes and sub-programmes. FAO, ILO and UNDP have developed a socio-economic and gender analysis (SEAGA) programme which seeks to locate gender within the broader context of social and economic relations and processes. SEAGA uses a systems theory approach and one of its central principles is an understanding of the connections between gender and other social variables.

    5. Manuals for gender training have been, or are being developed, by a number of entities. Methodologies for gender training are also being developed, sometimes collaboratively, by UN entities.

    6. A comprehensive assessment of whether gender training is implemented systematically by the UN system has not been conducted. Measuring the impact of gender training on programme performance is constrained by lack of appropriate indicators, including in programme responses. There is only limited evaluation of the impact of gender training with regard to programme output. There is also no systematic exchange of training materials or methodologies. Systematic exchange of training manuals and methodologies, and of evaluation and impact assessments, allows other parts of the system to benefit from existing initiative.

    7. National capacity building in gender analysis, gender planning and gender mainstreaming skills is essential for mainstreaming a gender perspective in development cooperation, and in the integrated follow-up to recent United Nations conferences. While national machinery for the advancement of women, and welfare and social services usually receives priority, other sectoral ministries such as finance, planning, agriculture, health, energy, etc., also require awareness and basic skills so that gender issues are incorporated within the scope of country and region-wide development initiatives. Joint training of UN staff with government and NGO counterparts has been beneficial in programme follow-up, building networks and expansion of training across sectors.

    Recommendations: Capacity-building for mainstreaming

    • The United Nations system should ensure that specialized gender expertise is available to all entities and in all areas, and increase opportunities for gender specialists to improve their skills and receive ongoing training.

    • All staff should be required to have basic gender competence and assume responsibility for mainstreaming in their respective assignments. An inventory of strategies and efforts currently in place to increase gender awareness and strengthen skills for gender planning, programming, monitoring and evaluation should be prepared. Successful practices should be identified and widely shared throughout the UN system, particularly amongst senior managers and decision-makers. The impact of a multi-pronged approach to strengthening gender competence using gender training and other approaches to motivating staff, should be evaluated and used as basis for further efforts in human resource development.

    • A system-wide evaluation of the impact of gender training, including with regard to programme performance, provided to UN gender specialists, staff, and governmental counterparts should be prepared, and successful practices should be identified.

    • A database of all UN system activities and materials related to increasing gender competence and capacity for gender mainstreaming should be created and maintained, including of gender training materials and manuals.

    • Resources for capacity building in gender mainstreaming should be identified, particularly from extrabudgetary resources.

    1. Information base for mainstreaming

    1. Progress in mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes requires the availability of, and access to, information about gender concepts and their relevance for a sector or an issue, as well as data and information to incorporate gender considerations in research and analysis, policy and programme development, decision- making, and monitoring and evaluation. [11]

    2. Led by the UN Statistics Division, the UN system collaborates closely in developing and compiling social indicators in a wide range of subject matter fields, including those related to gender. [12] A minimum national social data set was endorsed by the Statistical Commission to monitor follow-up to UN conferences and summits with the help of statistics and indicators. Assistance is provided to countries and regional organizations in the preparation and production of gender statistics and indicator publications.

    3. The Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality will assess efforts undertaken by the UN system and by ACC in developing statistics and indicators and qualitative data for monitoring follow-up to recent UN conferences and summits. It will evaluate these efforts with regard to gender dimensions and gender programming, and prepare recommendations for harmonization and elimination of duplication. The Committee will also assess efforts to develop qualitative data and indicators.

    4. The DAW, INSTRAW and UNIFEM have launched an Internet site, WomenWatch, to serve as a dedicated gateway to information on global women's issues available in the UN system. It also links various databases that are disaggregated by sex.

    Recommendations: Information in support of mainstreaming

    • The Statistics Division, in collaboration with the UN system, should further develop the Wistat database to cover a wider range of indicators and related statistics on various aspects of social and economic development and to make the outputs of Wistat more accessible to users. Statistics and indicators on unremunerated work, time use and poverty, and on reproductive health and access to health services should be improved. The development of guidelines for the use of statistics to monitor the implementation of CEDAW should continue.

