Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Commission on the Status of Women
16th & 17th Meetings (AM & PM)
In other action, the Commission recommended that the Economic and Social Council adopt various resolutions, one of which focused on Palestinian women. Approved by a recorded vote of 30 in favour to 3 against (Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States), with 8 abstentions (Germany, Belgium, Cameroon, Croatia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden), the text urged the international community to give special attention to the human rights of Palestinian women and girls, and intensify work to improve their conditions. It called for the urgent provision assistance to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis. (For details of the vote, please see annex).
Speaking in general statement before the vote, the representative of Israel said the draft conveniently omitted all references to “Hamas” and “terrorists”. Without incorporating the reality of Palestinian terrorism, the draft was inadequate and misleading, and only prolonged women’s suffering on all sides. The resolution had no place in the Commission, and she called on members to reject “this annual ritual”.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine said the text was relevant to the principles of the Commission, and it was the right of any delegation to bring issues to the body. Palestinian women had lived under occupation for nearly four decades, and they merited the Commission’s consideration. She looked forward to the day when such resolutions did not have to be put forward. Until that time, her delegation would continue to look to the United Nations as the protector of those most in need.
Some other delegates objected to the resolution, saying that country-specific matters should not be taken up by the Commission, as they fell outside its purview.
The Commission on the Status of Women met today to conclude its fifty-third session on the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
Introducing a draft resolution, also to be recommended to the Economic and Social Council, entitled Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2009/L.2/Rev.1), he said the continuing difficulties faced by Palestinian women and the need to provide them with assistance was central to the draft. The text expressed concern about Palestinian women and reaffirmed that Israeli occupation remained an obstacle to their development.
Action on Drafts
The Commission deferred action on the draft resolution entitled Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2009/L.2/Rev.1) until this afternoon to allow for further consultations among delegations.
The Commission then began its consideration of the resolution on the Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2009/L.2/Rev.1).
Speaking before action on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the representative of Sudan said he hoped all would vote in favour of the resolution. He also asked who had requested the recorded vote.
The Chairman responded that the United States had requested the vote.
In a general statement, the representative of Israel said the draft should not be under consideration, as it was one-sided. Other forums were more appropriate for the issue. Besides, the draft conveniently omitted all references to “Hamas” and “terrorists”. Clearly, the challenges facing Palestinian women were significant, but without incorporating the reality of Palestinian terrorism, the draft was inadequate and misleading, and only prolonged women’s suffering on all sides. The reality was that Palestinian civilians continued to be used as pawns by Hamas. If it was the wish of the Commission to examine reality in the region, the text should recognize challenges faced by Israeli women and the impact on them of Palestinian terrorism. The resolution had no place in the Commission, and she called on members to reject “this annual ritual”.
Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the United States said her delegation had come to the meeting with a message of change. Sadly, on this resolution, instead of change, the Commission had been presented with an “unbalanced” statement. The United States was deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and would continue to provide assistance to the Palestinians, including through budget support for the Palestinian Authority. The United States was the largest bilateral donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and contributed a significant amount to other organizations serving Palestinian women.
Vigorous American engagement could support the parties as they took the necessary risks to create peace, she said. The United States supported a two-State solution. The Quartet was the most effective instrument for affecting the international community’s engagement to bring lasting peace to the Middle East. She sought actions that contributed to progress, rather than politicizing resolutions. The resolution sought to politicize the Commission and was inconsistent with the universal principles of the Commission. The United States would vote against it.
The Commission then approved the resolution on assistance to Palestinian women by a recorded vote of 30 in favour to 3 against (Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States), with 8 abstentions (Germany, Belgium, Cameroon, Croatia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden). (For details of the vote, see Annex)
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of the United Kingdom said it was forced to vote against the resolution. For some years, the United Kingdom had voiced its concern about several aspects of the resolution and the fact that it was being tabled by Commission. It should be taken up by the General Assembly. The resolution was too overtly political in its treatment of the issue. The United Kingdom’s vote should not be interpreted as showing disregard for the plight of Palestinian women; it was deeply concerned by the scale and duration of suffering of Palestinian women exacerbated by the Palestinian conflict. During the 2007 Paris Donor Conference, the United Kingdom had pledged 243 million pounds over the next three years for the Palestinian Authority, and it had pledged millions more for the Palestinians in the wake of the Gaza conflict. Other women in the region, including Israeli women, also suffered while the Middle East conflict persisted.
Spain’s representative said resolutions of the Security Council attributed a greater role for Palestinian women in decision-making during times of conflicts, in order to ensure they were on the same legal footing as men. Spain had abstained from the vote, because, while the general aspect of Palestinian women in terms of their legal situation should be discussed by the Commission, matters of a political nature should be handled by the Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).
The Netherlands’ representative said he had voted against the text because he believed country-specific resolutions did not belong in the Commission. Last year, the Netherlands had abstained during voting on the resolution, but it had voted against it this year to make its point clear.
Japan’s representative expressed hope that the international community would improve the situation of Palestinian women. But the resolution could have been modified to be more balanced and acceptable to a wider range of States. That was why Japan had abstained during the vote. Japan was committed to helping the Palestinian people. It had pledged $200 million during the Gaza Conference in Egypt on 2 March, in addition to its regular funding for the Palestinians.
The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine thanked all delegations that had voted in favour of the resolution. As in the past, deliberations were aimed at securing the broadest support, and she deeply regretted that some delegations had not voted positively. The text was relevant to the principles of the Commission, and it was the right of any delegation to bring issues to the body. Palestinian women had lived under occupation for nearly four decades and they merited the Commission’s consideration. Throughout the discussions, her delegation had displayed flexibility, while others had failed to look into the substance or merit of the resolution at hand.
She said the adoption of the text came at a time when Palestinians continued to suffer throughout the entire Occupied Palestinian Territory. The situation was particularly serious in the Gaza Strip, where, in just 22 days, more than 1,300 Palestinians had been killed by Israel. It was “shocking and tragic” that more than one third of those people had been children. It was preposterous that a Stateless people who were looking to the international community for support were criticized for doing so by Member States. One State had tried to encourage others to adopt its illegal positions. She looked forward to the day that Palestinians would not have to put forward such resolutions. Until that time, her delegation would continue to look to the United Nations as the protector of those most in need.
Vote on Assistance to Palestinian Women
The draft resolution on Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/09/L.2/Rev.1) was approved by a recorded vote of 30 in favour to 3 against, with 8 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Eritrea, Gabon, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Russian Federation, Senegal, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia.
Against: Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States.
Abstain: Belgium, Cameroon, Croatia, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden.
Absent: Belize, Cambodia, Mali, Togo.
For information media • not an official record