Beijing+5: 23rd special session of the General Assembly

    Preparations for Beijing+5 - special session of the General Assembly, Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century
    [ last updated: 4 June 2000]

    1. At its second session, the Commission on the Status of Women acting as Preparatory Committee for the special session adopted resolution (E/CN.6/1999/L.2 Rev.1) on Preparations for the Special Session. The following is an up-date on responses to the resolution and activities currently underway or being planned.

    Preparations at the national level

    2. The Commission invited Governments that had not yet done so to prepare national action plans. As of 27 April 2000, 117 Governments and two Observers had prepared such plans and submitted them to the Division for the Advancement of Women.

    3. As of 4 June ,2000,  147 Member States and two Observers had responded to the Secretary-General’s questionnaire on the implementation of the Platform for Action.  These reports are available for review at the DAW.  A limited number of them are now available on the DAW website.

    Preparations at the regional level

    4. The CSW encouraged all UN regional commissions and other intergovernmental organizations to carry out activities in support of the preparations. In this regard, the following regional preparatory meetings have taken place and the outcome has been forwarded to the third session of the Commission on the Status of Women acting as the Preparatory Committee for the special session of the General Assembly (3-19 March 2000):

    ESCAP – High-level meeting to Review the Implementation of the Jakarta Declaration and Plan of Action and Regional Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was held 26-29 October, 1999, Bangkok, Thailand.  Final report and other documents are available on the ESCAP website.

    ECA – Sixth African Regional Conference on Women to assess progress in the implementation of the Beijing and African Platforms for Action was held 22-27 November 1999, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Background documents are available on the Conference website.

    ESCWA – Second Arab Meeting to follow-up Beijing was held 15-18 December 1998; Arab Conference on Integrated Follow-up to Global Conferences was held 29 November - 1 December, 1999, Beirut, Lebanon.   Background information is available from the ESCWA website.

    ECE – ECE Regional Preparatory Meeting on the 2000 Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action was held 19-21January 2000, Geneva.  Agreed Conclusions and other documents are available on the ECE Beijing +5 website.

    ECLAC – 8th Regional Conference was held 8-10 February 2000, Lima, Peru.  The Lima Consensus is available from the ECLAC website.

    5. On 10 May, the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women wrote to a number of intergovernmental organizations such as the OAU and the OAS, encouraging their active involvement in the preparatory process at various levels, and inviting them to take special initiatives to maintain the momentum of the Beijing Platform for Action.

    Preparations at the global level

    Review and appraisal of the implementation of the Platform for Action

    6. The Division for the Advancement of Women has analysed the responses to the questionnaire on implementation of the Platform for Action in order to prepare the comprehensive review and appraisal document to be submitted to the Preparatory Committee in March 2000.   A total of 133 reports from Member States and two reports from observers have been analysed.  Those reports that were received after end of December 1999 could not be included in the analysis.  The review and appraisal report (E/CN.6/2000/PC/2) is made up of three parts: Part I: background and overview of trends in the implementation of the Platform for Action; Part II: critical areas of concern, institutional and financial arrangements; Part III: trends and challenges of global change. 

    7. The United Nations agencies have been invited to supply information to DAW for the assessment of the implementation of the System-wide medium term plan for the advancement of women (1996-2001), or SWMTP. The SWMTP is the UN system response to the Platform for Action and related conference agreements. This assessment (E/CN.6/2000/3) was submitted to the CSW in March 2000 as part of the review and appraisal.

    8. An international workshop on "Beijing +5 - Future Actions and Initiatives" was convened by the Division for the Advancement of Women, hosted by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) at the United Nations House in Beirut (Lebanon), from 8 to 10 November 1999.  The workshop was attended by experts from all regions and observers from the United Nations system.   The recommendations of the workshop (ECN.6/2000/PC/4) was forwarded to the Commission on the Status of Women acting as the Preparatory Committee for the Special Session.

    WomenWatch online working groups

    9. WomenWatch conducted online Working Groups on the 12 critical areas. The discussions by these Working Groups were summarized in a report, which was submitted to the CSW acting as the preparatory committee for the special session (E/CN.6/2000/PC/CRP.1).  

