Sunday, September 12, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
U.N. Blasted for Sequestering NGOs & Media
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 18 (IPS) - A major structural renovation of the U.N. Secretariat is being used as a pretext to curb media access to delegates and Security Council members, and is also a veritable smokescreen to tighten restrictions on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) accredited to the world body, critics say.
"It's absolutely scandalous," says Jim Paul, executive director of the New York-based Global Policy Forum, which provides intense coverage of U.N. activities in its widely-accessed website. The Capital Master Plan (CMP), a five-year U.N. restructuring project costing about 1.9 billion dollars with a 2013 deadline, is apparently the primary excuse to restrict the physical movement of NGO representatives in the U.N. building, he said. "The United Nations appears to be getting progressively more hostile to NGOs - and member states appear to be behind this trend," Paul told IPS.
Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who had a love-hate relationship with NGOs, once described them as "indispensable partners of the United Nations" and "the conscience of the world". But his administration also had occasional battles with NGOs whose presence in the U.N. building, particularly during summit meetings and General Assembly sessions, was restricted on security grounds. But the current situation is the worst because "it is 10 times more difficult", complained Paul, who is a member of a new 'NGO Working Group on U.N. Access'.
The NGO complaint follows a strong protest by the U.N. Correspondents' Association (UNCA) which recently faulted the world body for new restrictions imposed on press access to delegates and members of the Security Council.
Asked for an update, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters Friday: "I think you should ask the President of the Security Council what the arrangements (for press access) are."
"It is not for me to second guess what the Security Council is doing. I am not going to pre-judge," he added.
Meanwhile, in a hard-hitting letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Working Group says that NGOs "are amongst the closest partners of the United Nations - sharing the vision and promoting the goals and ideals on which the United Nations was established."
But "we (are) compelled to write to you at this time in light of a number of obstacles restricting NGO access to the United Nations at different levels."
"Some of the restrictions are structural and related to the renovations, while others, of greater concern, reflect the political mood prevalent today," the letter complains. "We are particularly concerned that the temporary arrangements, as part of the Capital Master Plan, are creating additional access problems and significantly reducing space for NGO participation."
Currently, over 3,000 NGOs are recognised and provided "consultative status" with the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Additionally, over 2,000 NGOs are recognised and accredited to the world body by the U.N.'s Department of Public Information.
The new NGO Working Group, which is fighting for the rights of NGOs, includes the Conference of NGOs (CONGO) in Consultative Relationship with the U.N., International Service for Human Rights, World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy, Baha'i International Community and Global Policy Forum.
The NGO letter also said: "It is widely acknowledged that in today's increasingly interdependent world, deliberation on issues of global concern - development, security and human rights - requires a closer participation of NGOs than ever before."
"We therefore believe that it is imperative for the United Nations to explore ways and means to expand and render more meaningful the access of NGOs to the Organisation, and its negotiation and decision-making processes," the letter adds.
The Working Group has also asked the secretary-general to assign an individual at a senior level within the executive office to serve as a liaison to the NGO community.
Under Annan, the Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations Gillian Martin Sorensen was the coordinator of NGOs.
In this role, Sorensen "played a significant role in engaging with and assisting NGOs, by organising regular meetings to discuss matters of concern," the letter adds.
In his response, Ban sent a letter pointing out that despite careful planning, "significant challenges remain from the current stage of the implementation of the Capital Master Plan."
"Indeed, the situation is difficult, not only for NGOs but also for member states and the Secretariat," he wrote.
The secretary-general also said that he has directed all departments concerned "to seek sound and coordinated solutions to providing access to as many NGOs as possible, within the security and safety requirements."
Paul dismissed Ban's letter as an "empty, say-nothing" response.
Meanwhile, in a letter to the secretary-general and to the president of the Security Council, UNCA President Giampaolo Pioli expressed "serious concern" about proposed restrictions on press access to Council members outside their new meeting area.
Any attempt to use the move and/or safety concerns as a pretext to institute unprecedented and unnecessary limitations on press access to the delegations is unacceptable to UNCA members since it would further reduce the transparency of the most powerful body within the United Nations, Pioli said.
"It is ironic that the very Security Council whose members have jointly and individually criticised governments around the world for not allowing a free press to operate in their countries have suddenly gotten into the business of curtailing a free press at U.N. headquarters," he added.