    • The appropriate UN bodies and entities should make efforts to develop qualitative indicators to monitor the implementation of gender-related recommendations of the recent UN conferences. Attention should also be given to the development of benchmarks in the implementation of international human rights instruments as they pertain to women.

    • Use of electronic networks for exchange of information on women's issues and gender mainstreaming should be expanded as an important component of overall communication strategies and should become a regular component in project development.

    • UN agencies, funds and programmes should be urged to support WomenWatch, the UN internet gateway on women's issues, and to participate in its development.

    1. Gender balance

    1. A critical mass of women in decision-making is believed to contribute to changes in organizational culture. Such changes often create a more conducive environment for mainstreaming, but the numbers of female staff and managers per se is not an indicator of the degree to which a gender perspective is being mainstreamed into policies and programmes.

    2. Although the achievement of gender balance has been a concern of the General Assembly and other intergovernmental bodies for some time, currently, no intergovernmental body receives comprehensive statistical information regarding the numbers and percentage of women at all levels in the organizations and entities of the UN system.

    3. UN agencies have made efforts to demonstrate their commitment to promoting the advancement of women through their own staffing policies. Initiatives include the UN's strategic plan of action for the improvement of the status of women in the Secretariat (1995- 2000) adopted by the General Assembly in 1994, and an administrative instruction on special measures for the achievement of gender equality (ST/AI/412). Projections under the strategic plan are being recalculated and the special measures are being streamlined and updated.

    4. Policies on harassment, including sexual harassment are being developed, and work, family and life issues are being addressed to encourage women's and men's equal participation in the organizations of the system. Tools and methodologies for promoting attitudinal changes in the workplace, including through specific measures of accountability and responsibility, are necessary. A comprehensive questionnaire on harassment including sexual harassment is being circulated to staff in UN, UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA in order to have a more informed view of the situation and to amend policies accordingly.

    Recommendations: Gender balance

    • The Council might recommend that the preparation and presentation to the General Assembly and the Commission on the Status of Women of statistical information regarding the number and percentage of women at all levels system-wide be revived in order to facilitate a comprehensive approach to intergovernmental monitoring of changes and progress.

    • The Consultative Committee on Administrative Questions and the ICSC, should monitor progress in implementing staffing policies aimed at achieving gender balance, and should identify obstacles in that regard. They should also monitor the development, implementation and impact on women's participation of measures aimed at creating a gender sensitive work environment.

    B. Experience and lessons learned in gender mainstreaming

    1. Since the Fourth World Conference on Women, several operational entities have undertaken assessments and have analyzed lessons learned in integrating women's issues into their activities and in gender mainstreaming.

    2. UNDP conducted an extensive review of gender mainstreaming in twenty of its programme countries, and convened a consultation on gender mainstreaming in February 1997 with the participation of several agencies. Based on the finding that most country offices had not truly evolved gender planning systems, and that the bulk of the work was WID focused, the resulting implications for future progress were summarized in a guidance note for gender planning for UNDP offices.

    3. UNFPA is assessing the extent to which gender considerations are being effectively mainstreamed into all aspects of its reproductive health, population and development work, and into its advocacy policies, strategies and programmes at global, regional and country levels. Policy guidelines are being revised to ensure appropriate integration of gender issues and a conceptual framework on gender mainstreaming and quantitative and qualitative indicators has been formulated. Missions are being undertaken in twelve countries to determine the degree to which gender mainstreaming is being effectively implemented in UNFPA-supported country programmes and projects.

    4. UNICEF has undertaken periodic desk reviews of its capacity building programme for mainstreaming gender issues in its country programmes. Currently, it is analyzing experience from fifty countries, taking into account actions taken to develop special need-based modules/materials and identifying best practices in the translation of training into country- level actions.

