TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS CONDEMNED, AS THIRD
Every year, tens of thousands of women found themselves treated as commodities and brutalized far from their home countries, said the representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The IOM’s two-pronged approach to countertrafficking rested upon prevention and assistance. Prevention meant a better understanding of the nature of trafficking, its causes and manifestation, as well as the different methods and routes used by traffickers. Public information campaigns were also important and helped alert women to the ruses used by traffickers and the consequences for the victims.
Echoing that concern, the representative of Myanmar said victims of this form of slavery were primarily innocent women with dreams of jobs, salaries and better lives. As a national initiative, Myanmar had undertaken an awareness-raising campaign about the evils of trafficking through dissemination of pamphlets, videos, public media messages, and educative talks and workshops.
Women continued to be vulnerable to economic and social exploitation, particularly trafficking, said the representative of the Philippines. While legislative measures, prevention efforts and information campaigns had been undertaken at the national level, the complexities of the trafficking issue urgently required strengthening of bilateral, regional and international cooperation.
In the two meetings today, many delegations also raised the issue of widespread violence against women and stressed that impunity indicated disrespect for women as equal citizens in society. There was still a lack of women’s participation in political life, with the average percentage of women parliamentarians at 14 per cent of the total. Delegations also raised concern about the feminization of poverty and inequalities in education, employment and health, with particular focus on HIV/AIDS, which disproportionately affected women worldwide.
Also today, the Committee approved seven resolutions on matters related to crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control, four of which had been recommended for action by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). All the texts will be transmitted to the General Assembly for adoption later during the fifty-seventh session.
One of those texts would have the Assembly decide to hold a high-level political conference for the signing of the United Nations convention against corruption in Mexico by the end of 2003, when the elaboration of the instrument is expected to be completed. The Committee also approved the programme budget implications regarding servicing of the conference.
By another draft approved today on preparations for the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Assembly would decide that the main theme for the Congress -- set for 2005 -- would be "Synergies and responses: strategic alliances in crime prevention and criminal justice". It would also accept the offer of the Government of Thailand to host the Congress and would request the Secretary-General to initiate consultations with that Government.
Texts were also approved today on international cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime; on follow-up to the plans of action for implementation of the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice; on the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNIAFRI); and on strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity, and on International cooperation against the world drug problem.
Also speaking during the two sessions were the representatives of Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Algeria, Iceland, Swaziland, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Libya, Armenia, Netherlands, Jamaica, Jordan, India, Cyprus, Mongolia, New Zealand (also on behalf of Canada and Australia), United Republic of Tanzania, Kuwait, Chile, Nigeria, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Cambodia.
Also addressing the Committee were the observer of the Holy See, and representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the World Bank.
The representatives of Mexico, Italy, and India spoke as the Committee was taking action on the resolutions.
The representatives of Israel and Lebanon exercised their right of reply.
The Committee will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m. to conclude its consideration of the advancement of women.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its consideration of matters related to the advancement of women, including implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women and of "Women 2000", the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly.
The Committee was also expected to take action on a number of draft resolutions on items considered earlier in its session -- crime prevention and international drug control, and on issues relate to social development, including questions related to the world social situation.
Before the Committee is a draft resolution on International cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime: assistance to States in capacity-building with a view to facilitating the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto (document A/C.3/57/L.2). By that text, the Assembly would reaffirm its deep concern over the impact of transnational organized crime on the political, social and economic stability and development of societies.
It would, therefore, reaffirm that the adoption of the Convention and its Protocols would be a significant development in international criminal law, and that they constituted important instruments for effective cooperation against transnational organized crime. Further, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Centre for International Crime Prevention with the resources necessary to enable it to promote, in an effective manner, the entry into force and implementation of the Convention and its Protocols.
Another draft resolution is on a High-level political conference for the purpose of signing the United Nations convention against corruption (document A/C.3/57/L.3), by which the Assembly, mindful that negotiations on the draft convention are continuing in Vienna, and noting the progress made to date by the Ad Hoc Committee for the convention’s negotiation, would decide to convene such a high-level political conference in Mexico by the end of 2003. The Assembly would, therefore, urge the negotiating committee to endeavour to complete its work by the end of 2003.
Further, by the text, the Assembly would request the Centre for International Crime Prevention, which will act as secretariat for the high-level political conference, to work with the Government of Mexico to formulate proposals so that the conference could consider issues connected with the convention, in particular, follow-up activities for its effective implementation and for future work in the area of fighting corruption.
The Committee will aim to take action on a draft containing the proposed programme budget implications of this draft, contained in document A/C.3/57/L.11.
Another draft resolution, on follow-up to the plans of action for implementation of the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice: Meeting the challenges of the Twenty-first Century (document A/C.3/57/L.4), would have the Assembly invite governments and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to consider carefully and use the plans of action as guidance for formulating legislation, policies and programmes in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice at the national and international levels.
The Committee is to consider a draft resolution on preparations for the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/C.3/57/L.5), by which the Assembly would decide that the main theme for the Congress would be "Synergies and responses: strategic alliances in crime prevention and criminal justice". It would also accept with gratitude the offer of the Government of Thailand to host the Congress and would request the Secretary-General to initiate consultations with that Government and to report to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at its twelfth session.