Monday, March 15, 2010
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you to Ambassador Alex Wolff and to our U.S. Mission here at the United Nations. And it's wonderful to be back at the United Nations for this occasion.
- United Nations Gender Entity,
- Assistance for Palestinian women,
- Release of women and children during hostage taking,
- Maternal mortality and morbidity,
- Economic Empowerment,
- Women, the Girl Child and HIV/AIDs,
- Ending Female Genital Mutilation
The Commission also adopted the draft report of its current session, as well as the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session.By a recorded vote of 31 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States), with 10 abstentions ( Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Togo), the Commission approved the draft on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women. (See annex for details of the vote.)
By its terms, the Commission, deploring the economic and social conditions of Palestinian women and girls in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, would have the Economic and Social Council demand that Israel comply fully with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other treaties. The Council would call on Israel to facilitate the return of all displaced Palestinian women to their homes, and on the global community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance. The Secretary-General would be requested to continue to review the situation and assist Palestinian women by all available means.Speaking after the vote, the representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine expressed her gratitude to all States that had supported the text. Resolutions remained necessary in light of Israel’s grave human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. She looked forward to a day when Palestine did not have to put forward resolutions, but, until then, her delegation would look to the United Nations to help protect those most in need.
Speaking before the vote, Israel’s delegate expressed dismay at the resolution’s consideration. Rather than address the countless issues women faced, the Commission had been forced to consider a resolution of those who wished to impose their agenda. The text chose to politically scapegoat Israel and failed to mention the deteriorating situation of women as result of terrorist policies by Hamas. She urged standing firmly against consideration of such texts in future.Turning to women in armed conflict, the Commission, by a consensus text on the release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts, reaffirmed that hostage-taking was an illegal act aimed at destroying human rights, and condemned all violent acts committed against civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law, in situations of armed conflict.
In other terms, the Commission called for an effective response to such acts, particularly the immediate release of women and children hostages, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts, by strengthening international cooperation. Further, it requested the Secretary-General to ensure the widest possible dissemination of relevant material, particularly relating to Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), on women, peace and security.By an orally revised consensus text on eliminating maternal mortality and morbidity through the empowerment of women, the Commission urged global and national leaders to generate the political will, resources, commitment, cooperation and technical assistance urgently required to reduce that phenomenon, and improve maternal and newborn health. It called on States to address gender inequalities and harmful traditional practices, and further, to integrate HIV/AIDS interventions into programmes for primary health, sexual and reproductive health, and mother and child health.
Among other things, States were urged to strengthen health systems for women and girls through financing, as well as procurement and distribution of medicines, vaccines, commodities and equipment; implement comprehensive gender-sensitive poverty eradication strategies; and maximize resources for maternal health.By a consensus resolution on strengthening the institutional arrangements of the United Nations by consolidating the four existing offices into a composite gender entity, the Commission recognized the United Nations significant role in promoting those issues and welcomed General Assembly resolution 63/311 (2009), notably its provisions on strengthening the institutional arrangements for support of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Commission also adopted by consensus an orally revised text on ending female genital mutilation, by which it welcomed the appointment of the Special Representative on violence against children, and stressed that the empowerment of women and girls was key to protecting all human rights, including that to the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health. Among other things, it called on States to mobilize girls and boys to help create programmes to prevent and eliminate harmful traditional practices, and to take all necessary measures -– including enacting and enforcing legislation -– to prohibit female genital mutilation. It urged States to complement punitive measures with education activities to promote consensus towards eradicating harmful practices like female genital mutilation, and take targeted measures for refugee women and women migrants.
Adopting an orally revised consensus text on women, the girl child and HIV and AIDS, the Commission urged Governments and other stakeholders to take all steps to empower women and girls to protect themselves against HIV infection. In that context, Governments were encouraged to address the challenges of older women and those with disabilities in accessing HIV treatment; ensure affordable access to and supply of condoms; and rapidly scale up programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission, in accordance with the call by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to eliminate such transmissions by 2015.By other terms, it urged Governments to enhance health-care services and step up efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls in relation to HIV/AIDS. Governments, donors and relevant United Nations entities were urged to prioritize HIV-response programmes and streamline funding processes towards that end.
