The 39th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was called to order on 15 March by Ms. Patricia Licuanan (Philippines), Chair of the Commission. She stated that the goals of Nairobi remain valid but, for the most part, unattained. She noted that the conference title, "Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace," indicates the need for concerted action.
Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Development, Nitin Desai, noted that this session is where the basic outcome of the Beijing Conference will be shaped. He urged delegates to place the Conference in the context of the other recent UN conferences. All of the UN conferences, beginning with the 1990 World Conference for Children, are part of the process of searching for a role for public policy in a rapidly changing world and of defining the responsibility of government for the social good.
Mrs. Gertrude Mongella, Secretary-General of the Fourth World Conference on Women, highlighted the Secretariat"s innovative process of involving youth in the regional meetings. She noted that the draft Platform for Action sets forth more than 200 actions, and stated that NGOs are an essential, democratizing element in this process.
Delegates then turned to the matter of NGO accreditation. The EU, supported by several other delegations, called for a transparent, open NGO accreditation process, and proposed that the list of NGOs to be accredited be left open until the end of the CSW Session. Armenia questioned the accreditation of the Armenian Relief Society. The Holy See challenged the accreditation of "Catholics for Free Choice," objecting to the use of the word "Catholic" in their title, while espousing positions opposed to the Catholic Church, including its position on abortion. Delegates adopted the list of NGOs ad referendum, pending examination of the questioned NGOs and leaving the list open until the end of the CSW.
Mongella introduced Agenda Item 3, Preparations for the Fourth World Conference on Women, by noting that the Commission"s decisions will shape the conduct of the conference in Beijing. The remainder of 15 March, all of 16 March and the morning of 17 March were then devoted to statements on preparations for the FWCW.
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