    Third Session of the CSW as Preparatory Committee

    10. The third session of the prepcom was held from 3-17 March 2000, during which the Commission heard statements from many delegations, United Nations agencies and NGOs. A wide range of gender issues was debated and a number of divergent approaches was discussed. Delegations affirmed the Beijing Platform for Action as an essential instrument for the achievement of gender equality, which would not be open to renegotiations. Delegates negotiated in two parallel groups the proposed outcome document for the special session (E/CN.6/2000/PC/L.1/Rev.1). They also discussed the draft provisional agenda and organizational matters (E/CN.6/2000/PC.8) and the list of speakers (E/CN.6/2000/PC.9) for the special session.

    Documents adopted

    11. Delegates approved on 3 March 2000, two draft decisions on the participation and accreditation of NGOs at the UN Special Session, which were forwarded to and adopted by the General Assembly.  The resolution on participation (A/54/ ) allows those NGOs accredited to the Special Session to make statements in the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole and a limited number of NGOs in good standing in their consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to make statements in the debate in the plenary of the special session.  The resolution on accreditation (A/54/467) allows non-governmental organizations that neither are in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council nor were accredited to the Fourth World Conference on Women and its preparatory process to apply for accreditation to the special session.

    12. Delegates adopted on  Friday, 17 March 2000, as orally revised, the Draft Political Declaration (E/CN.6/2000/PC/L.5) and the draft provisional agenda and organizational matters for the 23rd Special  Session of the GA (E/CN.6/2000/PC/L.6). Delegates also adopted documents relevant to: the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing PFA (E/CN.6/2000/PC/2); emerging issues containing additional material for further actions and initiatives for the preparation of the outlook beyond the year 2000 (E/CN.6/2000/PC/4); and the results of regional meetings held in preparation for the Special Session of the GA (E/CN.6/2000/PC/6 and Add.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

    Work on the proposed outcome document

    13. During the third session of the PrepCom, delegates convened in two informal Working Groups to negotiate the outcome document. Working Group I was chaired by Kirsten Mlacak (Canada) to negotiate the first three sections of the outcome document.  Working Group II, chaired by Asit K. Bhattacharjee (India), concentrated on Section IV on actions and initiatives of the document.  

    14. At the closing of the session, work on the outcome document could not be completed.   Working Group I had discussed 23 out of 48 paragraphs in parts I, II and III and reached agreement on three paragraphs of the outcome document.  Working Group II had discussed 14 introductory paragraphs in Part IV and reached agreement on six paragraphs.   It also reached agreement on six of the 120 recommendations in part IV.   Delays frequently occurred in presenting group positions and negotiations often were suspended in order for groups to reach consensus among themselves.  Some delegates also pointed out the problems with competing requirements of other sets of negotiations, particularly those in preparation for the upcoming World Summit for Social Development review.

    15. At the closing plenary, PrepCom Chair Roselyn Odera noted that though the PrepCom might not have achieved all that it had set out to, it had attained some measure of success, under great time pressure. Moreover, everyone had been committed to producing a good outcome for the special session in June, when "it will all be worthwhile".   Ms Odera presented a draft decision (E/CN.6/2000/PC/L.7)  on intersessional informal meetings to finalize work on the outcome document. It was proposed that meetings be held at UN Headquarters on: 20 April, 8, 9 and 11 May,  and 30 May - 2 June 2000.

    16. At its meeting on 23 March 2000, the Bureau of the CSW acting as the PrepCom for the special session agreed to establish an extended bureau group, including the representatives of negotiating groups,  to streamline the draft outcome document.  Since then the extended Bureau has held daily meetings to review the document in terms of duplications, and appropriate placing of paragraphs.  The outcome of the work of the extended Bureau was presented to the delegations during informal consultations on 20 April, 2000.  The content and wording of the outcome document as contained in E/CN.6/2000/PC/L.1/Rev.2 on the DAW website has not been changed but merely reorganized within its existing structure.    The streamlined version, as well as the most current version of the document, reflecting results of informal consultations can be obtained from the DAW website.

    New PrepCom Chair Elected

    17.  On 20 April 2000, CSW Acting as the Preparatory Committee for the Special Session held a formal meeting to elect Ms Christine Kapalata of the United Republic of Tanzania as the Chairperson of the PrepCom.  Her predecessor was Ms. Roselyn Odera of Kenya, who served as Chairperson of the PrepCom since 28 June, 1999.  Ms. Aicha Afifi of Morocco has been appointed by the African Group to be the Vice-Chairperson of the PrepCom, a post vacated by Ms Kapalata.  Informal consultations were held on the same day during which the new Chair presented documents E/CN.6/2000/PC/L.8 and E/CN.6/2000/PC/L.8/Add.1 for adoption before proceeding to a discussion of the streamlined document.