By an orally revised consensus resolution on women’s economic empowerment, the Commission called on States to incorporate gender perspectives into social and economic policies and address the extent to which policies, programmes and activities actively dealt with the needs, priorities and contributions of women and men.Among its provisions, the Commission called on States to apply a systematic approach to accelerate women’s full participation in economic decision-making and ensure that a gender perspective was mainstreamed into economic and development policies and social safety net and poverty eradication programmes. States and other stakeholders were urged to strengthen policies to enhance the employability of women and ensure their access to full employment; promote women’s participation in high-level management; adopt measures to promote equal pay for equal work; and undertake legislative, administrative and financial measures to create a strong environment for all women entrepreneurs.
In other business, the Commission decided to transmit the moderator’s summary of the high-level round table discussion on “Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly and its contribution to shaping a gender perspective in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals” (document E/CN.6/2010/CRP.5) to the Economic and Social Council’s 2010 Annual Ministerial Review. Similarly, it decided to transmit the summaries of four panel discussions (documents E/CN.6/2010/CRP.6, E/CN.6/2010/CRP.7, E/CN.6/2010/CRP.8 and E/CN.6/2010/CRP.9) to the 2010 Review. It took note of other panels, entitled “Commemorating 30 years of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, “Unite to end violence against women”, and “The evolving status and role of national mechanisms for gender equality”.
The Commission also took note of three other documents under agenda item 3: the Secretary-General’s report on release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts (document E/CN.6/2010/5); the Secretary-General’s report on the joint work plan of the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (document A/HRC/13/70-E/CN.6/2010/7); and a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on the activities of the Fund to eliminate violence against women (A/HRC/13/71-E/CN.6/2010/8).Finally, Vice-Chair-cum-Rapporteur Leysa Sow ( Senegal) presented the Commission’s draft report on its fifty-fourth session (document E/CN.6/20010/L.10), which contained information on the organizational part of the session and which would be updated as required. Proceedings of today’s meetings would be reflected in a final report.
Rounding out the day, Rachel Mayanja, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, and Commission Chairperson Garen Nazarian ( Armenia) delivered closing remarks.After the conclusion of the fifty-fourth session, Chairperson Nazarian declared open the fifty-fifth session. Following the resignation of Roberto Storaci ( Italy), Takashi Ashiki ( Japan) and Julio Peralto ( Paraguay) from their positions as Vice-Chairs, delegates elected Filippo Cinto ( Italy) and Maria Luz Melon ( Argentina) as Vice-Chairs of the Commission.
The formal appointment to fill the post left vacant by Mr. Ashiki’s resignation would be made when the Commission held its next meeting, in 2011. The Committee decided, on the Chair’s proposal, that upon nomination by the Asian States Group, the nominee would be permitted to participate fully in the Bureau’s work.
The Commission on the Status of Women met today to take action on several draft resolutions under its agenda item 3, entitled “Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, and to the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, ‘Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century’”.
First, the Commission considered a resolution entitled Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned in armed conflicts (document E/CN.6/2010/L.3).Speaking before action, Azerbaijan’s delegate, as a main sponsor of the text, said several open-ended informal consultations had been convened, which had created an opportunity for dialogue among all interested delegations. The draft included elements of General Assembly resolution 63/183 (2009) on missing persons. The text stressed the need for addressing those women and children as a part of peace processes. He hoped it would be adopted by consensus.
The Commission then adopted that resolution by consensus.
Next, the Commission turned its attention to a resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2010/L.4).
Speaking before the vote in a general statement, Israel’s delegate expressed dismay at the consideration of the present resolution. Rather than address the countless issues women faced, the Commission had been forced to consider a resolution of those who wished to impose their agenda on the Commission. That ignored the needs of countless other women, none of whom had blocs to lobby on their behalf.
The text singled out Israel, she said, while no other geographical resolution had been brought before the Commission. Such politicization was seen in the fact that the Beijing Platform for Action refrained from mentioning any regional conflicts. If the draft was truly intended to help Palestinian women, it would include all challenges confronting them. For example, the Secretary-General’s December 2009 report noted that some Palestinian women were killed as result of “honour killings”. A previous report of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on forced prostitution of Palestinian women and girls had also raised alarming concerns.
She said the draft also failed to mention the deteriorating situation of women as result of terrorist policies imposed by Hamas. Palestinian women in Gaza were systematically being denied their inheritance rights, another report had found. The draft resolution chose to politically scapegoat Israel and, as such, her delegation suggested that the States that submitted it acknowledge the damage done to women when endorsing a one-sided narrative. Israel would vote against the resolution and called on the Commission to do so as well. In closing, she urged standing firmly against consideration of such resolutions in the future.
