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Informal Consultations of the 44th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (Beijing +5 PrepCom)
New York, May 2000
 

BRIEFING NOTE FOR 25 MAY 2000

 

COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN ACTING AS THE PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR BEIJING +5

 

SUMMARY

 

On Thursday, 25 May, Working Group I discussed Section II from 10am to 1pm, and from 7pm to 10pm. Working Group II discussed Section IV from 3pm to 6pm. The following summary covers only text negotiated in the current sessions.

 

WORKING GROUP I: SECTION II: ACHIEVEMENTS AND OBSTACLES

 

Economy: In paragraph 15, on obstacles, delegates agreed that gender discrimination in hiring and promotion and related to pregnancy including through pregnancy testing, and sexual harassment in the work place persist. On language stating that, in some countries, women’s equal rights to ownership of land and other forms of property and to inheritance is not recognized in national legislation, the EU specified ownership and control. Delegates agreed. LIBYA, PAKISTAN, IRAN and ALGERIA opposed “equal.” PAKISTAN underscored outright rejection of including equal before inheritance. JUSCANZ, SOUTH AFRICA and CHINA supported retaining equal. IRAN suggested referring to equal access. CHINA, opposed by SOUTH AFRICA, advocated deleting the reference to in national legislation, noting non-recognition extends beyond this. Delegates bracketed the provision and the references to equal access and national legislation, and noted PFA 165(e) as possible alternative language. Delegates agreed progression in professions, in most cases, is still more difficult for women, due to the lack of structures and measures that take into account maternity and family responsibilities. They also agreed on language, amended by the HOLY SEE, providing that in some cases, persistent gender stereotyping has led to a lower status of male workers as fathers and to an insufficient encouragement for men to reconcile professional and family responsibilities. Delegates further agreed that lack of family-friendly policies regarding the organization of work increases these difficulties and that effective implementation of legislation and practical support systems is still inadequate.

 

Human Rights: In paragraph 20, on achievements, delegates agreed to language noting reforms of laws governing marriage and family relations and women’s rights, and added a reference to laws governing all forms of violence. The EU supported, and IRAN, ALGERIA and LIBYA opposed, JUSCANZ language stating that in a growing number of countries, legal measures have been taken to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The language remains bracketed. On steps having been taken to realize women’s de facto enjoyment of their human rights through creation of an enabling environment including, inter alia, implementation of legal literacy and awareness campaigns, IRAN, supported by CHINA, ALGERIA and CUBA, proposed specifying campaigns at the national level. JUSCANZ opposed, observing that campaigns have occurred at the international level. The Chair proposed referring to the national and international level. BOTSWANA preferred a reference to all levels. The Chair’s and Botswana’s alternatives are bracketed.

 

Delegates agreed on text stating that CEDAW has been ratified or acceded to by 165 countries and its full implementation has been promoted by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. They agreed to delete a reference to growing public awareness and support for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Regarding text on adoption of the Optional Protocol of the Convention by the General Assembly, the EU suggested additional wording on the Optional Protocol allowing women to submit claims on violations of the rights protected under CEDAW. LIBYA, supported by ALGERIA, stated that the language should be general. The EU-proposed addition remains bracketed. Delegates accepted text referring to progress made in integrating the human rights of women and mainstreaming a gender perspective into the UN system, but could not agree on a reference to the Commission on Human Rights, which remains bracketed. Regarding text on the contribution of women’s NGOs to heightening awareness that women’s rights are human rights and to generating support for the Optional Protocol and the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), delegates agreed to a suggestion by PAKISTAN on support “for the adoption of” the Optional Protocol. CHINA noted that addition of this language implied adoption of the statute of the ICC. ALGERIA questioned the relevance of the ICC reference, and asked that the language be bracketed. ECUADOR, supported by the EU, emphasized the importance of both the Optional Protocol and the statute of the ICC. The reference remains bracketed.

