2 February 2001


Press Release

Committee on the Elimination of

Discrimination against Women

Twenty-fourth Session

508th Meeting (PM)



Considers Reports of Burundi, Egypt, Finland,

Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Uzbekistan

At the conclusion of its three-week session this afternoon, having considered the reports of eight States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the monitoring body of the Convention made recommendations for the advancement of women in Burundi, Egypt, Finland, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Mongolia and Uzbekistan.

That information is contained in the final report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for its twenty-fourth session

(15 January to 2 February), which the 23-member expert body adopted today.

The outcome of the session includes updated rules of procedure, including those related to the new Optional Protocol to the Convention, which entered into force last month and which allows individuals to petition the Committee.  The Committee also approved its provisional agenda for the next session, which will take place on 2 to 20 July, and agreed on the dates for the pre-session working group for the twenty-fifth session. 

Among other documents adopted today was the Committee’s contribution to the upcoming World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.  It proposed that a gender perspective be integrated into the Conference agenda and that the declaration and the plan of action of the Conference recognize the gender dimension of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance.

In that document, the Committee also recommended that special measures to protect women and girls should be included in the plan of action of the Conference.  It called for the universal ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol as a critical strategy for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as the revision and possible withdrawal of the substantive reservations to the Convention.

Also during this session, the Committee began work on its general recommendation on temporary special measures for the advancement of women under

article 4 of the Convention, which would encourage legal and policy initiatives to accelerate de facto equality.

Addressing the Committee at the closing of the session, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela King, congratulated the members of the Committee on their accomplishments, saying that there had been significant progress in reviewing the countries’ reports.  All States presenting reports had taken their obligations seriously.  Indeed, some of those States had submitted more than one report in order to update their reporting schedule.  That had increased the workload of the Committee, but reduced the backlog.

She went on to say that there had been great interest in the Optional Protocol from States parties to the Convention.  Her office and the Division for the Advancement of Women had also been called on to help formulate a complaints protocol for the economic covenant.  Her office and the Division were preparing to support the Committee’s work under the Optional Protocol.

The session had not been an easy one, she continued.  The Committee had worked very hard and tackled many matters.  She assured the experts of her readiness to provide them with all possible assistance.  She also informed the Committee that efforts were underway to encourage more timely reporting, and a workshop to that end would be held in New Zealand on 10 February.

In conclusion, the Committee’s Chairperson, Charlotte Abaka of Ghana, said because of the wonderful support of the Secretariat staff and the total commitment of the experts, the Committee had been able to make considerable progress.  She thanked all of the experts for their spirit of understanding throughout the session.  She hoped that the Committee would not fail the women of the world, especially since the Optional Protocol had now entered into force. The rules of procedure for the new Protocol had been adopted and she was sure that women were ready to send in their complaints.  She hoped that all victims of sexual discrimination would be able to find recourse within the Committee.

The documents before the Committee were introduced by the Committee’s Rapporteur, Rosalyn Hazelle of St. Kitts and Nevis.  They were all approved by the Committee, as amended.

Background on Committee and Convention

The Committee is a monitoring body of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which entered into force on

3 September 1981.  Meeting twice a year, the Committee considers State parties’ compliance with the Convention, evaluates the progress made and works on the recommendations regarding implementation of that instrument.

The Convention is the most comprehensive treaty on women’s human rights, establishing legally binding obligations to end discrimination.  Often described as an international bill of rights for women, the Convention provides for equality between women and men in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  States parties agree to take all appropriate

measures, including legislative and temporary special ones, to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms of women.  With Saudi Arabia being the latest country to ratify or accede to the Convention, the number of States parties to the Convention became 166 in September 2000.

On 22 December 2000, an Optional Protocol to the Convention came into force, which enables the Committee to consider complaints on sex discrimination from individuals or groups in cases where they have exhausted domestic remedies.  It also creates a procedure enabling the Committee to initiate inquiries into situations of grave or systematic violations of women’s rights.  As of

31 December 2000, 62 States had signed the Protocol, and 13 had ratified or acceded to it.

Committee Membership

The 23 expert members of the Committee, serving in their personal capacity, are:  Charlotte Abaka, Ghana; Ayse Feride Acar, Turkey; Sjamsiah Achmad, Indonesia; Emna Aouij, Tunisia; Ivanka Corti, Italy; Feng Cui, China; Naela Gabr, Egypt; Françoise Gaspard, France; María Yolanda Ferrer Gómez, Cuba; Aída González Martínez, Mexico; Savitri Goonesekere, Sri Lanka; Rosalyn Hazelle, St. Kitts & Nevis; Fatima Kwaku, Nigeria; Rosario Manalo, Philippines; Göran Melander, Sweden; Asha Rose Metengeti-Migiro, United Republic of Tanzania; Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini, South Africa; Frances Livingstone Raday, Israel; Zelmira Regazzoli, Argentina; Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling, Germany; Heisoo Chin, Republic of Korea; Maria Regina Tavares da Silva, Portugal; and Chikako Taya, Japan.

Committee Officers

During the current session, the Committee elected its Bureau for a term of two years.  Charlote Abaka of Ghana is the Committee’s Chairperson; Ayse Feride Acar of Turkey, Zelmira Regazzoli of Argentina and Rosario Manalo of the Philippines are its three Vice-Chairpersons; and Rosalyn Hazelle of St. Kitts and Nevis is the Committee’s Rapporteur.

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For information media. Not an official record.