Also by the text, the Assembly would suggest topics to be considered during the plenary of the Congress, including "effective measures against transnational organized crime", "economic and financial crimes: challenges to sustainable development", and "corruption: threats and trends in the twenty-first century". It would also suggest issues to be considered in the workshops within the framework of the Eleventh Congress, including "human rights in criminal justice", "cross-border law enforcement cooperation", and "measures against money- laundering".
By a draft resolution of the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/C.3/57/L.8), the Assembly would urge State members of the Institute to make every possible effort to meet their obligations to the Institute; call upon all Member States and non-governmental organizations to adopt concrete practical measures to support the Institute in the development of the requisite capacity to implement its programmes and activities, aimed at strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice systems in Africa.
By further terms of the text, the Assembly would also ask the Secretary-General to continue to deploy his efforts to mobilize the financial resources necessary to maintain the Institute with the core professional staff required to enable it to function effectively in the fulfilment of its mandated obligations. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to enhance the promotion of regional cooperation, coordination and collaboration in the fight against crime, especially in its transnational dimension, which cannot be dealt with adequately by national action alone. Finally, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to make concrete proposals, including the provision of additional core professional staff, to strengthen the programmes and activities of the Institute and to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-eight session on the implementation of the present resolution.
Also before the Committee is a four-part draft on International cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/57/L.9), by which the Assembly would express its grave concern that the drug problem is still a challenge of global dimensions, despite increasing efforts by States and international organizations. The Assembly, deeply alarmed by the violence and economic power of criminal organizations and terrorist groups engaged in drug-trafficking and other criminal activities, would urge competent authorities, at regional, national and international levels, to implement the outcome of its twentieth special session within agreed time frames.
Further, by the second part of the text, the Assembly would call upon States to adopt effective measures, including national laws and regulations, to strengthen national judicial systems to carry out effective drug control operations. By part three of the text, on action by the United Nations system, the Assembly would urge the relevant specialized agencies and programmes, including humanitarian organizations and international financial institutions, to include action against the world drug problem in their programming and planning processes to ensure that the integral strategy of the twentieth special session was being addressed.
By the fourth part of the text, the Assembly would request the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) to continue, among other things, to strengthen cooperation and dialogue with Member States, and to increase its assistance, within available voluntary resources, to countries that were deploying efforts to reduce illicit crop cultivation, and to take into account the outcome of the special session.
The Committee has before it another text on Strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular, its technical cooperation capacity (document A/C.3/57/L.10). By that draft, the Assembly would urge States and relevant international organizations to develop regional and international strategies and other necessary measures which complement the work of the Programme in effectively addressing the significant problems posed by the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons. It would also reaffirm the importance of completing the work of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Negotiation of a Convention against Corruption, and would urge the Committee to endeavour to finish its work by 2003.
NIDA NATALIE GARCIA (Philippines) said poverty eradication remained at the centre of her Government’s development efforts. The President had launched a Framework Plan for Women (2001-2004). It stressed the promotion of women's economic empowerment and was anchored in the Government’s overall poverty- reduction and development strategy. It also served as a guide for government agencies in the implementation of programmes and projects for women.
She said all forms of violence against women were a violation of their rights and dignity. Diligence at the national, regional and international level was needed to prevent such acts. Women and children continued to be vulnerable to economic and social exploitation, particularly through trafficking. While legislative measures, prevention and information campaigns were some of the efforts that had been taken at the national level, the complexities of the trafficking issues urgently required strengthening of bilateral, regional and international cooperation.
She said the success of the Asian Regional Initiative against Trafficking in Persons, which her Government had co-hosted in 2002, could not have been possible without partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as regional and international cooperation.
SONIA ELLIOTT (Guyana), on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that, since the adoption of "Women 2000" Programme, CARICOM States had assiduously sought to address persistent and emerging challenges that threatened equality, development and peace for women in the region. In addition to mainstreaming gender into key programme areas of the region, efforts to enhance women’s empowerment had led to the identification of five priority areas for greater attention -- health, education, poverty, violence and political participation.
She said that, in the field of health, the overwhelming focus had been on HIV/AIDS with messages specifically targeted at young people. HIV/AIDS disproportionately affected women worldwide. The rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean region had resulted in the region having the highest rate of the HIV virus globally, as well as the second highest rate of female infection.
In terms of education, she went on, although enrolment levels of girls exceeded those of boys in the Caribbean, greater attention was being paid to the quality of education, and the gender bias of educational material. Programmes also focused on whether the education system sufficiently prepared girls with the relevant skills required for the job market.
With respect to violence against women, the continuous acts of domestic and other forms of violence remained a source of great concern, she said. In the Caribbean, emphasis was being placed not only on the consequences on violence, but also the causes of violence. In response to the feminization of poverty, Caribbean countries had engaged in poverty-alleviation programmes, which included an increased number of pre-school and day-care centres, legal reforms, establishment of human resource development centres for skills training, and strengthening public assistance support mechanisms.