 

In paragraph 21, on obstacles, the EU, supported by JUSCANZ, proposed language on gender and all forms of discrimination, in particular related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance; and suggested deleting reference to ethnic cleansing, armed conflict and foreign occupation. The G-77/CHINA preferred to keep the text bracketed. JUSCANZ agreed to a G-77/China formulation stating that while a number of countries have ratified CEDAW, the goal of universal ratification by the year 2000 has not been achieved. Chair Mlacak suggested a compilation of G-77/China, JUSCANZ, Mexico, and EU proposals on CEDAW implementation, gaps between existing legal standards and their application, and harmful traditional and stereotyped attitudes. The new formulation remains bracketed. The G-77/CHINA proposed, while the EU and JUSCANZ opposed, replacing EU text on countries enforcing gender discrimination through law with language on women having insufficient access to the law in many countries. Both references remain bracketed. Discussion on the last two sentences on reproductive health and barriers to human rights was deferred.

 

Media: In paragraph 22, on achievements, delegates agreed to the paragraph with JUSCANZ amendments to: refer to women’s media networks contributing to global information dissemination; delete text on the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) influencing the participation of women in media; and to add references to the empowerment of women and girls and the increasing number of women contributing to, inter alia, knowledge sharing.

 

In paragraph 23, on obstacles, the EU called for reference to obscene materials instead of pornography. IRAN wanted to retain pornography, while the HOLY SEE, with JUSCANZ, proposed language on child pornography and other obscene materials agreed by the WSSD+5 PrepCom. The reference remains bracketed. Delegates agreed to Senegal’s proposal, amended by Ecuador, to refer to negative and/or degrading images of women. In text on the increase in some instances of, inter alia, negative images, they also accepted IRAN’s insertion of language on different forms using new technologies. JUSCANZ proposed reference to areas of journalism remaining biased against women, instead of journalists. MEXICO, supported by CUBA, ARGENTINA, VENEZUELA, ALGERIA, BRAZIL and LIBYA, preferred media professionals. The EU proposed some media professionals, while the Chair suggested text on bias against women remaining in the media. The alternatives remain bracketed. Delegates agreed to a JUSCANZ proposal to delete a sentence on male norms. VENEZUELA, CUBA, ALGERIA and ARGENTINA supported a Holy See proposal to refer to a list of issues, including poverty and illiteracy, limiting access to the Internet. JUSCANZ added a reference to lack of computer literacy, and called for deleting a reference to language barriers. The HOLY SEE and VENEZUELA, on behalf of Some Latin American Countries (SLAC), accepted lack of computer literacy. CHINA and SOUTH AFRICA wanted to retain language barriers. SENEGAL supported the Holy See proposal, but stressed the barriers apply equally to men. The EU agreed. CUBA and SOUTH AFRICA noted that these obstacles affect women more, and called for retaining placement. The list remains bracketed. Delegates agreed to Mexico’s proposal to refer to these barriers preventing some women from using ICTs, in particular the Internet. The US amended the text to refer to including the Internet. In the paragraph’s last sentence, SLAC noted difficulties with references to political will and financial resources, and urged deletion. LIBYA, ALGERIA, CUBA, CHINA, the PHILIPPINES and IRAN agreed. The EU said it would not accept the sentence without political will. JUSCANZ proposed language specifying that development of and access to Internet infrastructure is limited. The Chair proposed including a reference from Cuba on developing countries and particularly for women. Delegates agreed to this formulation.

 

Environment : In paragraph 24, achievements, delegates agreed to text stating that some national environmental policies and programmes have incorporated gender perspectives. Regarding the link between poverty and environmental degradation, delegates could not agree to language proposed by Mexico on overcoming poverty as a pre-condition to advancing toward sustainable development and reversing the tendency of environmental degradation. The EU pointed out that there is also environmental degradation in industrialized countries. Delegates could not reach consensus on a JUSCANZ-proposed reference to health. The paragraph remains bracketed.