    Activities of the UN system

    18. In regular reports by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly, the Commission on the Status of Women and the ECOSOC (see for example, E/CN.6/1999/2), the Secretariat compiles information on follow-up to the Beijing Conference by UN agencies, intergovernmental bodies, and NGOs. Moreover, the report on the Initiation of the Comprehensive Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Platform for Action (E/CN.6/1999/PC/3) submitted to the Preparatory Committee in March 1999, contained specific information on preparations for the special session.

    19. The following is an interim update on activities reported to be underway or planned by a number of entities of the United Nations system related to preparations for the five-year review:

      IACWGE – has developed a statement on Gender Equality: a vision for the 21st century.

      INSTRAW -will launch during the special session its new GENDER AWARENESS INFORMATION AND NETWORKING SYSTEM (GAINS).  It will feature a demonstration of the prototype GAINS website along with an introduction to the services and components to be offered. INSTRAW will launch two publications: "Engendering the Political Agenda: the role of the United Nations, Women's Organizations and National Governments" and "Temporary Labour Migration of Women: case studies of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka". Both publications provide important insights to the process of reviewing the implementation of the Platform for Action and identify steps to be taken to further the goals of the Beijing Conference. For more information please contact or

      The World Bank has produced a special report which outlines actions the World Bank has taken to integrate gender equality into its work since the FWCW. Entitled "Advancing Gender Equality: World Bank Action Since Beijing", this report is accessible from the Bank's recently launched Beijing +5 website.

      The OHCHR is focusing on trafficking on women and girls.

      The Department of Public Information has developed an information strategy for the special session in collaboration with DAW. 

      UNIFEM is preparing a report on women’s progress towards empowerment and gender equality. UNIFEM has launched a Beijing +5 website which has regularly updated information on activities being undertaken at the country level.  It is developing and implementing media strategies to stimulate widespread coverage of Beijing +5 activities and results to ensure widespread access to and participation in Beijing +5 discussions and debates. It has also supported government and non-governmental partners to undertake analysis and preparation of reports at the local, national, regional and international level that lead to recommendations and commitments emerging from Beijing +5 activities. 

      UNDP - has been working in the context of the country programmes to collect good practices with a focus on political and economic empowerment issues linked to poverty eradication and identifying challenges to institutions in introducing gender mainstreaming.  Updates of UNDP Beijing +5 activities can be obtained from Its Beijing +5 website at

      UNFPA is preparing a series of publications focusing on: progress in the implementation of both the ICPD and the Beijing agreements, success stories collected at the national level on mainstreaming gender concerns in Population and Development programmes, UNFPA's experience in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action, progressive gains on reproductive and sexual health, including reproductive rights, in the various international conference.   It plans to hold a high-level forum on Best Practices in Gender, Population and Development during the UNGASS in June 2000.   During this Forum selected national delegates will be able to present success stories in mainstreaming Gender in Population and Development.  More information on UNFPA activities in preparation for Beijing +5 can be found at

      UNICEF - has been consulting its national and regional offices to develop its activities and to assess at the country level, the impact of the Beijing follow up.   UNICEF has launched on its website a discussion forum entitled "Voices of Youth: Beijing+5 - Discuss Gender Inequality". The forum invites young people to talk about ways that gender inequality and discrimination affect their lives, and what changes they have seen over the past several years. 

      WHO is focusing on: violence against women, improving women’s health, gender differences in epidemiology, health promotion, non-communicable diseases, gender mainstreaming, information dissemination, and advocacy. 

      WFP has conducted a review of the implementation of its Beijing commitments and the Executive Board has made recommendations for further action.

      The World Intellectual Property Organization organised an exhibition of women inventors.

    Preparations by non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations

    20. As of 26 April 2000, the Division for the Advancement of Women has received pre-registration forms from approximately 1,000 NGOs that are in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and/or were accredited to the Fourth World Conference on Women. In addition, 317 NGOs have been recommended for accreditation by the preparatory committee to attend the special session. The preparatory committee has until 10 May 2000 to decide on their accreditation. Further 300 organizations submitted applications for accreditation; however, their applications were not complete.

    21. The NGO Working Session, originally scheduled to take place from 2-3 June 2000, will now take place on 3 June 2000. Plans for the NGO Working Session are yet to be finalized, however, CONGO will issue an invitation in May to those NGOs which are accredited to attend the special session to the NGO Working Session.