FARIDA BAKALEM (Algeria) said the Beijing Declaration, like the outcomes of "Women 2000" and other meetings and summits, were "future-oriented documents", aimed at achieving the development objectives outlined in the Millennium Declaration. The advancement and empowerment of women were chief among those goals. Indeed, everyone was aware that women, as well as children, were among those most vulnerable to the ravages of poverty. Many factors contributed to that situation, such as low levels of education and unequal access to health care and social services. In Africa, women also faced the devastating effects of the HIV/AIDS virus. It was vital, therefore, to continue to create development strategies that would give women the means to respond to their unique conditions and needs.
In Algeria, she continued, women actively participated at all levels of decision-making and politics, thus illustrating the country’s resolve to implement international agreements towards the empowerment of women and protection of the family. Algeria was also party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and was actively involved in international action on follow-up to the Convention.
The Government was also developing a vast national programme which could generate employment. Within that initiative, particular attention had been given to rural women. Efforts to enhance the lives and livelihoods of such women would focus on, among other things, the provision of loans and broader access to social services and reproductive health care. The country was also embarking on a strategy which would guarantee gender equality, making it possible to mainstream gender concerns at all levels, and ensuring better integration of women in all fields. Algeria continued to offer women all the best opportunities for development and focused efforts of their participation in political and social life.
GRETA GUNNARSDOTTIR (Iceland) said it was deeply disturbing that the international community remained so far from reaching commonly agreed objectives; there was still too much difference between words and deeds. The widespread violence against women and impunity indicated disrespect for women as equal citizens in their societies, she said. Trafficking in women -- a new form of slavery -- was on the increase. There remained a lack of women’s participation in political life, with the average percentage of women parliamentarians being 14 per cent and going all the way down to zero per cent in some countries. And finally, women were still paid less for equal work than their male counterparts.
Many initiatives had been taken by her Government to deal with the issue of violence against women, including rape. The capacity of the police to deal with such cases had been strengthened and care for rape victims, and their opportunity to seek redress, had been improved. In addition, she said, discussion of those issues was more open, and was focused to empower women and to transfer the stigma of some of those crimes from the victims to the perpetrators, where it belonged.
Iceland was working against the trafficking of women through a common campaign with the other Nordic countries and the Baltic States. The national campaign would focus on informing and increasing awareness among the public about the issue of trafficking.
NONHLANHLA Z. DLAMINI (Swaziland) said that Swaziland’s national policy on gender issues had recently been completed and presented for adoption. The process had involved consultations with major stakeholders, including traditional leadership, members of Parliament, the youth, people with disabilities, NGOs, and other members of civil society. The policy sought to address a wide range of pertinent issues, including equal participation of women in decision-making structures and in politics, as well as women’s civil rights, including the ownership and control of land, property and other resources. A process of law reform had also been initiated, with the aim of revising and renewing a number of laws, including the Marriage Act, the Deeds Registry Act and the Administration of Estate Act.
She said the Kingdom of Swaziland was committed to pursuing the goal of gender equality through the advancement and involvement of women in all aspects that enhanced human development. Swaziland had recognized the need to close the gender-gap in dealing with the effects of problems it was currently facing, such as poverty and HIV/AIDS. The Swazi people were steadily embracing a balanced socialization process in that regard. The first step had been taken; the major task was in progress -- that of ensuring that future generations did not have to deal with deciding whether gender inequality was correct or wrong.
DMITRY KNYAZHINSKIY (Russian Federation) said decisions of the past decade regarding the advancement of women, including at Beijing and "Women 2000", had highlighted the need to promote international cooperation in order to ensure the protection of women’s fundamental rights and freedoms. With that in mind, Russia had witnessed two disturbing trends.
There was an increasing tendency among some States to politicize the work of the Commission on Human Rights and to use the topic of women's rights to "settle accounts" and promote self-interest. This year, the Commission had failed to complete its work in the time allotted. He appealed to all interested States to ensure that matters related to the advancement of women were not use as a means of exerting political pressure.
Another disturbing trend was the duplication between the Human Rights Commission and the Commission on the Status of Women. Russia regretted that the Economic and Social Council this year had been unable to adopt a decision to put an end to such duplication. He noted that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women had examined Russia’s fifth periodic report on compliance with the related Convention. In order to increase awareness of the concluding remarks of the experts, and of the Convention itself, a special round table would be held with members of the Government and civil society. He added that one of the Committee's recommendations -- increasing women's participation in decision-making -- was already under way, with high-level appointments to the Presidential Commission on Human Rights and the Budgetary Office.
CHO JIN-WOO (Republic of Korea) said the global community was faced with unforeseen challenges and rapid changes in those initial years of the third millennium. Work remained to achieve gender equality and assuring women all over the world their human rights and dignity, in the face of persistent conflicts, the volatility of the economy, population ageing, poverty and HIV/AIDS. However, the Republic of Korea was convinced that the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of Women 2000 remained solid guides in efforts to empower women, achieve gender equality, and build a more peaceful, just and humane world.