    5. The social and gender planning capacity of WFP in emergency operations was reviewed during 1995 in fifteen countries, and specific case studies were developed. Results indicate that the institutional and operational framework will need to be reconsidered to make it more gender sensitive, and this requires the improvement of WFP's operational policy development, as well as its emergency operations practices. WFP's Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with partners on joint and individual responsibilities of each agency define implementation and monitoring requirements, including participatory mode of planning which consider the specific needs and potentials of refugee and displaced women; provision of appropriate and adequate food considering women and children at risk; substantial positions held by women in managing food aid.

    6. The Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality will convene a joint workshop with the OECD DAC Expert Group on WID to review experiences in mainstreaming. In preparation for the workshop, efforts will be made to collate best practices and lessons learned.

    7. The review of the System-wide medium term plan for the advancement of women in 1998 by the CSW and the ECOSOC will provide an opportunity to assess achievements and obstacles with regard to all activities, including at the field level, in the implementation of the Platform for Action and of mainstreaming a gender perspective.

    Recommendations: Experiences and lessons learned

    • Experience in mainstreaming, including successful strategies and best practices, should be further collected and shared. Particular efforts should be undertaken to collect and document mainstreaming experiences in areas where gender issues have traditionally been less visible, such as in the area of peace, security and peace-keeping, macro-economic policies, and political affairs. The Inter-agency Committee should develop a standardized format for documenting and assessing mainstreaming experiences.

    • Pilot projects should be conducted by different entities with different mandates, including in normative areas, policy development, and operational activities, to assess the impact of mainstreaming on programme output. 'Women-specific' or WID projects should be differentiated from gender mainstreaming.

    • UN entities providing technical assistance should intensify integrated social and economic analysis, since such an integrated approach is more conducive to introducing a gender perspective into project design and implementation.

    • Based on lessons learned, all operational entities and those with field operations should develop and adopt procedures and incentives, including checklists and incentives, for strengthening mainstreaming in programme development and project implementation. Inter- agency committees at country level should be involved in this process so as to ensure that there is no duplication of effort, and that there is consistency in approach. The existing experiences of some entities, including the use of memoranda of understanding on gender equality goals, should be shared broadly with a view to developing model agreements.

    C. Integrated follow-up to global UN conferences

    1. The Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality has emphasized that the inter-agency task forces on follow-up to major UN Conferences needed to integrate fully a gender perspective in their work, including in case studies conducted by some of them at the country level, and in subsequent activities relating to integrated follow-up to global conferences. It offered its support and identified a number of steps which could facilitate gender factors being taken into consideration by them.

    2. Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and mainstreaming a gender perspective are expected to be an integral part of all UN system conference follow-up activities, especially at the country level. The involvement of national machinery for the advancement of women, and women's groups and NGOs in those larger development efforts is essential.

    3. The report of the Secretary-General in accordance with ECOSOC resolution 1996/36 contains information on the activities of the three inter-agency task forces to support country level follow-up to recent United Nations conferences and summits, as well as the IACWGE and the IACSD (E/1997/...). It provides some information on follow up to the Platform for Action and the mainstreaming of a gender perspective, as well as a regional perspective on follow-up.

    4. The UN regional commissions have also taken steps to facilitate inter-agency cooperation in the follow-up to recent UN Conferences. ESCAP is developing quantitative and qualitative indicators for overall monitoring of regional implementation of the global conferences. ESCWA has established an inter-agency coordination group for integrated conference follow-up. ECLAC's regional programme of action, as reflected also in its programme budget 1998-1999 and its medium-term plan 1998-2001 has the potential for integrated follow-up to all UN conferences, but its implementation has been hampered by limited allocation of human and financial resources. In ECA, gender is identified as a cross cutting issue in the new strategic direction of the ECA. ECE has prepared a synopsis of activities undertaken by organizations involved in regional follow-up in each of the critical areas of concern covered by the Platform for Action.

