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

COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN OPENS FIFTY-FOURTH SESSION
Elects Nicole Ameline of France as New Chairperson
11 February 2013

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this morning opened its fifty-four session, hearing a statement from Jacob Schneider 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.  The Committee elected a new Bureau, choosing Ms. Nicole Amelie of France as the new Chairperson.

Mr. Schneider said that the Office was eager to learn how the Committee would choose to implement the recommendations of the meeting of Chairpersons that took place in Addis Ababa last year, particularly with regard to the Simplified Reporting Procedure, and encouraged the Committee to continue the review of the Guidelines on the independence and impartiality of treaty body members.  As the key phase of the treaty bodies strengthening process was now starting, with States negotiating additional support to treaty bodies, the Office of the High Commissioner was convinced that the Committee would remain at the forefront of innovative and efficient working methods. 

The Committee elected by acclamation Ms. Nicole Ameline of France as the new Chairperson.  The Committee also elected Violeta Neubauer from the Eastern Europe group and Pramila Patten from the Africa group as Vice-Chairpersons and Barbara Bailey from the Latin America and Caribbean group as the Rapporteur.  The Committee was waiting for the nomination from the Asian group to proceed with the election of the third Vice-Chairperson. 

At the beginning of the meeting, the following new members of the Committee made their solemn oath: Noor El-Jehani (Qatar), Hilary Gbedemah (Ghana), Nahla Haidar (Lebanon), Dalia Leinarte (Lithuania), Theodora Nwankwo (Nigeria), and Biancamaria Pomeranzi (Italy).

Nicole Ameline, the new Chairperson of the Committee, said that the Committee needed to choose new strategies to increase its visibility within the treaty bodies system and to highlight the profile of its work.  The Committee would work on developing a set of procedures to guide its work and would continue to take into account the facts on the ground.

Silvia Pimentel, the outgoing Chairperson of the Committee, took stock of the achievements of the Committee over the past two years, such as the adoption of several landmark decisions on individual complaints under article 2 of the Optional Protocol.  The views of the Committee were increasingly influential in the creation of an international women’s human rights jurisprudence, while three commemorative events organized in New York, Geneva and Istanbul to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Committee in 2012 highlighted the work of the Committee and increased awareness of women’s human rights issues.
 
The Committee heard reports on the status of the follow-up reports and on the pre-session working group for the fifty-four session.

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 Pakistan, Austria, Cyprus and Hungary, whose reports will be reviewed during the session.

Opening Statements

JACOB SCHNEIDER, Representative of the Director of the Human Rights Treaties Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the treaty bodies strengthening process concerned all the treaty bodies and the Office was eager to learn how the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women would choose to implement the recommendations of last year’s meeting of Chairpersons in Addis Ababa, particularly with regard to the Simplified Reporting Procedure.  Also, Mr. Schneider encouraged the Committee to continue the review of the Guidelines on the independence and impartiality of treaty body members.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights believed that the key phase of the treaty bodies strengthening process was now starting with States negotiating additional support to treaty bodies, and was convinced that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women would remain at the forefront of innovative and efficient working methods.  While the Secretariat would not be affected by budget cuts in the biennium 2014-2015, it was necessary to take into account the lack of resources and pace out the work on general comments in a way that could be sustained by members and the Secretariat.  Mr. Schneider than turned to the interventions made by the High Commissioner on issues involving violations of women’s rights, notably in the case of a 14-year old Pakistani girl shot in the head and neck on her way back from school.  The High Commissioner had condemned this attempted murder by the Taliban and had emphasized that violence against girls took place all over the world and deterred many girls from attending school.  The High Commissioner had called on India to strengthen its legal regime against rape in response to the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year old Indian woman in December 2012.  In closing, Mr. Schneider thanked the outgoing Chairperson, Ms. Pimentel, the Bureau who had served with her, and the members retiring from the Committee.

SILVIA PIMENTEL, Chairperson of the Committee, presented her report and said that the number of States parties to the Convention remained at 187, while 10 States had submitted their reports since the fifty-third session of the Committee, namely the Gambia, Belgium, Eritrea, Tuvalu, Poland, Ecuador, Maldives, Kyrgyzstan, Viet Nam and Solomon Islands.  Ms. Pimentel had organized the annual Simulated Session of the Committee at the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paolo, which had been very useful in introducing the treaty bodies system to the law students.  The election of a new Chairperson, scheduled for this session, was a good opportunity to take stock of the achievements of the Committee over the past two years, which included the adoption of several landmark decisions on individual complaints under article 2 of the Optional Protocol, which dealt with discrimination in employment and housing, domestic violence and reproductive health and rights.  The views of the Committee were increasingly influential in the creation of an international women’s human rights jurisprudence.  The Committee had embarked on the elaboration of a series of general recommendations, had created different working groups and held a general discussion of women in situations of armed conflict and post-conflict in July 2012 in New York, which had been attended by 600 participants.  Three commemorative events organized in New York, Geneva and Istanbul to mark thirtieth anniversary of the Committee, in which the work of the Committee and awareness of women’s human rights issues had been highlighted.

Election of the New Bureau

The Committee then proceeded to the election of the new members of the Bureau, and elected by acclamation Ms. Nicole Ameline of France as the new Chairperson.  The Committee also elected Violeta Neubauer from the Eastern Europe group and Pramila Patten from the Africa group as Vice-Chairpersons and Barbara Bailey from the Latin America and Caribbean group as the Rapporteur.  The Committee was waiting for the nomination from the Asian group to proceed with the election of the third Vice-Chairperson.  The term of new members of the Bureau would expire on 31 December 2014.

NICOLE AMELINE, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the Committee members and the outgoing Chairperson Ms. Pimentel for her valuable service and tireless search for compromise.  Ms. Ameline said that the Committee needed to choose new strategies to increase its visibility within the treaty bodies system and to highlight the profile of its work.  The Committee would work on developing a set of procedures to guide its work and would continue to take into account the facts on the ground.

Membership of the Committee

The Committee Members are: Ayse Feride Acar (Turkey); Noor Al-Jehani (Qatar);
Nicole Ameline (France); Barbara Evelyn Bailey (Jamaica); Olindia Bareiro-Bobadilla (Paraguay); Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani (Algeria); Niklas Bruun (Finland); Naela Mohamed Gabr (Egypt); Hilary Gbedemah (Ghana); Nahla Haidar (Lebanon);  Ruth Halperin-Kaddari (Israel); Yoko Hayashi (Japan); Ismat Jahan (Bangladesh); Dalia Leinarte (Lithuania); Violeta Neubauer (Slovenia); Theodora Oby Nwankwo (Nigeria);
Pramila Patten (Mauritius); Silvia Pimentel (Brazil); Maria Helena Lopes de Jesus Pires (Timor-Leste); Biancamaria Pomeranzi (Italy); Patricia Schulz (Switzerland); Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia) and Xiaoqiao Zou (China).

Ms. Ameline is the Chairperson.  Ms. Neubauer and Ms. Pramila Patten are the Vice-Chairpersons and Ms. Bailey is the Rapporteur.  The Committee is waiting for the nomination from the Asian group to proceed with the election of the third Vice-Chairperson.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CEDAW13/002E