For its part, she said, the Government of the Republic of Korea had continued to promote gender mainstreaming through its women's policies during the years following the Beijing World Conference on Women. The task had been twofold: to incorporate a gender perspective in public policy-making and implementation; and to increase women’s participation in many areas of public activities. The two lines of work, she said, were mutually reinforcing. Women as active participants and contributors, rather than passive recipients and beneficiaries, gave substance and reality to the gender perspective. The Government had also experimented with the different kinds of national machinery to advance women in society, which had resulted from the establishment of the Ministry of Gender Equality.
AHMED YAGOB (Libya) said poverty and low levels of development opportunity continued to lead to increased social disintegration and marginalization of women. Women were also most harmed by war and conflicts. Libya, which had long striven to ensure the promotion of women’s rights and freedoms, was convinced that the advancement of women could not happen in isolation from the social development of the entire society. Libya was concerned at the increased trafficking in women and girls, and hoped that the international community would work together at all levels with the United Nations to put an end to that scourge.
All forms of discrimination against women were unjustified. Women in Libya, he said, had reached the highest levels in all walks of life, particularly in decision-making. Women had entered fields that had previously been closed to them and could now bear arms.
He said it was an inescapable fact, sadly, that many countries -- particularly in Africa and in other developing and least developed countries -- had been unable to implement the outcomes of the major international summits on the rights of women, a trend that would continue without the help of the international community. Besides poverty and lack of funding, the crippling debt burden also led to increased poverty among women and impeded their progress towards their natural status in society. In addressing issues related to the protection of women and girls, he said, one could not fail to mention the grave crimes committed by the Israeli regime in the occupied Palestinian territories against women and girls.
DAW MAW MAW (Myanmar) said human trafficking had become a widespread phenomenon in many countries around the world. The victims were primarily innocent people with dreams of good jobs, salaries and lives. On the international level, the multidimensional nature of the trafficking problem required a cooperative effort. The Government of Myanmar cooperated with other countries in those efforts, she said. At the regional level, it had taken part in the United Nations inter-agency project aimed at reduction of trafficking in women and children in the Mekong subregion. At the national level, Myanmar had enacted the Child Law that protected children from exploitation, sale and abuse. In addition, wide sections of the Penal Code were devoted to addressing human trafficking. Myanmar also raised awareness of the evils of trafficking through the dissemination of pamphlets, video movies, public media messages, and educative talks and workshops.
She said another area of concern was the issue of violence against women. The Beijing Platform of Action had identified violence against women as one of the 12 core areas that must be addressed for the advancement of women. The Myanmar National Committee for Women Affairs had subsequently identified eight areas that were applicable for the advancement of Myanmar women. Those eight areas included education, health, economy, violence against women, girl child, culture, environment and the media.
MARINE DAVTYAN (Armenia) said the globalized nature of the world today highlighted the link between the advancement of women and the overall social and economic development process. Gender issues, which cross-cut many other urgent concerns, had been recognized as an integral part of the global development agenda. But despite notable progress achieved in identifying gender perspectives in the outcomes of major conferences and meetings of the past decade, the rights of women had yet to be universally guaranteed. In many part of the world, women still suffered political, economic and social discrimination. The gap between declaration and implementation was growing wider and wider.
She said equal rights between men and women had been established by law in Armenia. Armenia was party to the Convention to eliminate discrimination against women, and was committed to the implementation of its principles. Gender problems in the country were not so much social, but legal, and, in that regard, the activities of women NGOs had been crucial in articulating concerns unique to women, as well as raising public awareness to the need to change existing gender stereotypes. Armenia was aware that many challenges remained, particularly because despite the existence of a highly educated and skilled female workforce, women made up the majority of the number of unemployed persons. With that in mind, the Government would continue to work for the betterment of women, but it was clear that 10 years of independence had not been sufficient to solve all of the problems of Armenia’s painful transition period, devastating earthquakes, refugees, economic blockade and other difficult circumstances.
O’NEIL FRANCIS (Jamaica) said that, since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration, much progress had been made in the advancement of the role of women, both on a national and international level. Jamaica welcomed the integration of a gender perspective in recently held conferences and summits in Monterrey, Madrid and Johannesburg, as well as in the Millennium Declaration. However, disparities remained, particularly in the areas of health, education and employment. There was an urgent need for improved policy responses at all levels addressing the social, cultural, economic and political disadvantages suffered by women. He believed that governments must also ensure that the difficulties faced by women must be explicitly recognized in decision-making, policies and legislation.
Jamaica believed that the feminization of poverty must be a primary consideration in the advancement of women. The disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on women must also be addressed. Consideration must also be given to violence against women, community initiatives and micro-credit schemes. Only comprehensive action could help address the problem of gender inequality effectively. He concluded by stressing the need for the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), and regretted its financial difficulties. He called upon Member States to ensure the Institute’s survival.
JIKKY DINCELEK-LETTINGA (Netherlands) said global actors should develop a new framework to consider gender issues -- "The Framework of Quality". Such a framework, she said, would be grounded in the notion of respect for diversity and would promote the notion that women wished to use their qualities, that society needed those qualities, and that what women really wanted was the opportunity to make their own diverse and valuable contributions.
In order to promote the notion of women's empowerment, she added, that framework would need a concrete tool to ensure its facilitation. Resources, access and opportunities would, therefore, have to be provided for women.