      Recommendations: Integrated follow up to UN conferences

      • The role of the Resident Coordinators in developing a coherent approach to gender mainstreaming in integrated conference follow-up at the country level and in highlighting gender issues with governmental counterparts and the donor community should be strengthened. Gender should be taken into account by all thematic groups, and in the preparation of common programme and programme-resource frameworks at the country level, and in the development of common databases in each programme country. UNIFEM Regional Programme Advisers should play a leading role in ensuring that mainstreaming the gender dimension becomes an integral part in these processes. Their work should be closely coordinated with UNDP gender focal points, in their role of advising and supporting UNDP Resident Representatives.

      • UNIFEM's Regional Programme Advisers and UNDP's gender focal points in country offices should strengthen their networking with national machinery for the advancement of women and women's NGOs to facilitate their active participation in overall country programming for sustainable development, particularly in areas other than those specifically addressed to women, and DAW and INSTRAW should interact with national machineries as well. These entities should also increase interaction with the regional commissions in coordination of integrated follow-up.

      D. Accountability for mainstreaming through the use of performance indicators, evaluation of progress in mainstreaming, and impact analysis

    5. There is a gap between endorsements of gender equality policies and their translation into practical reality in programme development, programme output and operational activities. Accountability and responsibility for gender mainstreaming in all areas of policy and programme development and operational activities is imperative for institutionalizing a gender mainstreaming approach. Accountability for gender mainstreaming encompasses both the intergovernmental and the institutional level.

    6. Intergovernmental bodies have an ongoing responsibility to monitor action taken in accordance with their mandates. The Commission on the Status of Women has a provision on its agenda for an annual review of mainstreaming in organizations of the United Nations system. The Economic and Social Council is expected to dedicate, before the year 2000, one operational activities segment and one high-level segment to questions related to the advancement of women, and follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women. The General Assembly receives an annual report on follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and mainstreaming of a gender perspective.

    7. Accountability needs to be shifted from gender units/focal points to institutions. The input approach currently in place, characterized by policies, guidelines, training, and designated staff responsible for gender issues must be supplemented with an outcome approach.

    8. The study on technical assistance and women: from mainstreaming towards institutional accountability, [13] and a discussion paper submitted by the JCGP GID Subgroup to the second session of the Inter-agency Committee, presented recommendations to increase accountability for gender mainstreaming by development cooperation agencies. Both studies emphasized internal agency accountability, and institutional mechanisms and management culture as key entry points for establishing accountability structures. Both stressed the importance of accountability for outcomes, and for establishing mainstreaming as an institution-wide responsibility, rather than as a responsibility of gender experts.

      Recommendations: Accountability

      • The Interagency Committee on Women and Gender Equality should prepare a catalogue of accountability measures, including performance indicators, to monitor and evaluate progress in mainstreaming. Such measures should cover the programmatic side, including programme output, the staff performance and capacity side, and the resource side. A number of core indicators should be identified which should be used in all departments and entities, and on the basis of which a base line on gender mainstreaming should be established. Performance should be monitored on a regular basis and be reported to intergovernmental bodies, including the CSW.

      [1] A/51/322, paras 7 - 15.

      [2] A/50/509, and the comments of ACC thereon, contained in A/51/180, and E/CN.6/1995/6.

      [3] For a selection of such action taken, see A/51/322.

      [4] GA resolution 50/120, op. 43.

      [5] GA resolution 51/75

      [6] See A/51/16, (Part I)

      [7] The recommendation gives guidance to the ACC Inter-agency Task Force on Basic Social Services for All and to the UN system and other organizations in their work on migration and development.

      [8] See E/CN.4.1997/40.

      [9] A/51/829

      [10] Report of the Secretary General, Technical assistance and women: from mainstreaming towards institutional accountability, E/CN.6/1995/6, 19 December 1994.

      [11] See Beijing Platform for Action, Chapter IV.H, Strategic objective 3.

      [12] Examples include two issues of The World's Women: Trends and Statistics, 1990 and 1995, and the Women's Indicators and Statistics Database Version 3, CD-ROM (Wistat-CD), covering a wide range of subject-matter fields related to gender.

      [13] Op.cit. E/CN.6/1995/6.

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