7 March 2007


7 March 2007
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on the Status of Women

Fifty-first Session

11th Meeting (AM)

commission on status of women discusses need for greater harmony in talks

with presidents of Economic and Social, human rights councils

Delegations Table Draft Resolutions on Discrimination, Violence against Women

The Commission on the Status of Women discussed with the Presidents of the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council this morning the need for greater harmony in the work of the three bodies amid efforts to strengthen United Nations development efforts.  It also heard the introduction of four draft resolutions tied to its priority theme for its fifty-first session -- “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child”.

Briefing the Commission on the Economic and Social Council’s reform process and its impact on all its functional commissions, Dalius Čekuolis ( Lithuania), that organ’s President, acknowledged the Commission’s efforts to increase cooperation between the two bodies.  Since 2002, the Commission had systematically provided important input to the Council’s high-level segment.  In 2006, the Council had adopted resolution 2006/9 on its future organization of the Commission’s methods of work, as it considered its own working methods and procedures for a revitalized Economic and Social Council.

In his first meeting with the Commission since the General Assembly’s adoption of resolution 61/16 -- which formed the basis of the reform process -- he said the Economic and Social Council had striven to deal with the practical and conceptual implementation of its own reform.  It was going through an important and interesting phase of change, the main objective of which was to increase maximum effectiveness as coordinator and reviewer of policy on economic and social development issues.  In doing so, the Council hoped to provide its functional commissions with a stronger and more unified voice.

Also addressing the meeting, Carolyn Hannan, Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women, reiterated the Council’s hope that the Commission would devote part of its 2007 session to strengthening its cooperation with the United Nations regional commissions and with the Organization’s other relevant funds and programmes.  It was to be hoped that the Commission would consider ways to make operational the new functions of the Economic and Social Council -- for instance, its annual ministerial-level reviews and biennial Development Cooperation Forums.

She said information on the Council’s newly decided theme for its 2007 high-level segment -- “Strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development” -- would be made available in a conference room paper (document E/CN.6/2007/CRP.3), which would provide an overview of recommended actions on gender equality and the empowerment of women in relation to poverty and hunger.

Luis Alfonso de Alba ( Mexico), President of the Human Rights Council, highlighted the excellent collaboration between that organ’s Bureau and that of the Commission and pledged to work for a strengthening of that relationship.  The two bodies must benefit from the reform of the United Nations human rights system, which had resulted so far in a strengthened commitment to the human rights of women and the girl child.  The cross-cutting nature of women and girl-child rights had been clear during the first months of the Human Rights Council’s work, even when it had focused primarily on institution-building.

He said the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and the girl child required concerted international actions, and it had been extremely wise of the Commission to have begun examining that theme with the aim of identifying measures to eradicate those practices.  The General Assembly had invited the Human Rights Council to discuss violence against women and, in that respect, the Council had already examined different possibilities of complying with the Assembly’s resolution on that topic and adequately following up on the issue.

A brief discussion ensued between delegates and the two Council Presidents, during which they debated the expected role of observer countries in the two bodies; the selection of Special Rapporteurs and other independent experts; and the nature of the link between the Commission and the Human Rights Council.  The active examination of those questions were part of the overall reform process.

Turning to its own work, the Commission heard the representative of Lesotho introduce a draft resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS (document E/CN.6/2007/L.1) on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), saying the subregional body was particularly concerned that more women than men were infected by the disease.

The representative of Pakistan then introduced, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, a draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2007/L.2), which called attention to the detrimental financial impact on women and their families of Israeli military operations and “sieges” in civilian areas.  That text would call upon the international community to help in the reconstruction of Palestinian institutions, while requesting the Commission to monitor progress in that regard.

South Africa’s representative then introduced, on behalf of the African Group, a draft resolution on ending female genital mutilation (document E/CN.6/2007/L.3), saying it was the first text to deal with that topic.  Although disapproval of the practice had increased, States must demonstrate a stronger commitment to help empower women in resisting that traditional practice where it was still the norm.

The representative of the United States introduced the fourth draft resolution, on forced and early marriage (document E/CN.6/2007/L.4), noting that, although the topic had been mentioned in various United Nations documents since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, there had been no resolutions devoted exclusively to that subject.  Forced and early marriages tended to curtail education and employment opportunities for girls, and the text called attention to the health risks posed to young brides during pregnancy and delivery, such as the propensity for obstetric fistulas.

Regarding the last draft resolution, the representative of El Salvador remarked that the question of forced and early marriage elicited different responses depending on the realities faced by each country.

The Commission on the Status of Women will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 8 March, to mark the observance of International Women’s Day.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.