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COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN OPENS SEVENTY-THIRD SESSION IN GENEVA

1 July 2019

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this morning opened its seventy-third session, hearing a statement by Gianni Magazzeni, Chief, Universal Periodic Review Branch, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopting its agenda and programme of work.

Mr. Magazzeni said that the Committee’s session was occurring at a crucial moment for the treaty body system, which was confronted with unprecedented challenges to fulfil its mandate. Although the holding of the treaty bodies’ third session in 2019 would take place, there remained a critical shortfall in staffing of the Treaties Branch. This year marked the fortieth anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the one hundredth anniversary of the International Labour Organization, he continued, recalling that at its one hundred and eighth session held in June 2019, the International Labour Organization had adopted its Centenary Declaration for the Future of World, as well as the Convention and Recommendation concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work.

Briefing the Committee on the ongoing forty-first session of the Human Rights Council, Mr. Magazzeni noted that it had addressed the themes of violence against women in the world of work and the rights of older women and their economic empowerment, as well as women’s rights and climate change. Several draft resolutions were before the Council for adoption next week, including on eliminating violence against women and girls, eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and girls, and on equal pay, among others.

During its current session, the Committee would, inter alia, conduct dialogues with seven States parties; convene a panel on 8 July to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Convention; consider a draft report of a confidential inquiry into grave or systematic violations of the Convention; and discuss the outcome of the thirty-first annual meeting of Chairs of human rights treaty bodies, in particular in relation to the 2020 review of the treaty bodies system, concluded Mr. Magazzeni, wishing the Committee a very successful and productive session.

Hilary Gbedemah, Committee Chairperson, said that the number of States parties to the Convention remained at 189, while after the ratification by Malta, Marshall Islands and Thailand, the number of States parties to the Optional Protocol now stood at 112. The number of States which had accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the Committee’s meeting time had increased from 78 to 79 after the acceptance by Thailand.

The Committee adopted the provisional agenda and organization of work for the seventy-third session, and heard the report on the status of the follow-up reports and updates on the intersessional activities by its Chair and several Committee Experts.

The Committee’s session will take place from 1 to 19 July 2019, during which the reports of the following States parties will be reviewed: Austria, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guyana, Mozambique and Qatar. Their reports and all other documentation, including the agenda and the programme of work, can be found at the session webpage.

The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/. Meeting summaries in English and French are available at the News and Media page of the United Nations Office at Geneva website.

The Committee will reconvene in public today at 3 p.m., to meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions from Qatar, Mozambique and Côte d’Ivoire whose reports it will review this week.

Opening Remarks

GIANNI MAGAZZENI, Chief, Universal Periodic Review Branch, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his opening remarks, noted that the Committee’s seventy-third session was occurring at a crucial moment for the treaty body system, confronted with unprecedented challenges to fulfil its mandate. Recalling the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ letter of 30 April concerning the shortfall in funding and possible cancellation of their session scheduled for later in 2019, Mr. Magazzeni said that the High Commissioner, along with the Secretary-General, were doing their utmost to minimize the potential unprecedented impact of financial cuts on the treaty bodies system. On 18 June, she had confirmed that their third session in 2019 would take place, however, there remained a critical shortfall in staffing of the Treaties Branch. The upcoming 2020 review of the treaty bodies system was a very timely opportunity to find a more durable solution to providing the necessary resources it needed, Mr. Magazzeni said.

This year marked the fortieth anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the one hundredth anniversary of the International Labour Organization, he continued, recalling that at its one hundredth and eighth session held in June 2019, the International Labour Organization Centenary Declaration for the Future of World had been adopted. It declared that the organization must direct its efforts at achieving gender equality at work through a transformative agenda, including equal remuneration for women and men for work of equal value and a more balanced sharing of family responsibilities and a better work-life balance. At the same session, a Convention and Recommendation concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work had been adopted, which recognized that those phenomena could constitute a human rights violation. At its ongoing forty-first session, the Human Rights Council, in the context of its annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women, had addressed the themes of violence against women in the world of work and the rights of older women and their economic empowerment, Mr. Magazzeni said, recalling that the Council had also taken up the issue of women’s rights and climate change, in which a member of this Committee had taken part. In addition, several draft resolutions were before the Council for adoption next week, including on eliminating violence against women and girls, eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and girls, and on equal pay, among others.

The Committee would, during its current session, conduct dialogues with seven States parties; meet with United Nations specialized agencies, other international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and national human rights institutions; convene a panel on 8 July to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Convention; consider a draft report of a confidential inquiry into grave or systematic violations of the Convention; discuss the outcome of the thirty-first annual meeting of Chairs of the human rights treaty bodies, in particular in relation to the 2020 review of the treaty bodies system; and would work on a host of other items related to follow-up, general recommendations, individual communications, and inquiries under the Optional Protocol, as well as discuss the implementation of the General Assembly resolution 68/268 on treaty bodies strengthening, concluded Mr. Magazzeni, wishing the Committee a very successful and productive session.

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

HILARY GBEDEMAH, Committee Chairperson, said that the number of States parties to the Convention remained at 189, while after the ratification by Malta, Marshall Islands and Thailand, the number of States parties to the Optional Protocol now stood at 112. The number of States which had accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention concerning the Committee’s meeting time had increased from 78 to 79 after the acceptance by Thailand; acceptance by 126 States parties to the Convention were required to bring the amendment into force. Since the beginning of the last session, seven States parties had submitted their periodic reports, namely Azerbaijan, Denmark, Eritrea, Gabon, Maldives, Nicaragua and South Africa, said the Chair, proceeding to inform the Committee about her intersessional activities.

Committee Experts provided an update on their respective activities during the intersessional period.

Follow-up Reports

LIA NADARAIA, Committee Rapporteur, briefed the Committee about the status of the follow-up reports received in response to the Committee’s concluding observations and recalled that during the seventy-second session, she had met with the representative of Iceland. At the end of that session, follow-up letters outlining the outcome of assessments of follow-up reports had been sent to Argentina, Estonia, Ghana, Lebanon, Netherlands and Uruguay; first reminders regarding an overdue follow-up report had been sent to Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Burundi. The Committee had received follow-up reports from Albania with a six-month delay, Belarus with a one-month delay, Canada with a three-month delay, El Salvador on time, Honduras with a one-month delay, Switzerland with a one-month delay, and Trinidad and Tobago with a seven-month delay. During the current session, first reminders regarding the submission of follow-up reports should be sent to Ireland, Micronesia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.


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CECAW19/014E