The representative of Jordan said the thrust of the resolution was that in any given conflict women and children were most affected. The purpose of the draft was not to just discuss the plight of Palestinian women. He hoped that the text would be viewed in that light and supported.Explaining his vote before the vote, the representative of the United States said his country supported Palestinian women in several ways to create environments that enabled them to lead. The United States strongly supported the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and was its largest donor. The United States had also called on Israel to open borders to enable Palestinians to live productive, healthy lives. Through good-faith negotiations, the parties could mutually agree on an outcome that ended the conflict. The current text, however, sought to insert the Commission into permanent status issues, such as refugees, which should be the purview of the two negotiating parties. For that reason, the United States would vote against it.
Next, by a recorded vote of 31 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States), with 10 abstentions ( Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Togo), the Commission approved that resolution. (See annex for details of the vote.)
Speaking after the vote, Japan’s delegate said she was concerned at the critical situation of Palestinian women and expressed hope that their situation would be significantly improved by international assistance. She had hoped to see a text accepted by various States, but, because the draft could have been more balanced, Japan had abstained from voting. Nonetheless, Japan would continue its strong support to improve the situation of Palestinian women.Egypt’s representative, speaking in general statement after the vote, said everyone would prefer not to differentiate between Palestinians and others, but that should not come at the expense of Palestinians’ rights. To the point made about Palestinian women’s inheritance, he said Palestinians had nothing left to inherit. Palestinian women had problems crossing lines to reach a doctor -- they waited at inspection points for hours. That compromised all human rights.
The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations expressed her gratitude to all States that had supported the resolution. Resolutions remained necessary in light of the ongoing need for international services and the grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Today’s resolution was especially important, as Palestinian women bore the brunt of Israel’s illegal policies. Adherence to international law could only promote peace efforts, and not undermine them. Such respect would truly bring about a change on the ground and in the negotiating environment. She would not respond to the “absurd” comments by Israel’s delegate, but rather point out that nothing effected Palestinian women more than a 43-year-old occupation by Israel. The Israeli representative should be more concerned about the actions of her Government to create conditions for peace.
In that context, she recalled that, just after the announcement to resume indirect talks, Israel had announced the construction of 1,600 new settlements in East Jerusalem. That was the real obstacle to peace. She looked forward to a day when Palestine did not have to put forward resolutions, but in light of Israeli activities, her delegation would look to the United Nations to help protect those most in need.Gabon’s representative said her delegation had backed the resolution, but her country’s vote had not been recorded.
The Commission’s Secretary said that comment would be reflected in the Commission’s report.The representative of the United States then introduced a text on eliminating maternal morality and morbidity through the empowerment of women (document E/CN.6/2010/L.6). She said it addressed a subject of grave concern. Millennium Development Goal 5, on maternal mortality, was the Goal least on track at the moment. The resolution called for increased political will to tackle maternal mortality. It underscored the importance of guaranteeing all of women’s human rights, including sexual and reproductive health rights. It also called for evidence-based interventions to eliminate the problem worldwide.
The representative of Jordan recommended that the resolution include the input of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which had a general comment on the right to health, including reproductive health, and maternal mortality.The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations said that abortion was not a part of reproductive health-care rights and inclusion of it violated the language of the International Conference on Population and Development. She would continue to advocate for the life of mothers and unborn children.
Acknowledging the Jordanian representative’s request, the representative of the United States said it would be difficult to take on board a new suggestion at this time.The representative of Norway, also speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom, said that, despite progress in women’s rights in the past 15 years, more than half a million mothers still died annually from preventable causes. Bold, focused and coordinated health care was needed to achieve reproductive and maternal health-care targets. To eliminate preventable maternal mortality, full health-care access and reproductive health-care rights were needed, including family planning and prenatal and postnatal care, as well as reducing the recourse to abortion. Access was needed to family planning services and training for health-care providers to ensure that, in countries where abortion was legal, the procedure was safe and accessible.
The representative of New Zealand said preventable maternal mortality was a human rights issue. The International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action provided the most comprehensive blueprint for achieving the maternal mortality target, but Millennium Development Goal 5 had seen the least progress. Welcoming the text, she said political will was the answer to reducing maternal mortality. Progress must be made in that regard.