All of that would require a different way of thinking, she continued. Recognizing diversity would create a climate in which every person could develop his or her talents and contribute optimally to society. Diversity should be seen to include respect for matters beyond gender, including religion, age, experience, health, sexual preference and social class. The "standard" would no longer be the "heterosexual, married, middle-aged man with invisible children", she said. Differences would not be seen as problems, but acknowledged as opportunities to explore the creativity of all people.
Ms. SAMARA (Jordan) said the Government of Jordan had always sought to protect all members of society, including women. The Government had paid great attention to the advancement of women in society. Specialized centres had been established which aimed to develop the skills of Jordanian women in all fields. There were also many volunteer societies and national institutions which were dedicated to the empowerment of women and their cultural, political, social and economic rights. All people were equal under Jordan’s Constitution and National Charter. All discrimination against women was prohibited. The right of women to occupy political positions illustrated Jordanian women’s participation in political life.
Discrimination did not take place in Jordan. The laws, culture and religion prevented such acts. Discrimination had no place in Islam, which honoured woman as the backbone of the future and the family. Jordanian legislation was based on equality between men and women, and all legal loopholes had been removed, she said. Jordan had always played an active role in the field of international, regional and local action for the advancement of women. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories had negatively affected Palestinian women, and she called for the immediate return to the negotiation table.
MARY B. MAGUIRE, Observer for the Holy See, said the Holy See wanted to reiterate its support for the key elements of the Beijing Platform for Action: the recognition of human dignity; the dignity of women; the importance of strategies for development, including access to employment and equal payment, land and capital; the provision of basic social services; and ending violence against women. Catholic institutions -- schools, hospitals, and humanitarian agencies -- throughout the world continued to put words into action and continued to be major providers of basic social services to girls and women, especially in developing countries.
Development that ignored the inherent dignity of women and particularly the special contribution they made to their family and society would certainly reduce them to being solely instruments of economic means. Placing human beings at the centre of sustainable development and recognizing the particular role that women played could only be accomplished through the recognition and respect for their inherent dignity.
ROBERT G.PAIVA, of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said over the past decade, trafficking in human beings had become on of the most troubling growth trends in international migration -- a trend that disproportionately involved women. Every year, tens of thousands of women around the world suffered the fundamental abuse of free choice and basic human rights that was trafficking, finding themselves treated as commodities and brutalized far from their home countries. The IOM had made the fight against trafficking one of the main pillars of its work.
The approach of the IOM to countering trafficking was twofold, building on its ongoing research and practical field experience, he said. The first objective was prevention. Prevention began with a better understanding of what trafficking was, with better data about its scope; and more information about its causes and manifestations, as well as the different methods and routes used by traffickers. An important part of prevention was public information campaigns, which helped alert women in countries of origin to the ruses and the channels used by traffickers, and the consequences for the victims. However, cooperation among
States to strengthen measures aimed at apprehending and convicting traffickers was key.
The second element of IOM’s approach was the provision of assistance, return and reintegration activities to benefit the victims of trafficking. He thanked donor countries for realizing the humanitarian needs of trafficked women.
Caroline LEWIS, Programme Assistant, International Labour Organization (ILO), said to reinforce the ILO's long-standing priority to promote employment growth and to contribute to the successful implementation of the Beijing Declaration, one of the agency's specific technical cooperation responses had been through the international programme on "More and Better Jobs for Women". That programme was assisting a number of countries in developing national action plans as part of their respective poverty eradication strategies. It also focused on the need to create an enabling social and economic environment for women's employment. Emphasis was placed on ratification and implementing of Conventions 100 and 111, on equal remuneration and discrimination, respectively, and she encouraged the formulation of policies that created job opportunities for women in micro and small enterprises and cooperatives.
She said ILO recognized that providing economic opportunities to women was one way of redressing the feminization of poverty. It was also aware that the negative effects of globalization and the increased informalization and precariousness of the labour market posed new challenges. Women accounted for 60 to 80 per cent of informal workers and, therefore, generally faced obstacles such as inadequate social protection, absence of rights at work, and gender constraints on ownership of property and income. The ILO continued to promote gender equality in trade unions where membership was low and had just completed a report on the role of trade unions in protecting valuable workers. The ILO also realized commitment at the highest levels of management was needed to ensure equality between men and women. To that end, the Action Plan on Gender Equality and Mainstreaming had been launched in 1999 to ensure that that issue was addressed throughout the agency's programming.
ENCHO GOSPODINOV, of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the Federation based its work on the specific vulnerabilities of individual in particular situations. As a result, mainstreaming gender in all its programmes and activities was a high priority. To this end, the Federation was developing tools, mechanisms and processes to support National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in their work. The situation of women and gender needed to be seen in the broader perspective of diversity.
The Federation was currently engaged in a major process of reorientation and change, in which those matters were seen as central and strategic issues. In that context, the Federation had developed specific targets for diversity and gender and was working on a plan of action to achieve them. The work carried out through the Federation would be of special relevance to the work of all governments and other international organizations, since it encompassed all cultures, religions and traditions.
Action on Drafts
The Committee began its work in the afternoon by taking action on a number of draft resolutions on crime prevention and international drug control.
It approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on International cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime: assistance to States in capacity-building with a view to facilitating the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto (document A/C.3/57/L.2).
