26 October 2015
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women opened its sixty-second session this morning, hearing a statement by a representative of the Secretary-General, adopting the agenda of the session and discussing inter-sessional and follow-up activities.
Orest Nowosad, Chief of the Groups in Focus Section of the Human Rights Treaties Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that under goal 5 of the Agenda for Sustainable Development, Member States committed to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. Certain targets included caveats about national law, which could be seen to set lower standards than those forming part of States’ existing international obligations. It was critical that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda was based on a robust follow-up and review framework that was grounded in international human rights standards, including the Convention. The Committee would look into possible ways and means of engaging in relation to the achievement of Target 5.1, the indicator for which should be adopted in March 2016.
During the seventieth session, the General Assembly would devote time to discussing the situation of rural women as well as violence against women migrant workers, Mr. Nowosad said. During its thirtieth session, in September 2015, the Human Rights Council had held its annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective in the work of the Council, which this year focused on gender parity. The aim of the 2015 panel discussion had been to analyse main challenges to achieving parity in international human rights bodies, in particular the Council and its mechanisms. The Geneva Gender Champions campaign had been launched by the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Mr. Nowosad said that on 14 October, the independent Global Study on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 had been launched during the High Level Review convened by the Security Council to assess 15 years of progress in implementing the resolution at global, regional and national levels. It contained a checklist of questions for States parties reporting to CEDAW that were based on General Recommendation 30. It was noteworthy that this year’s report of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security called for another High Level Review in 2020.
In conclusion, Mr. Nowosad said that the sixty-second session would be the first time that the Committee would be meeting for four weeks, thanks to the additional meeting time granted under General Assembly resolution 68/268 on treaty body strengthening. Dialogues with 11 States parties would be held; a panel discussion on “Connecting CEDAW and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda” would take place; and the Committee would explore ways and means of contributing to the follow-up and review of Target 5.1 of the 2030 Agenda on ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
The Committee then proceeded to adopt the agenda and organization of work for the sixty-second session.
Yoko Hayashi, Chairperson of the Committee, noted that since the previous session, Sri Lanka had accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee, bringing the number of States parties up to 70. The number of States parties which had ratified or acceded to the Convention remained 189. Eight States parties had submitted their periodic reports since the beginning of the previous session. Ms. Hayashi said she had moderated a panel discussion on “Multiple Stakeholders of International Cooperation” at the World Assembly of Women in Tokyo in August 2015, and presented the Committee’s statement to the Third Committee of the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Ms. Hayashi congratulated Committee Expert Theodora Oby Nwankwo, one of the six recipients of the 2015 Women Have Wings Award, a monetary award for women of courage sponsored by the Tides Foundation. The dialogues with States parties in the course of the sixty-second session would be webcast live by the non-governmental organization Coalition at www.treatybodywebcast.org.
A number of other Experts presented their respective activities between the sixty-first and the sixty-second sessions. Those included participation in discussions on the Convention and rural women, rural development under Agenda 2030, women and Muslim law, legal rights of women in Africa, costs of violence against women, complementarity between the Convention and Security Council resolution 1325 (2005), domestic migrant workers in irregular situations, rights of intersex persons, and access of women to justice. An Expert had contributed to the peace negotiations between the Colombian Government and FARC rebels, focusing on the impact on women.
An Expert raised the issue of backlog of 52 reports and how it could be reduced. The Secretariat said that 11 of those would be considered at the current session. The Secretary-General was under obligation to report to the General Assembly every two years on how the backlogs of different treaty bodies were being reduced – his first report was due in 2016. Based on that, there might be new decisions on the readjustment of resources.
Moving on to discuss the pre-sessional Working Group’s report and follow-up, Patricia Schulz, Chairperson of the pre-sessional Working Group for the sixty-second session, informed that the group had met in March and prepared lists of issues and questions for the States parties which would be considered at the current session. The consideration of the report of Yemen had been postponed to a future session at the request of the State party. Particular attention had been paid to the States parties’ follow-up to the Committee’s concluding observations on their previous reports.
Xiaoqiao Zou, Committee Rapporteur on follow-up, said that at the end of the sixty-first session, follow-up letters had been sent to Chile, Cyprus, Hungary, Kuwait, Malta, Mexico, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkmenistan. A first reminder on an overdue follow-up report had been sent to Pakistan, and second reminders to Guyana, Indonesia and Jamaica. A number of other reminders should be sent and meetings with several States parties were scheduled during the current session.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. this afternoon for an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations.
For use of the information media; not an official record