The representative of Cuba said the Beijing Platform was the path to address women’s rights. Cuba would continue to work for women’s full empowerment. She stressed the need to continue international cooperation to scale up resources and ensure implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.
Ireland’s delegate expressed deep concern at the high global levels of maternal mortality, and especially that Millennium Development Goal 5 [on maternal mortality] was the least likely to be achieved. For its part, Ireland had held a high-level side event on the theme of maternal mortality and overcoming barriers to achieving Goal 5. Regarding the resolution’s preambular paragraph 14, it was Ireland’s understanding that the reference to sexual and reproductive health services be clearly understood in context of the World Health Organization (WHO) framework.Poland’s delegate said her Government understood the reference to reproductive and sexual rights and services in the resolution as not constituting an encouragement of abortion.
Malta’s representative said that while his delegation was not a Commission member, it had participated in good faith in negotiations on the draft. Malta was motivated mainly by the fact that maternal mortality affected all United Nations Member States. Malta had a reservation on the use of the terms in the resolution on reproductive health and rights, and any references related to them. Malta did not accept any recommendations by the Commission to consider abortion a legitimate form of family planning or other services.He said Malta reserved its position on “unsafe abortion”, as it implied that abortions could be free of any physical or psychological risks and ignored the rights of the unborn. Malta was committed to the overall goal of the text, but had reservations about various phrases contained therein.
Chile’s representative cited the high death rate among pregnant women around the world, mainly in developing countries. Chile supported help for mothers and children and had sponsored actions in that regard in 2008. Chile appreciated the resolution’s content, as long as that did not imply an endorsement of abortion.Saint Lucia’s delegate said mothers continued to die from preventable causes, and their health must be placed first in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. She reiterated that efforts should be placed on providing assistance to most affected regions. References to reproductive health services and rights did not refer to the promotion of abortion. She reserved her country’s position on the use of the term “safe abortion”.
Denmark’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Sweden and Finland, stressed that maternal mortality was a critical problem that must be addressed. He fully agreed that more political will and resources were needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and he was pleased at references in the text to family planning and reproductive rights, and to a WHO report on unsafe abortions. His delegation would have wished to have seen a more comprehensive reference to reproductive rights and a fuller reflection of advancements in that area since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. He looked forward to further discussions on that issue.
The representative of Mali said her country had undertaken measures to reduce maternal mortality, including through programmes to fight malaria and HIV/AIDS. Her Government was assisted in efforts to combat maternal mortality by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She endorsed the resolution as part-and-parcel of such programmes.Iran’s representative said his country had made significant progress in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity in the last three decades. He reiterated that all activities related to reproductive health, including education, should take into account the ethical and moral values of each country, and that the resolution did not establish any new rights beyond those that already existed.
The Commission then adopted the resolution by consensus, as orally revised.
The representative of Egypt than introduced a resolution entitled strengthening the institutional arrangements of the United Nations for support of gender equality and the empowerment of women by consolidating the four existing offices into a composite entity (document E/CN.6/2010/L.7). She said it was a political statement of the will of Member States to support system-wide coherence of all United Nations entities mandated to work towards gender equality. It reflected the United Nations important role to achieve that priority target of gender equality and women’s empowerment, as set out in the Beijing Declaration and Platform. It reaffirmed Member States’ commitment to put women front and centre.The representative of Norway said that, in adopting the text, which had more than 181 co-sponsors, the Commission would confirm that strengthening United Nations institutions was a truly universal objective. That clear message from Member States should inspire and boost ongoing negotiations of the General Assembly to set up an entity by the end of the current Assembly session.
The Commission then adopted that text by consensus.
Afterwards, the representative of Yemen, speaking on behalf of the Joint Coordinating Committee of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the Non-Aligned Movement, the text’s main sponsor, said the text symbolized the sponsors’ commitment to gender equality and the role of the United Nations to better enable its system to help Member States achieve it by consolidating its gender entities into one composite body. The work of the entity should take into account national traditions and cultural and religious backgrounds, and be guided by the principle of universality. The United Nations response must be in accordance with national needs, and thus, priorities should be set by national focal points. The entity’s operational activities should be governed through a new executive board. He called on the Commission’s members to consider the suggestions put forth by the Joint Coordinating Committee.