Another draft resolution on a High-level political conference for the purpose of signing the United Nations convention against corruption (document A/C.3/57/L.3), along with its proposed programme budget implications contained in document A/C.3/57/L.11, was also approved without a vote.
The representative of Mexico welcomed the approval of the draft, and said his country, which would host the high-level conference, would be working in close consultation with Member States and relevant United Nations agencies on the organization of the conference, with a particular view to follow-up initiatives.
Another draft resolution, on Follow-up to the plans of action for implementation of the Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice: Meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century (document A/C.3/57/L.4), was approved without a vote, as was a text on Preparations for the Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document A/C.3/57/L.5).
Next, the Committee approved without a vote a draft resolution of the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (document A/C.3/57/L.8).
The draft resolution on Strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity (document A/C.3/57/L.10), was also approved without a vote.
Following the approval of the draft, the representative of India said the Secretary-General's relevant report, Strengthening the Terrorism Branch of the Secretariat (documents A/57/152 and Add.1), contained the concluding summary of the views of the Chairman of the Commission on Crime Prevention at an inter-sessional meeting and symposium held in Vienna in July. While that summary called for the transmission of the summary of the symposium and invited the Secretary-General to consider those proceedings when finalizing his relevant reports, India would dissociate itself from those references until a corrigendum was issued. India would, however, reiterate its strongest support for the Crime Prevention Programme and its Terrorism Branch.
The final draft before the Committee, on International cooperation against the world drug problem (document A/C.3/57/L.9), was also unanimously approved.
Advancement of Women
S.S. AHLUWALLA (India) said empowerment of women was critical to the nation, as it benefited all sectors of political life and socio-economic development, including in education, health and protection of the environment. On the report on the elimination of crimes committed in the name of honour, it had been alleged that there continued to be reports from India of so-called honour-killings of women. No report of "so-called" honour killings had been transmitted to the Government of India. The practice of honour-killings did not exist in India. While saying this, he affirmed that the Government of India would not be found lacking in political will to bring any perpetrators of such a crime to justice, if found in India.
In the report of the Secretary-General on trafficking in women and girls, he had been surprised to read that the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) was said to have "worked to ensure that the issue of trafficking is recognized". Again, such references were erroneous and misleading. Trafficking in women and children was a global phenomenon with transnational implications. Violence against women was a stain that blotted the world map. It respected no geographical or historical boundaries, and was found in all countries. It was an affliction that must be removed, through increased sensitisation, as well as by action and advocacy at the national level, and through increased international cooperation.
PENELOPE EROTOKRITOU (Cyprus) said gender equality remained a prerequisite for overall development and social justice, and Cyprus remained fully committed to fighting all forms of discrimination by, among other things, pursuing policies designed to lead to the creation of a gender-sensitive and educated society. Such a society would secure dignity and respect for all its members in compliance with the principles of equality and justice. Since its ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1985, Cyprus had launched a promising and dynamic programme of action which aimed to ensure gender equality and equal participation of women in all walks of life. That programme promoted the formulation of a gender-comprehensive legal framework based on both international legal instruments and gender-supportive domestic legislation.
Cyprus attached great importance to achieving gender equality for all citizens, she said. It was, therefore, deeply regrettable that, due to the lingering effects of the 1974 invasion, Cypriot women remained divided. It was also regrettable that, due to de facto partition of the island, the Government was prevented from applying the provisions of the international conventions and treaties to the women living in the occupied area. Not surprisingly, those women were at the forefront of efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem based on relevant Security Council resolutions. It was her hope that the barriers imposed by the forces of occupation and division would soon be lifted, thereby allowing all Cypriot women to enjoy their rights equally and to contribute to the national and international struggle towards the promotion of human dignity and development.
PUREVJAV GANSUKH (Mongolia) said the promotion of literacy must be placed at the heart of efforts for the advancement of women. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2000, some 113 million children, 60 per cent of whom were girls, had no access to primary schooling, and at least 880 million adults, 550 million of whom were women, were illiterate. Education was one of the most effective means of achieving gender equality and empowerment of women. In that regard, Mongolia believed that the United Nations Literacy Decade, which would start on 1 January 2003, would open a critical window for change. It was a chance to give further impetus to the commitments of Dakar and the Millennium Summit.
Challenges faced by women in Mongolia included complex interrelated problems in the domain of poverty, unemployment, education, health, social protection, culture and behaviour, he said. In order to meet those challenges, continuous efforts had been made by the Government in close cooperation with the main actors within society, including women’s NGOs, to forge genuine partnership between men and women, between the public sector, civil society and the private sector.
HEATHER WARD (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Australia and Canada, said this year the three countries would continue their practice of presenting a resolution calling for the improvement of the status of women in the United Nations system. Women’s equal participation played a pivotal role in the advancement of women, and it was, therefore, essential to ensure that women were appropriately represented in the United Nations. In order for this Organization to adequately reflect the needs and aspirations of more than 50 per cent of the world’s population, women must be able to participate equally and actively across the full range of the United Nations’ policy-making and operational departments and agencies.