   

WORKING GROUP II: SECTION IV: FURTHER ACTIONS AND INITIATIVE

 

Actions to be taken at the international level: In 120(e), on establishment of a database listing all programmes and projects carried out by UN agencies, delegates could not reach consensus on a suggestion by Chair Bhattacharjee to use JUSCANZ-proposed text calling for ECOSOC to �build up� a database. The text remains bracketed.

 

In 121(f), on development planning, delegates accepted wording on gender perspective as a �key� dimension of development. The sub-paragraph was agreed.

 

In 121(g), on CEDAW implementation, SLAC suggested deleting a reference to concluding comments and general recommendations of the CEDAW Committee. JUSCANZ pointed out that the language was imported from a GA resolution. Various delegations proposed formulations to ensure the meaning of the resolution was maintained in the sub-paragraph. PAKISTAN suggested that the text be placed elsewhere, and it remains bracketed.

 

In 122(a), development of gender-sensitive responses to humanitarian crises, SLAC suggested text on assisting governments, upon request, to develop these responses. PAKISTAN questioned the inclusion of reference to environmental degradation, suggested a merger with sub-paragraph 122 (b), and, with CUBA, supported reference to humanitarian �emergencies.� The EU referred to PFA language on environmental degradation. IRAN proposed deletion of reference to natural disasters and environmental degradation. Citing national experiences, ST. KITTS AND NEVIS and ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA highlighted the importance of reference to natural disasters. ALGERIA questioned whether national or international guidelines on responses were considered intergovernmentally. The sub-paragraph remains bracketed.

 

In 122(a) bis, on a G-77/CHINA proposal inviting the UNCHR to enhance further assistance to refugees, GUINEA suggested using agreed language from CHR resolution L.74. JUSCANZ preferred to retain a gender-specific focus in the sub-paragraph, which remains bracketed.

 

In 122(b), on participation by women at all levels of decision-making in development activities and peace processes, SLAC amended text proposed by JUSCANZ, adding reference to promoting the participation of women. The HOLY SEE withdrew their proposal to delete the sub-paragraph. The EU proposed reference to all stages of design, planning and implementation. PAKISTAN added reference to supporting and ensuring full and equal participation. LIBYA suggested distinguishing language on development in all its aspects and stages from peace-keeping activities, and BANGLADESH proposed, with support from SLAC, CHINA, SENEGAL, ALGERIA, the EU, and SOUTH AFRICA, splitting the sub-paragraph into one on development and one on peace-keeping. BANGLADESH also proposed, while SLAC opposed and SOUTH AFRICA supported, adding reference to all levels of implementation. The sub-paragraph was divided, but all text remains bracketed.

 

In 122(c), an EU formulation on considering funding and support for empowering women and their organizations in conflict prevention, peace-keeping, and post-conflict transformation activities, SLAC proposed, while the EU opposed and CUBA supported, either deleting the sub-paragraph or merging it with 122 (b). PAKISTAN, with LIBYA and CUBA, proposed deleting reference to funding. JUSCANZ preferred text on strengthening capacity for involvement in conflict prevention. The EU agreed to consider a suggestion made by PAKISTAN and supported by LIBYA to replace reference to transformation with reference to reconstruction. The text remains bracketed.

 

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This briefing note was provided by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin � enb@iisd.org. It was written and edited by Tonya Barnes <tmb34@columbia.edu>, Richard Campbell <richard@iisd.org>, Wendy Jackson <wendy@iisd.org>, and Gretchen Sidhu <gsidhu@igc.org>. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org> and the Managing Editor is Langston James "Kimo" Goree <kimo@iisd.org>. IISD can be contacted by e-mail at <info@iisd.ca> and at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada. The opinions expressed in this briefing note are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD and other funders. Excerpts from this briefing note may be used in non-commercial publications only and only with appropriate academic citation. For permission to use this material in commercial publications, contact the Managing Editor.    

 
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