9 March 2006

Release of Women and Child Hostages, HIV/AIDS Impact among Issues Addressed in Women's Commission Texts

NEW YORK, 8 March (UN Headquarters) -- In a brief meeting this afternoon, the Commission on the Status of Women heard the introduction of four draft resolutions, including on the release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflict and women and HIV/AIDS, which it is expected to adopt at the close of its fiftieth session on Friday, 10 March.

Introducing the draft on the release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflict (document E/CN.6/2006/L.1), the observer of Azerbaijan noted that, from 1995 to 2001, the resolution had been adopted annually by the Commission without a vote.  In 2002, the resolution had been transformed to biennial text.  The resolution drew attention to a critical issue not given prominence at the international level.  Acts of hostage-taking in different forms was taking place at an increased rate.  All forms of violence in armed conflict, in particular taking women hostage, seriously contravened international humanitarian law.

While the draft was similar to those adopted in previous years, some changes had been made, she added.  Reference was made to the need for sex disaggregated data on hostages and a new operative paragraph had been included to encourage the United Nations to come up with more ways and means to address the problem.  It also drew attention to the need for the relevant special rapporteurs and the Secretary-General's Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict to address the issue of women and children taken hostage.  Making several oral amendments to the text, she said the goal was to seek efficient ways to address the problem to contribute to the Organization's noble goals.

Botswana's representative, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), introduced draft resolution E/CN.6/2006/L.2 entitled "Women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS".  The SADC had been tabling the resolution for the past five years to highlight the gender dimension and disproportionate effect of HIV/AIDS on women.  HIV/AIDS had touched every country in the world and continued to destroy families.  Some 43 million people were living with AIDS.  In 2005, AIDS had resulted in the deaths of some 3.1 million people worldwide.  Globally, women were being infected at a faster rate than boys.  Half of those living with HIV/AIDS were female.  With the wealth of knowledge about HIV/AIDS, it was a tragedy that not much progress had been made.  The resolution had received overwhelming support from Member States.  He hoped the current session would give it similar support.

The observer of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, introduced a draft resolution on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan (document E/CN.6/2006/L.3) and made several oral amendments to the text.  The Union, she said, congratulated the Government of Afghanistan for having increased the participation of women in Government, Parliament and the provisional councils.  Women's participation must be accelerated as should the capacity of all government institutions to mainstream gender.  Reform was needed not only at the national level, but also at the provisional and district levels.  While progress had been made, it remained fragile and scarce.  Women continued to suffer from a pervasive lack of security.  The General Assembly had adopted a comprehensive resolution on Afghanistan only last fall.  The text should guide the work of the United Nations, the Afghan Government and the international community for the country's reconstruction in a gender-sensitive way.  The Union would focus on new tools for monitoring progress on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan.

South Africa's representative introduced the draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women contained in document E/CN.6/2006/L.4, noting that the humanitarian and socio-economic crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, had significantly affected Palestinian women in the most detrimental way.  The continuing difficulties faced by Palestinian women and the need to provide them with assistance in overcoming the obstacles to their development and advancement were central to the draft.  The majority of the text was identical to that of last year's resolution.  However, two preambular paragraphs had been inserted.  Among other things, the text called on the international community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance and services to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian women and their families and to help in the reconstruction of relevant Palestinian institutions.

In other action today, it was decided that the Commission's Chairperson would address a letter to the President of the Economic and Social Council drawing his attention to a conference room paper for the information of the Council's 2006 high-level segment.  Introducing that paper was the Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women, Carolyn Hannan, who recalled that the Council President had invited the functional commissions to provide input to its high-level segments.  The conference room paper provided an overview of the recommendations on the theme for the 2006 high-level segment -- full employment and decent work for all -- provided by relevant documents of the Commission.

The Commission will meet again at a date to be announced.

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