Regrettably, there had not been a significant increase in the representation of women in the Secretariat and in other organizations of the United Nations system. The 50/50-gender distribution goal had not been achieved. Only four of the 24 departments and offices of the Secretariat had reached the gender balance goal. In another four departments, women accounted for less than 30 per cent. The number of United Nations agencies led by women had now fallen from six to three. Further determined efforts were needed to advance towards the goal of gender equality.
DISMAS N P. NGUMA (United Republic of Tanzania) said the achievements in the advancement of women in political life, education and employment in his country were mainly attributable to the political will of its leadership and the partnership that it had forged, with the civil society and the international community. In that regard, UNIFEM who had been crucial in reinforcing national capacity-building in a number of critical areas, including human rights, supporting gender-responsive bedgeting, and the elimination of violence against women, among others.
His Government was fully convinced that gender equality and non-discrimination were possible. Someone recently said that the most significant change of the past 30 years was not a technical innovation such as the personal computer; it was not even an ideological shift such as the conversion of most of the world to capitalism. Rather, it was the end, or at least the beginning of the end, of discrimination against women. The international community must stay focused on that very important goal in order to achieve the goals of the Millennium Declaration.
Ms. AL-SABA (Kuwait) said her Government was convinced of the need to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, and that principle was affirmed in the country's Constitution, which stressed the equality of both men and women. Women in Kuwait, whose numbers made up half the society, were able to participate at all levels. They also held a number of high-level posts, including as deans of universities and ambassadors. Turning to a draft on "crimes of honour" currently being negotiated by the Committee, she said her delegation was concerned that the text was very selective. Kuwait believed that any draft approved by the Committee must be exhaustive and comprehensive and must not target specific cultures, religions or civilizations.
She said women suffered violence and mistreatment despite a great number of instruments aimed at guaranteeing the protection and promotion of their rights. Kuwait would draw attention in that regard to the plight of the Palestinian women, who continued to suffer grave injustices due to the Israeli occupation. Kuwait would also applaud those women, who had, despite the deleterious effects of the occupation, been able to make limited progress. She called on the international community to ensure the promotion and protection of the fundamental rights of all women.
JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said his country had made considerable progress in the elimination of violence against women and the feminization of poverty. The State’s approach had been to address the problem of domestic violence through a national policy that had emphasized prevention and integral care for victims. It also sought to deal with the problem in an inter-sectoral manner. A tremendous effort had been made by the Government and by organizations of the civil society to promote greater public awareness among the population and to extend the campaign into new areas and territorial zones. Moreover, a policy of comprehensive care had been introduced in 2001 that placed emphasis on care for women victims of violence, for the men who used violence and for the children who suffered from violence and ill-treatment.
One of Chile’s main goals had been to overcome extreme poverty. Towards that end, his country had significantly reduced the percentage of poor women, from 26 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2000. In that connection, he mentioned two initiatives recently launched in Chile. The first programme was known as "Training women with limited resources, preferably women heads of households, for the labour market", and the second as the "Chilean solidarity system: full social protection for the poorest 225,000 families in the country".
Remaining challenges included ensuring better coordination between the budgetary allocations of the public services involved; promoting awareness among the business sector; and the insertion of women in jobs that had not traditionally been occupied by women.
ADEKUNBI A. SONAIKE (Nigeria) said women’s participation in decision-making processes, governance and effective participation in politics were finally receiving attention. Concerted efforts had also been made through policy, legal and institutional reforms, to address all forms of violence against women, particularly the trafficking in and sexual exploitation of women, which was universally acknowledged as a crime against humanity. The Government of Nigeria had, therefore, continued to fight against those traditional and religious practices which were harmful and constituted violations of the rights, equality and freedoms of women. In addition, the National Assembly had enacted legislation against female genital mutilation practices in Nigeria.
Poverty remained a primary cause of violence against women, she said. Despite international goodwill and commitment to development, more than half of humanity still lived in abject poverty, disease and ignorance. Added to poverty, foreign debt, and the negative effects of globalization, was the HIV/AIDS pandemic which compounded the problems of developing countries. It was hoped that donor countries would respond to the situation as it had severe implications for the lives of women and children around the world.
ANDALUSI ARISTAPUTRI (Indonesia) said her country recognized the crucial role women played in development, and to disregard women’s issues was to squander half the world’s human resources. Her Government was taking its own steps to mainstream gender issues through appropriate legislation and enforcement of that legislation. Indonesia would encourage fellow Member States to do the same to foster their own economic growth and social development. At the same time, Indonesia recognized that crushing poverty was an obstacle to development which required greater resources. Indeed, it was widely recognized that the rate of progress for the poorest countries could be substantially enhanced -- for the advancement of women, as well as achievement of other development goals -- with outside technical and financial assistance from global donors.
Indonesia was deeply concerned about trafficking in women and girls, she continued. That deplorable trend was not merely an issue of gender equality, but was one of the worst and most widely spread violations of human rights occurring today. It frequently turned women into commodities, objectified them and made them less than human. Global and regional cooperation was required to combat that scourge. Both the States of origin and destination for trafficked women must step up efforts to reduce trafficking, protect victims and prosecute offenders. Indonesia was strengthening its national legislation and law enforcement strategies in that regard. It was also working together with NGOs to strengthen data collection on trafficking cases, which was essential to the elaboration of effective policies.
