29 August 2002


Press Release

Meeting of States Parties Convention

on Elimination of Discrimination against Women

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In two rounds of voting today, the States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women elected 12 experts to serve four-year terms on the Committee monitoring the implementation of the Convention, beginning 1 January 2003.

Acting by secret ballot, the meeting elected 9 new members and re-elected

3 current members to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.  The 23 expert members of the Committee are nominated by governments but serve in their personal capacity. 

During the first round of voting this morning, the following persons were elected as members:  Cornelis Flinterman (Netherlands) 119 votes; Huguette Bokpe Gnancadja (Benin) 110 votes; Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani (Algeria) 106 votes; Akua Kuenyehia (Ghana) 104 votes; Krisztina Morvai (Hungary) 103 votes; Salma Khan (Bangladesh) 102 votes; Pramila Patten (Mauritius) 101 votes; Victoria Popescu Sandru (Romania) 101 votes; Dubravka Simonovic (Croatia) 99 votes.  Re-elected were:  Fumiko Saiga (Japan) 125 votes, and Naela Mohamed Gabr (Egypt) 107 votes.

During a second round of voting this afternoon, Rosario Manalo (Philippines) was re-elected for a four-year term with 82 votes .

The 12 experts whose term of office expires on 31 December 2002 are: Charlotte Abaka (Ghana); Emna Aouij (Tunisia); Ivanka Corti (Italy); Feng Cui (China); Naela Gabr (Egypt); Savitri Goonesekere (Sri Lanka); Roslyn Hazelle (Saint Kitts and Nevis); Rosario Manalo (Philippines); Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini (South Africa); Frances Livingstone Raday (Israel); Zelmira Regazzoli (Argentina) and Fumiko Saiga (Japan).

The 11 members of the Committee who will continue to serve until their terms of office expire on 31 December 2004 are:  Ayse Feride Acar (Turkey); Sjamsiah Achmad (Indonesia); Francoise Gaspard (France); Yolanda Ferrer Gomez (Cuba); Aida Gonzalez Martinez (Mexico); Christine Kapalata (United Republic of Tanzania); Fatima Kwaku (Nigeria); Goran Melander (Sweden); Hanna Beate Schopp-Schilling (Germany); Heisoo Shin (Republic of Korea); and Maria Regina Tavares da Silva (Portugal).

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was opened for signature on 1 March 1980 entered into force on

3 September 1981.  The Convention is the most comprehensive treaty on women's human rights, establishing legally binding obligations to end discrimination. 

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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.  The Committee is mandated to consider reports from States parties and to make suggestions and general recommendations based on those reports.

At the outset of the meeting, States parties elected June Yvonne Clark (Barbados) as Chairperson of the twelfth meeting.  They also elected four Vice-Chairpersons:  Chungong Ayafor (Cameroon) for the Africa Region; Mukta D. Tomar (India) for the Asian Region; Gilbert Laurin (Canada) for the Western European and other States and Ivana Grollova (Czech Republic) for the Eastern European States.

Following her election as Chairperson, Ms. Clark said that it was symbolic that the twelfth meeting of the States parties was taking place just five days before the twenty-first anniversary of the Convention’s entry into force on

3 September 1981.  The fact that there were 170 States parties to the Convention indicated Member States' commitment to the Convention.  And the fact that

22 candidates had been nominated for 12 seats reflected the importance and esteem attached by States parties to the Committee.

Addressing States parties, Carolyn Hannan, Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women, said the meeting was taking place immediately after the exceptional session of the Committee, which had concluded on 23 August.  During that session, which had been authorized by the General Assembly to reduce the backlog of reports awaiting review, 11 States parties had submitted reports to the Committee.  As a result of the Committee’s work during the exceptional session, there was no longer a backlog of reports for the Committee’s consideration.

The Committee had held five sessions since the eleventh meeting of States parties in August 2000, she continued.  It had considered the reports of 35 States parties to the Convention and had adopted a number of decisions and suggestions.  New rules of procedure relating to the review of reports and the Committee’s functions under the Optional Protocol had been adopted.  A Working Group on the Optional Protocol had been established, and a draft model communications form for those submitting petitions had been formulated.  The Committee had continued to improve its working methods, and new reporting guidelines had been adopted.  There were 254 reports currently outstanding.  States with more than one overdue report were encouraged to combine reports and make use of the technical and advisory services available through the Division for the Advancement of Women.

Summarizing the status of the Convention, she said that with Bahrain’s accession to the Convention in June, there were now 170 States parties to the Convention.  Seventy-five had signed the Optional Protocol, most recently, the Seychelles in July.  Forty-three had ratified and acceded to the Convention, most recently Georgia in August.  Thirty-five had accepted the amendment to article 20 related to the Committee’s meeting time, most recently Cyprus in July.  Since

Two thirds of States parties were required to accept the amendment before it entered into force, States parties were encouraged to submit their instruments of

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acceptance with assistance from the Treaty Section of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs.

At the conclusion of the voting, the Chairperson reminded States parties that following the Committee’s exceptional session, 254 reports were outstanding, of which 45 were initial reports and 209 were periodic reports.  The session, authorized by the Assembly to reduce the backlog in reports, had considered

11 reports.  There was no longer a backlog and States parties would no longer have to wait for their reports to be considered.  She appealed to States parties with overdue reports to fulfil their obligations by submitting reports in accordance with article 18 of the Convention.  States parties that had never submitted reports should do so.  She also appealed to States that had not yet ratified the Convention or its Optional Protocol to do so at the earliest possible time.

The representative of Suriname said the day had brought joy as well as disappointment.  She was shocked with the outcome of the elections.  While she would embrace the outcome and congratulate countries that had gained a precious seat in the Committee, she was shocked that excellent candidates that had executed their duties would no longer represent States parties on the Committee.  As a result of today’s election, the Caribbean region would no longer be represented.  The international community needed to rethink procedures in that regard.  Of the Committee’s 23 members, seven were from Africa, six were from Western Europe and other States, five were from the Asian region, three were from Eastern Europe and two were from Latin America. 

The Chairperson reminded States parties that the experts were elected in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States.  While the principle of equitable distribution was desirable, elections were not predictable.  It was time to accept the results and to move on.

In other matters today, the Committee also took note of a document entitled "Declarations, reservations, objections and notifications of withdrawal of reservations relating to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women” (document CEDAW/SP/2002/2).

[Further information on the Convention and the work of the Committee is available on the Web site of the Division for the Advancement of Women:]

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For information media. Not an official record.