    22. Various non-governmental organizations are working to keep the NGO community informed about the preparatory work for the special session. One example is the WomenAction 2000 global website ( which is maintained by a coalition of NGO women’s media/information groups representing almost all regions of the world, with links to WomenAction 2000 regional websites in Africa, Asia/Pacific, Latin America/Caribbean, and Europe/North America. Women’s GlobalNet is a bi-weekly email/fax bulletin of regional and sub-regional activities and initiatives worldwide, monitoring initiatives around the Beijing Platform for Action.

    23. The International Women’s Tribune Centre has published three issues in a series entitled Preview 2000 that cover plans and preparations for the five-year review of the Platform for Action. Flora Tristan with UNICEF and UNIFEM has published case studies, entitled Roads to Beijing, which reflects on the Beijing process in Latin America and the Caribbean. Isis International-Manila has prepared the Primer on the Beijing+5 Review which contains basic information on activities, schedules, contact organizations and individuals involved in the preparations and the actual conduct of the special session. The Primer is designed to inform and encourage the involvement of women's groups and organizations in the Asia and the Pacific region in assessing an international policy document that seeks to advance and promote women's empowerment and development. The Primer can be accessed at website:

    24. The Asian Women's Resource Exchange of AWORC is an internet-based women's information service and network in Asia. It is an initiative geared towards developing cooperative approaches and partnerships in increasing access and exploring applications of new information and communication technologies for women's empowerment. AWORC has set up a website ( as its contribution to the Beijing+5 review process in Asia and the Pacific. The site highlights resources, activities and organizations of women in the region. It aims to serve as an information and communication channel for women's organizations working on various aspects of the review process. AWORC organized the Asian Women's Electronic Network Training Workshop from 21-26 June 1999 at the Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul, Korea. The workshop was designed to assist other women NGOs in developing online information for the Beijing +5 review.

    25. Beijing+5 NGO Host Committee has been set up to coordinate and organize a variety of NGO activities in New York in parallel with the special session. The Host Committee will also assist NGO representatives with regard to applying for visas. For further information, contact Ms. Promita Sengupta, Programme Coordinator, US Host Committee, c/o Sister Fund, 116 East 116th Street, 7th floor, New York, NY 10003, USA, tel: (212) 228-9605, fax: (212) 260-4633, email:

    26. The US Custom House is one of the off-site locations for NGO activities during the special session organized by the Beijing+5 NGO Host Committee. Those NGOs who will not be accredited to the UN special session but who still plan to come to New York to take part in activities scheduled to take place at the US Custom House need to register in advance. The deadline for registration for those activities is 15 May 2000. To register, NGOs need to send the names of their representatives, address, telephone number and email address to the Beijing+5 Host Committee. Credentials will be issued from 31 May through 8 June 2000 from 9.00 am-5.00 pm at the US Custom House in New York, and at the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Washington, DC.

    27. Most other NGO activities, including caucuses, receptions and workshops at the Church Centre, the Internet Café and Media Centre, events at various universities in the New York area, and other locations under consideration do not require registration and will be open to all.

    28. In March 2000, the International NGO Coordinating Committee (INCC) nominated a small sub-committee to complete all of the reports received and to work with regional representatives in putting together a final NGO Global Alternative Report. The ultimate aim is to have printed copies available for the NGO Working Session on 3 June 2000. For more information about the NGO Global Alternative Report, contact: Romanita Iordache, Alternative Report Coordinator, email:

    29. The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO), in collaboration with the NGO Coordinating Committee for Beijing+5, is collecting alternative reports from NGOs worldwide with a view to collating them and making them available at the special session. Country reports include those on Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Zambia, Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holy See, Ireland, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, UK, USA, Peru, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Tajikistan, Thailand and Iran have been received. Regional and sub-regional reports have also been received from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Western Asia. In addition, reports on issues such as women and armed conflict, health, education, media, human rights, the girl child, women and sports, trafficking in women, indigenous women and domestic violence, have been received. As of 25 April 2000, the total number of NGO alternative reports received by CONGO is 112. This total includes 49 countries reported in 80 separate reports; 16 regional and sub-regional reports and 16 thematic reports. NGOs can send their alternative reports via email to or mail it on a floppy disk to Rebecca Nichols, CONGO, 777 United Nations Plaza, 8th floor, New York, NY 10017.

    [Last updated: 4 June 2000]