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COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN OPENS FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION

COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN OPENS FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION
30 June 2014

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this morning opened its fifty-eighth session, hearing a statement from Ibrahim Salama, Director of the Human Rights Treaties Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopting its agenda and programme of work for the session. 

Mr. Salama said that following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 68/268 on strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty bodies system on 9 April 2014, the treaty bodies strengthening process had entered its implementation phase.  The process had shown to which extent the system was in a crisis, but had also shown all the opportunities of the system itself.  Mr. Salama commended the Committee for their contribution to the post-2015 development agenda, and stressed that the Committee was in a unique position to lead this treaty bodies' reform process.

Nicole Ameline, Chairperson of the Committee, said that since the last session, the State of Palestine had acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, bringing the number of ratifications to 188.  The core principle of the Convention on the centrality of women’s rights figured prominently in the zero draft of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, which also contained a stand-alone gender-equality goal.  The Annual Meeting of Chairpersons discussed the implementation of resolution 68/269, in particular the structure of the constructive dialogue, concluding observations and the simplified reporting procedure. 
 
The Committee heard reports on the status of the follow up reports and on the pre-session working group for the fifty-eighth session, as well as updates on the activities conducted by the Committee Experts in the intercessional period.

The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. this afternoon to hold an informal public meeting with non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions with respect to Peru, India, Mauritania and Syria, whose reports will be considered by the Committee this week.

Opening Statement

IBRAHIM SALAMA, Director of the Human Rights Treaties Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 68/268 on strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty bodies system on 9 April 2014, the treaty bodies strengthening process had entered its implementation phase.  The process had shown to which extent the system was in a crisis, but had also shown all the opportunities of the system itself.  In the resolution, which was fully based on the June 2013 report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the independence of the treaty bodies was fully respected, the system got a 30 per cent increase in meeting time and also got an increase in staffing for support services.  The States expected from the treaty bodies to be predictable and efficient, to listen to their views, to report on a biannual basis on the number of reports examined, efficiency of working methods and other indicators.  The main positive thing was that the notion of the system had been fully accepted by all, with horizontal links between treaty bodies, aligning of the working methods, i.e. the Poznan formula.  It was also important that the concluding observations were concrete, tangible and implementable.  Mr. Salama reiterated that the treaty bodies needed to prepare an implementation report for the General Assembly in two years’ time.  The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was in a unique position to lead this reform process.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights hoped that the treaty bodies system was moving in the right direction and expected to hear back from the treaty bodies themselves, on what worked and what did not.  Mr. Salama commended the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for their contribution to the post-2015 development agenda, which he said was a particular spearheading role that the Committee could play. 

Adoption of the Agenda and Programme of Work and the Report of the Chairperson

The Committee adopted the agenda and programme of work for the fifty-eighth session.

NICOLE AMELINE, Chairperson of the Committee, presenting her report said that since the last session, the State of Palestine had acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, bringing the number of ratifications to 188.  The ratification status of the Optional Protocols had not changed, but Serbia had accepted the amendment concerning the meeting time of the Committee and there were now 69 States parties which had accepted the amendment.  Four States parties had submitted their reports, namely Liberia, Lebanon, Eritrea and Slovenia. 

Ms. Ameline said she had participated in the opening of the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women and conveyed the position of the Committee on the centrality of women’s rights and of a stand-alone gender-equality goal in the post-2015 development agenda.  Both those core principles of the Convention were figuring prominently in the zero draft of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.  During the meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General and the new Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the importance of the general recommendation N°30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations had been acknowledged. 

Ms. Ameline said she had participated in the Annual Meeting of Chairpersons last week, where the implementation of resolution 68/269 had been discussed, particularly the structure of the constructive dialogue, concluding observations and the simplified reporting procedure. 

Updates on Experts’ Activities during the Intercessional Period

SILVIA PIMENTAL, Committee Expert, said she had participated at the meeting of women judges and lawyers on the occasion of the thirtieth  anniversary of the Constitution of Brazil.