Equatorial Guinea’s representative introduced, on behalf of the African Group, a resolution on ending female genital mutilation (document E/CN.6/2010/L.8), saying that female genital mutilation was an irreparable abuse that placed more than 3 million girls at risk. Numerous appeals to end that abuse had emerged from national, regional and international forums, and through various resolutions, including General Assembly resolution 60/141 (2005).He said there were also declarations, including the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as protocols, such as the 2003 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on the Rights of Women in Africa. There were also recommendations, including that adopted at the Second Pan-African Forum for Children, which urged a female-genital-mutilation-free Africa. Such appeals were more than sufficient to justify that a more specific resolution, such as today’s text, received significant backing. He urged all Member States to firmly support and co-sponsor the draft, so that it would be universally adopted.
The Secretary asked the representative of Equatorial Guinea to clarify whether he wished to add oral revisions to the text or read a list of additional co-sponsors.Equatorial Guinea’s delegate then deferred to the United Republic of Tanzania’s delegate, the facilitator, to introduce revisions to the draft.The United Republic of Tanzania’s delegate then read the series of oral revisions.
[The new draft was distributed in the room, with the changes to the text clearly marked, in both the preambular and operative sections.]The Secretary noted that the resolution might have programme budget implications.
The Commission then adopted the text by consensus, as orally revised.The representative of Namibia introduced a resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS (document E/CN.6/2010/L.2/Rev.1), saying it highlighted major factors, such as eliminating mother-to-child transmissions of HIV by 2015, as well as the need for commitments by Member States to reverse the spread of HIV by 2015, as outlined in the Millennium Summit outcome document. It referred to voluntary testing and counselling for HIV. But that was not enough to reverse the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Government health-care services must be improved.
The Commission then adopted that text, as orally revised.
After the action, the representative of Iran said he supported the resolution, but said it must be interpreted within the context of national law. Action concerning HIV/AIDS must be guided by moral values.Next, the representative of Colombia introduced the draft on women’s economic empowerment (document E/CN.6/2010/L.5). He said economic empowerment was a key factor in achieving all of women’s human rights. The lack of empowerment in the social field put women at risk for violence. He went on to detail the text’s references to a wide range of issues concerning women, such as their participation in all levels of decision-making, land and property rights, violence against women, their access to education and health, the plight of rural women, discrimination in the workplace, unequal access to economic and financial resources, and mechanisms to assist women during the economic crisis.
The Secretary noted that the resolution might have programme budget implications.The Commission then adopted the resolution, as orally revised, by consensus.
After the action, the representative of Cuba lauded the fact that the revised text had incorporated language on the importance of sustainable economic development, poverty eradication and fulfilling the Beijing commitments as the necessary preconditions for economic empowerment of all women based on overall macroeconomic development. She was pleased that several of Cuba’s proposals had been included in the text, such as the reference to official development assistance (ODA). Despite those favourable aspects, she regretted that, owing to the opposition of two delegations, it had not been possible to include a reference to the obstacle to equal empowerment of women living under foreign occupation.
The representative of Venezuela regretted that it had taken so long to adopt the resolution. She lauded the fact that a comprehensive view of women’s empowerment had been included, but she regretted the insistence of many delegations to politicize the resolution. She too noted that two delegations had been opposed to including language on the situation of women living under foreign occupation or colonial domination. That was unfortunate; such language should have been taken into account.In closing remarks, RACHEL MAYANJA, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, said that, during the session, representatives of Member States, civil society and the United Nations had held lively discussions on a broad range of subjects within the framework of the Platform for Action. There had been high expectations for the Commission to make 2010 a year of accountability for gender equality and women’s empowerment. There had been calls to send a strong political message of recommitment to full and speedy implementation of the Beijing Platform and to shape gender perspectives for the upcoming high-level events of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.
The resolution adopted earlier in the day on the composite gender equality entity sent a powerful message that should galvanize all Member States to take action to consolidate the four women-specific entities, so that the Organization could better support national achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment, she said. Action was needed to give girls training and access to education, to empower women who risked death and disability in childbirth and those who worked long hours for little, unequal or no pay. “We must commit ourselves to ensuring a place for women at the peace table, on the village council and in national parliaments. By ensuring equal opportunities for women and men, we promote the progress of our entire society,” she said.She called on all Member States to carry the commitments from the Commission into forthcoming intergovernmental processes at the United Nations and in their respective ministries of finance, economic planning, education, health, environment and others. Local and municipal authorities, parliaments, the private sector and civil society must also be involved in turning commitments into concrete action.