MADINA JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan) said the Government of Kazakhstan had recognized that microcredit schemes for women’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, including in the rural areas, was important for enhancing the social and economic role of women in society. Since 1998, there had been about 40,000 microcredit programmes initiated in Kazakhstan, and about two thirds of the recipients were rural women. Taking into account the critical need to incorporate gender perspectives in national capacity-building efforts, the Government had, for the first time, allotted financial resources in the budget this year to support women’s enterprises.
Much had been done, but much remained to be done to improve the situation of women in Kazakhstan, he said. There was a clear need for equal representation of women at decision-making levels. There was a need to elaborate measures providing maximum access of women to credit and land resources. There was also a need to inculcate gender indicators into all State plans and programmes. Finally, there was a need to promote the work of non-governmental organizations dealing with issues of family and women and to support them through State grants. He concluded by stressing the support of Kazakhstan for the work of the United Nations in its path to achieve real gender equality and improve the status of women in the world.
THONG SOKUNTHEARY (Cambodia) said violence against women and trafficking were problems that transcended geography and nationality. A concerted international approach was therefore required to effectively address them. Cambodia would call upon fellow Member States to undertake more effective measures at the national level, including implementation of legal measures to tackle those problems as outlined in relevant international instruments and the outcome documents of the major United Nations summits and conferences of the 1990s.
On the situation of women in Cambodia, she said the country's Constitution stipulated the equal rights of all citizens. To raise awareness to and to further the attainment of equality between men and women in work, education and family matters, a female Minister had been appointed as Secretary of State for Women's Affairs after the election in 1988.
The Ministry had launched a campaign against all forms of violence against women and to protect women's rights, she continued. The Ministry enforced effective measures to combat and eliminate all kinds of discrimination against women based on age, sex or social conditions. Furthermore, the Cambodian National Council for Women had been set up with the Queen as its honorary president and the Prime Minister as its honorary Vice-President, to increase awareness of women's issues and to promote the National Programme of Action. Cambodia was fully aware that much remained to be done to attain the far-reaching goals and objectives of the Beijing Declaration and "Women 2000." With that in mind, her country looked forward to receiving substantial assistance, support and solidarity to improve and provide a better living for women and children.
CLARE FLEMING, of the World Bank, said gender-based inequalities hampered economic growth, and poverty reduction. While women and girls bore the largest and most direct cost of gender inequalities, these costs cut broadly across society and ultimately harmed everyone. Helping women and men become equal partners in development and giving them equal voice and access to resources were important development objectives in their own right. One central message had become clear -- ignoring gender disparities came at great cost to people’s well-being, to a country’s ability to grow and govern, to the effectiveness of development assistance, and to sustainable poverty reduction and development.
She said the Bank was focusing on implementing its promises concerning the Millennium Development Goals. It was redoubling its efforts to make gender equality central to its fight against poverty. Last year, the Bank had launched a new gender mainstreaming strategy, "Integrating Gender into the World Bank -- A Strategy for Action", which called for the bank to work with government, civil society and other donors, to diagnose the gender-related barriers to and opportunities for poverty reduction and sustainable development. Since the launch of the strategy, and building on the Monterrey Consensus, the Bank had undertaken a special initiative on gender and macroeconomic policy. That initiative was seeking to enhance capacity to integrate gender into dialogue on economic policy and relate operations.
Statements Exercising Right of Reply
The representative of Israel, in the exercise of a right of reply, said he wanted to respond to two remarks that had been made by Lebanon. First, Israel was not occupying Lebanese territory and had completed a full withdrawal in May 2000.
Lebanon, however, still had to implement its part of the Security Council resolution in ensuring its effective authority in the areas. If Lebanon was truly occupied, it was not by Israel, but another neighbouring country.
With regard to the "activist" Ms. Khaled, he said that she had been a member of the National Front for the Liberation of Palestine and had been involved in two plane hijackings and had been captured and released in a prisoner exchange. In an appearance this year on Al-Jazeera TV, she had insisted that women must take part in suicide bombings against Israel. Such people or terrorists were not to be held up as an example of good citizenship, he said.
In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Lebanon said the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon had not been completed, and it had taken Israel over twenty years to comply only marginally with the relevant resolution of the Security Council. There were indeed portions of Lebanon that were still occupied by Israel. Lebanon suffered terrorism at the hands of Israel and, among other things, its airspace was being violated on a daily basis. One only had to watch television or read the newspapers to understand that Lebanon was an occupied country. Lebanon took exception to Israel's suggestion that it was occupied by another country.
The representative of Israel, exercising his second right to reply, said that Lebanon was hosting Hezbollah -- one of the cruelest terrorist organizations. He added that Hezbollah continued its activities in southern Lebanon, and to this day, three soldiers and one civilian were being held hostage by Hezbollah.
In reply, the representative of Lebanon reminded the Committee that Hezbollah was considered by the people of Lebanon as a freedom movement for resistance against the occupation. Members of that group were members of Parliament and participated actively in political life. He added that Hezbollah had not taken prisoners outside of Lebanese territory.
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