Press Releases

                                        6 August 2004

    States Parties to Women’s Anti-Discrimination Convention Elect 11 Experts to Monitoring Committee

    NEW YORK, 5 August (UN Headquarters) -- In a secret ballot today, 175 of 177 States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women elected 11 of 23 experts to serve on the Committee that monitors compliance with the Convention, with experts from Italy and France commanding the greatest number of votes.

    The 11 experts, to serve in their individual capacities, will begin four-year terms on 1 January 2005. The new members were elected from a list of 25 candidates nominated on the basis of equitable geographical distribution and representation of the different forms of civilization, as well as of the principal legal systems. Before the States parties was a list of the candidates’ names and curriculum vitae (document CEDAW/SP/2004/3).

    The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women monitors implementation of the Women’s Anti-Discrimination Convention in those States that had ratified it or acceded to it. In addition, an Optional Protocol to the Convention empowers the Committee to consider communications received from individuals or groups of individuals alleging violations of the rights protected by the Convention.

    In just one round of voting this morning, the following persons were elected as Committee experts:  Mary Shanthi Dairiam (Malaysia); Magalys Arocha Dominguez (Cuba); Françoise Gaspard (France); Tiziana Maiolo (Italy); Silvia Pimentel (Brazil); Hanna Beate Schopp-Schilling (Germany); Heisoo Shin (Republic of Korea); Glenda P. Simms (Jamaica); Anamah Tan (Singapore); Maria Regina Tavares da Silva (Portugal); and Zou Xiaoqiao (China).

    The 12 members of the Committee who will continue to serve until their terms expire on 31 December 2006 are: Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani (Algeria); Dorcas Coker-Appiah (Ghana); Cornelis Flinterman (Netherlands); Naela Mohamed Gabr (Egypt); Hugeutte Bokpe Gnacadja (Benin); Salma Khan (Bangladesh); Rosario G. Manalo (Philippines); Krisztina Morvai (Hungary); Pramila Patten (Mauritius); Victoria Popescu (Romania); Fumiko Saiga (Japan); and Dubravka Simonovic (Croatia).

    To preside over today’s meeting, the Committee elected Nana Effah-Appenteng (Ghana) as Chairperson, as well as the following four Vice-Chairpersons: Abdul-Dayem M. Mubarez (Yemen), Asian States; Heleen Bakker (Netherlands), Western European and Other States; Andriy Nikitov (Ukraine), Eastern European States; and Marco Balerezo (Peru), Latin American and Caribbean States.

    Congratulating the new members, Mr. Effah-Appenteng, Chairperson, said that the Convention had established the guidelines critical for the advancement of women and enjoyment of their fundamental human rights. But, 25 years after its adoption, discrimination against women was still “rife”, as they continued to suffer avoidable challenges by virtue of their gender.

    He reminded States parties that they had undertaken the obligation to correct indifference to women, who played unique and important roles in societies and had contributed immensely over the years to economic growth and development. To ensure their full protection, States parties had the legal and moral obligation to support the commendable efforts of the Committee, which was providing guidance and monitoring the collective struggle for gender equality and justice.

    Also addressing the meeting, Carolyn Hannan, Director, Division for the Advancement of Women and Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, highlighted the strides made by the Committee since the States parties met last in August 2002. The Committee had made significant progress in implementing its major responsibilities under the Convention and its Optional Protocol. It had also enhanced its working methods.

    She noted that the Committee had established a working group on communications under the Optional Protocol. Based on its recommendation, and following registration of four communications, the Committee took action on the first communication at its last session in July. In the face of continued “serious constraints” in discharging its responsibilities in a timely and effective manner, the Committee requested the General Assembly to extend its annual meeting time. It, meanwhile, put in place incremental measures to encourage States to submit long overdue reports, and especially initial reports.

    Before the meeting concluded, the representative of Senegal said that the prevailing atmosphere during the balloting process had prompted him to express his regret on the record. There had been much talk today about principles, including equitable geographical representation, but the principle of the sovereignty of States had been violated.  He urged each delegation to do some “soul searching” so that they, too, could see that what had happened had not been fair.

    Detailed Summary of Division Director’s Statement

    Ms. Hannan said that, since the States parties last met in August 2002, the Committee had considered the reports of 32 countries and had adopted concluding comments with country-specific recommendations on further implementation of the Convention in the identified principal areas of concern. In all instances, the Committee had asked the reporting States to give wide publicity to those concluding comments, not only among public officials, but also to society at large, to ensure specific follow-up action. The Committee had also pointed to the critical role of parliamentarians in implementing the Convention and emphasized the important role of civil society, particularly women’s non-governmental organizations in the promoting women’s human rights. It had also urged States parties to cooperate more effectively with the non-governmental organizations in that regard.

    In addition, she said, the Committee had established a working group on communications under the Optional Protocol. That group met regularly either just prior to, or after, a Committee session. It considered communications received from individuals or groups of individuals, alleging violations of the rights protected by the Convention. So far, the working group had registered four communications and, based on its recommendation, the Committee took action on the first at its last session. At its twenty-eighth session, the Committee had initiated its work under article 8 of the Optional Protocol, relating to the inquiry procedure, and had continued that effort.

    At its thirtieth session, the Committee had successfully completed its work on general recommendation 25 concerning article 4, paragraph 1, on temporary special measures, she recalled. The use of article 4 continued to challenge many States parties. The Committee hoped that the general recommendation would contribute to a better understanding of the meaning of the article and, consequently, the effective use of such temporary special measures as part of a necessary strategy by States parties towards the achievement of “de facto” or substantive equality of women and men in the enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    Towards enhancing its working methods, she said that the Committee undertook several steps, including: preparation of lists of issues and questions for States presenting their initial reports; recommendations on the length of the reports, as well as of the written replies to the lists; streamlining the constructive dialogue; and inviting States to consolidate all of their outstanding reports into one combined report. The Committee had also put in place incremental measures to encourage States to submit long overdue reports, and especially initial reports. In that regard, it had decided at its last session to invite two States to submit their overdue reports as combined reports by June 2005 for consideration in July 2005.  The total number of outstanding reports as of 1 August was 217.

    Notwithstanding those and other efforts by the Committee, that body still faced “serious constraints” in discharging its responsibilities in a timely and effective manner, she said. For that, various options had been considered. At the last session, the Committee had decided to request the General Assembly to extend its annual meeting time. Specifically, the Committee was requesting the Assembly to authorize it to meet for an additional week at its sessions in July 2005 and January and July 2006.  In order to achieve a long-term solution to deal with the workload, the Committee asked the Assembly to authorize it to hold, as of 2007, three annual sessions of three weeks each, with a pre-session working group for each session.

    Adding that that request would be before the Assembly by way of the Committee’s annual report, she said the decision had also outlined the reasons for the Committee’s request, particularly the fact that the reports of more than 40 States parties currently awaited consideration. That meant that reports submitted now would be considered, at the earliest, in July 2007 -- a delay which itself was a disincentive for States to report in a timely manner. She also reviewed the relevant activities of the Division for the Advancement of Women, which had continued to provide technical assistance to States, at their request, in support of the Convention’s implementation.

    Further updating the parties on developments since their 2002 meeting, she drew attention to document CEDAW/SP/2004/2 and offered the following details:  seven more States had become party to the Convention, bringing to 177 the total number of parties; 20 States parties had ratified or acceded to the Convention, bringing that total to 64; an additional nine States parties had accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, bringing that total to 44.

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