Commission Chairperson GAREN NAZARIAN ( Armenia) thanked all participants and gave a recap of the session. He said the moderator’s summary on the session would be posted on the website of the Division for the Advancement of Women. He called on all to move from commitment to action. The time for action was now.
ANNEXVote on Situation of Palestinian Women
The draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2010/L.4) was approved by a recorded vote of 31 in favour to 2 against, with 10 abstentions, as follows:In favour: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Eritrea, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russian Federation, Senegal, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Zambia.
Against: Israel, United States.
Abstain: Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Togo.
Absent: Gabon, Rwanda.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010
Elisabeth Newman, VP, and Cosima Schenk, President, International Council of Women
The 55th session: the priority theme will be “Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work” and progress will be evaluated in the implementation of the agreed conclusions from the fifty-first session on “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child."
Jennifer Lynch, Chair of the Canadian Human Rights Commission presenting proposal that Human Rights Commissions have an independent role to the CSW.
This was the last session for me - it was in Conference Room 1, and included representatives from many countries, plus the NGOs. There were 3 panelists (experts), plus the chair, Mr. Takashi Ashiki, Vice-Chair of CSW (Japan)
The 3 panelists were Ms. Rounaq Jahan, Senator Margaret Mensah-Williams (she was a riot!) and Ms. Mary Rusimbi. Their papers are available at http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing15/ievents.html
Canada played a role in this session -
Jennifer Lynch, Canadian Chief Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke about support for independent status for Human Rights Commissions, rather than being part of a country's delegation. The would be strategic partners. Want independent status This would include many benefits. We all agree on importance of national human rights. Joint statement -Ms. Lynch presented this proposal on behalf of many countries, including Australia, and European countries.
The panel presented on the type of structure for national machineries, focal points at local, or national institutions. Mandate - generally gender mainstreaming. In Europe - incorporated - Financial and human resources. Both from top leadership and broad based support. Instruments, strategies - mainstreaming, programs, priorities, violence, Trafficking, women's health, Coordination very weak. No clear mandate. Budget constraints. Identified achievements - legal, women's representation. Growth of machinery, information exchange. Constraints, Donor reliance, limited collaboration. Lack of political will, social conservatives, first ladies. How we can sustain political will.
multiplicity of structures is positive.
- coordination is weak.
- resources do not match their mandate.
- gender mainstreaming, but still no understanding
- special measures has improved womens participation
- legal - most used
- accountability is weak
- collaboration - strain national mechanism.
- international - supports exchange
- multiple actors influence what's going on on the ground.
Senator from Namimbia presented her personal experiences --she was well received. She has introduced important legislation - domestic and rape act. She learned from older women - today in parliament - women without women can't do much - role of institutional mechanizations - gender committee - gender sensitize all members of parliament. have votes with out women lose votes. Women coming thru war, assisting them. All elected women's forum. Didn't know how to preside. For a women to rule, can be intimidating.
Gender mainstreaming - well acknowledged strategy, need for assessing, programs, and policies. Need to see if whatever focusing on impacts on women and men.
Strategy to assess budgets, programs and policies, to deal with men and women's need.
Gender mainstreaming concept that enables us to make transformative changes. Gendermainstraming a great strategy, and gender responsive budgeting well used.
We need to support national machineries. Fact when setting - where do we place gender responsive budgeting. We are missing the boat, minister of women, not doing budgeting, minister of finance does it. But should take minister of budgeting, and finance - to be able to influence the ministers, Minister of Women becomes a resource. . Turned into fund raisers. How sustainable this approach is? Gathering information - sex aggregated data. or influencing gender relevant data - that supports budgeting. Need to have enabling environment.
Jennifer Lynch, Canadian chief commissioner for human rights - support for independent status - strategic partners. Want independent status, not as part of government delegation. ICC would include many benefits. Agreed on importance of national human rights. Joint statement - HRC of Canada, Australia, etc. to recognize the formal role of independent HRCs. Consider independent status.
ACPD - gave a statement supporting strong national machineries to support women, and enforce legislation, and policies.