Press Releases

    24 June 2002

    Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Concludes Twenty-Seventh Session

    Country Reports of Seven States Parties Considered; Provisional Agenda for Extraordinary August Session, Twenty-Eighth Regular Session Adopted

    NEW YORK, 21 June (UN Headquarters) -- At the conclusion of its three-week session this afternoon, having considered reports of seven States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the monitoring body of that human rights instrument made recommenda- tions for the advancement of women in Belgium, Denmark, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Tunisia, Ukraine and Zambia. (The delegation of the Republic of the Congo, which was also scheduled to present its case, was unable to attend.)

    Opinions and considerations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women -- the only international treaty body that deals exclusively with women's rights -- are to be included in its final report for the twenty-seventh session (from 3 to 21 June), which was adopted today. Among the main issues addressed by the Committee during its deliberations were: women's access to decision-making; the situation of rural women; means of overcoming negative traditional stereotypes; women's health; their access to education; discrimination within the family and in the labour market; and special measures to advance gender equality.

    In her concluding remarks, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, Angela E.V. King, summarized the work of the session, saying that the constructive dialogue between the experts and Government representatives provided a framework for better implementation of the Convention at the domestic level -- not only in the countries reviewed, but in all State parties to the Convention. In addition to its work on the reports, the Committee had also made significant improvements in its working methods, which would allow it to make best use of the limited session time. The highlight of the session, in her opinion, was an informal meeting of States parties, which had taken place last Monday. Representatives of 86 States had attended the meeting. She was glad that a similar informal meeting with non-States parties was being planned for the twenty-eighth session in January 2003.

    Among other achievements during the session, she mentioned new reporting guidelines for countries and a strategy to encourage States to submit overdue reports, as well as a modified format for the Committee's concluding comments.

    The Committee had also made several decisions on the report of the Optional Protocol Working Group as far as cooperation between the Division and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was concerned, in such areas as potential communications, processing of communications and outreach and research. She was confident, she said, that many communications would be received as soon as the typical time needed to exhaust the domestic remedies had elapsed.

    [The Optional Protocol to the Convention, which entered into force on 22 December 2000, enables the Committee to consider petitions from individual women or groups of women who have exhausted national remedies. It also entitles the Committee to conduct inquiries into grave or systematic violations of the Convention.]

    Committee Chairperson Charlotte Abaka (Ghana) said that the Committee had again brought another successful session to an end. Each session of the Committee had something specific, and this had been an interesting session. In addition to the varied reports before it, the Committee had had a wonderful meeting with the States parties. She was happy with the outcome of that meeting. It was important that the Committee look into new ways to publicize the Convention, to make the work of the Committee widely known and to encourage States parties to send their reports. One of the greatest outcomes of that encounter was the understanding that presenting a report was not sitting in front of a tribunal. She and the other members attending the Geneva inter-committee meeting would bring the good spirit that existed in the Committee to Geneva.

    Also this afternoon, the Committee approved its provisional agenda for the next -- extraordinary -- August session and the regular twenty-eighth session early next year. From 5 to 23 August, the Committee will have before it reports of 11 States parties, which have been awaiting review for some time. [Since 1997, the Committee has met twice annually. The decision to hold an extraordinary third session in 2002 was taken last year in order to reduce a backlog in reports, which are submitted by States parties in compliance with article 18 of the Convention.]

    Background on Committee

    The Committee is part of the United Nations human rights machinery monitoring implementation of major international conventions, which establish the legitimacy and global outreach of human rights in the economic, social and political spheres.

    The 23 experts of the Committee, who serve in their personal capacities, monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which came into force in 1981. In its 16 substantive articles, it provides a definition of discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end it. As of 24 May 2002, the Convention had been ratified or acceded to by 169 countries. One of the international human rights treaties with the largest number of ratifications and accessions, the Convention is also among those treaties with the highest number of reservations by States parties.

    States parties to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice. They are also committed to submit their initial reports on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations one year after becoming a State party, and subsequent reports at least once every four years thereafter. In addition to reviewing the reports and evaluating progress made in its concluding comments, the Committee formulates general recommendations on eliminating discrimination against women. It also receives information from United Nations specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

    Prior to the beginning of its latest session, the Committee had considered 116 initial, 84 second, 63 third, 28 fourth, and 7 fifth periodic reports. It had also received five reports on an exceptional basis -- Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), and Rwanda.

    The Committee has adopted 24 general recommendations covering such issues as women's economic position; the impact of structural adjustment policies; maternity leave; measures taken to allow women to combine child-bearing with employment; violence against women; the dissemination of the Convention and its provisions; and the extent to which NGOs have been incorporated into the process of preparing reports on the implementation of the Convention.

    States Parties to Convention

    As of 24 May 2002, the following 169 States had either ratified or acceded to the Convention: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of the Congo, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

    States Parties to Optional Protocol

    As of 24 May 2002, the following 40 States had either ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol of the Convention which entered into force on 22 December 2000: Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Senegal, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Thailand, Uruguay and Venezuela.

    Committee Membership

    The current members of the Committee, serving in their personal capacity, are: Charlotte Abaka, Ghana; Ayse Feride Acar, Turkey; Sjamsiah Achmad, Indonesia; Emna Aouij, Tunisia; Ivanka Corti, Italy; Feng Cui, China; Naela Gabr, Egypt; Françoise Gaspard, France; María Yolanda Ferrer Gómez, Cuba; Aída González Martínez, Mexico; Savitri Goonesekere, Sri Lanka; Rosalyn Hazelle, Saint Kitts and Nevis; Christine Kapalata, United Republic of Tanzania; Fatima Kwaku, Nigeria; Rosario Manalo, Philippines; Göran Melander, Sweden; Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini, South Africa; Frances Livingstone Raday, Israel; Zelmira Regazzoli, Argentina; Fumiko Saiga (Japan): Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling, Germany; Heisoo Shin, Republic of Korea; and Maria Regina Tavares da Silva, Portugal.

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