VIOLETA NEUBAUER, Committee Expert, said she had participated in a panel discussion at the Human Rights Council in June 2014, where she had presented the Committee’s standards and initiatives on preventing child and early forced marriages.  She had also participated in a seminar organized by the Council of Europe, and a training course in Uzbekistan on the obligations to implement Committees’ concluding observations, organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

DUBRAVKA SIMONOVIC, Committee Expert, said she took part in a panel organized by the Human Rights Council in June 2014 on the impact of gender stereotypes on the realization of the human rights of women.  In May 2014, the Swiss Government and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had organized a meeting of the Subcommittee on asylum, statelessness and nationality, at which a draft had been finalized and would be presented to the plenary.

OLINDA BAREIRO-BOBADILLA, Committee Expert, said that she participated in the meeting of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, and spoke about equality and political equality.

ISMAT JAHAN, Committee Expert, said she had participated in a workshop on women with disabilities and spoke about the Committee’s attention given to this issue and the issue of multiple discrimination, even in the absence of a specific article in the Convention on women with disabilities.

HILARY GBEDEMAH, Committee Expert, said she took part in a forum on the abduction of school girls in Nigeria, where she had presented the Committee’s statement and connected it to the provisions of the Convention on the education.  Ms. Gbedemah also trained parliamentarians in Ghana on the right to representation.

PRAMILA PATTEN, Committee Expert, said that at the invitation of UN Women, she had focused on working with the Transitional Government of Tunisia on the withdrawal of reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.  Further, Ms. Pattel had assisted the Government of Turkmenistan in drafting the National Action Plan for the implementation of the Committee’s concluding observations.

BIANCAMARIA POMERANZI, Committee Expert, analyzed the draft text with other colleagues and discussed the possibility of intervening to support the discussion, which was a sensitive issue as it was an intergovernmental process.  There was a stand-alone goal on gender but the language of the text could be strengthened and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women should be included in the preambular text.

NAHLA HAIDAR, Committee Expert, said that she had taken part in the annual Dubai International Humanitarian Assistance Days and its segment on Women and Aid where issues such as women, peace and security, education and others had been discussed.  Her participation was not as the Committee member.  In Cairo, she had taken part in work on violence against women in public spheres, and in Lebanon she had participated in the meeting of the diaspora. 

NAELA GABR, Committee Expert, said that she worked with women in Egypt, and had taken part in a meeting on challenges and barriers to the enjoyment of key human rights of women in Africa.  In another meeting on violence against women, there were discussions on the need for a separate legal instrument on the subject.

THEODORA OBY NWANKWO, Committee Expert, took part in a meeting organized by the key electoral body in Nigeria and made a presentation on the subject of gender equality in elections.

XIAOQIAO ZOU, Committee Expert, said that a workshop on gender capacity building had been organized in Beijing where she had made a presentation on the content and principles of the Convention and its the Optional Protocol.

RUTH HALPERIN-KADDARI, Committee Expert, said she took part in a conference in Vancouver on women groups and their reaction to attacks on feminism, and also in another conference in Israel.

Pre-sessional Working Group Report and the Follow-up

NICOLE AMELINE, Chairperson of the Committee, presented the report of the pre-sessional working group and said that it had prepared a list of issues with regard to reports of the Central African Republic, Georgia, India, Lithuania, Mauritania, Peru, Swaziland, and Syria.  The list of issues and questions, which had focused on themes covered by the Convention, had been transmitted to the States parties concerned.

XIAOQIAO ZOU, Committee Expert and Alternate Follow-up Rapporteur, briefed the Committee on the status of follow-up reports received from States parties in reply to the Committee’s concluding observations. She said that the Committee had received delayed follow-up reports from Belarus, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liechtenstein, Republic of Korea, and Singapore, while Mauritius and Paraguay had sent their reports on time. 


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CEDAW14/005E