Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

12 March 1999

Commission on Status of Women
Forty-third Session
14th Meeting (AM)


Text on Rights of Palestinian Women Approved by Vote of 33-1-4

The Commission on the Status of Women this morning urged governments to take all necessary measures to strengthen women's economic independence and to protect and promote their human rights and fundamental freedoms in order to allow them to better protect themselves from HIV infection. It took that action by one of five draft texts approved this morning.


By a vote of 33 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 4 abstentions, (Bolivia, Côte d'Ivoire, Norway and Uganda), the Commission approved a resolution on Palestinian women, to be submitted to the Economic and Social Council for adoption. (See Annex for details of the vote.) Statements in explanation of vote were made by the representatives of Cuba, Israel, Philippines, United States, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Norway, Russian Federation, and Yemen.

By that terms of that text, the Council would stress its support for the Middle East peace process and the need for speedy and full implementation of the agreements already reached between the parties. It would also demand that Israel comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments in order to protect the rights of the Palestinian women and their families.


The Commission then took up the draft resolution on Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/1999/L.9), which it would recommend to the Economic and Social Council for adoption.

Under its provisions, the Council would stress its support for the Middle East peace process and the need for speedy and full implementation of the agreements already reached between the parties. It would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the regulations annexed to The Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, in order to protect the rights of the Palestinian women and their families. It would call upon Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties in the occupied Palestinian territory, in compliance with relevant United Nations resolutions.

Also by the text, Member States, financial organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and other relevant institutions would be urged to intensify their efforts to provide financial and technical assistance to Palestinian women for the creation of projects responding to their needs, especially during the transitional period. It would also request the Commission to continue to monitor and take action with regard to the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, in particular paragraph 260 concerning Palestinian women and children, and the Beijing Platform for Action.

The draft text is sponsored by Bolivia, Côte d'Ivoire, Guyana (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Norway and Uganda.

PATRICIA FLOR (Germany), the Commission Chairperson, said a recorded vote had been requested on the draft resolution.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said today's proposed resolution was entirely one-sided and politicized to the point that it damaged the credibility of the Commission as an instrument for promoting women's rights. Most notably, the draft unjustly singled out his country and sought to drag the Commission into the trenches of an irrelevant political attack. Moreover, the text was an attack that had already been launched in other forums, with no effort made to adapt or tailor the contents in any way. Preambular paragraph 5 in its entirety, was lifted from preambular paragraph 12 of a separate General Assembly resolution (A/RES/ES-190-6). Operative paragraph 2 was also lifted entirely from operative paragraph 5 of the same Assembly resolution.

By politically co-opting the Commission, he went on to say, the present resolution abandoned the stance of the Beijing Platform for Action which had wisely refrained from mentioning regional conflicts and had instead focused on the gender-related issues with which the Commission was meant to be concerned. Moreover, the political position that the resolution forced on the Commission was one-sided and misleading. That, unfortunately called for setting the record straight.

First, he continued, Israel did not suspend the Wye River Agreement. On the contrary, in the first phase of the Agreement, after the Palestinians fulfilled certain obligations, Israel did its part, redeploying from 491.4 square kilometres of West Bank territory. Now it was once again, the Palestinians' turn to fulfil certain key obligations of the second phase, including a long overdue work plan against terrorism, before Israel was obligated to even begin its own implementation. The Oslo accords had also forbidden the use of outside forums to get involved in the peace process.

He said today's initiative served no purpose but to hamper the cooperation that could lead to real peace and co-existence on the ground. That was why Israel urged the Commission and its members to vote against the resolution.

The representative of Cuba wanted to know why the text was going to a vote since it was a consensus resolution.

The CHAIRPERSON said a recorded vote had been requested by the United States.

The draft text was approved by a vote of 33 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 4 abstentions (Bolivia, Côte d'Ivoire, Norway, Uganda). (For details of the vote, see Annex.)

Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United States said her country's support for the rights of women certainly extended to the occupied territories. Unfortunately, parts of the text -- including some provisions which did not even directly relate to the issue of the status of women -- were unacceptable because they addressed the status of issues that the Israelis and Palestinians themselves had agreed would be the subject of direct negotiations in the Middle East peace process. The language of the
text was one-sided and would not advance the status or well-being of Palestinian women, the intended beneficiaries of the resolution.

The representative of Lebanon said he wished to affirm his country's strong support for the struggle of Palestinian women in the face of Israeli occupation. Palestinian rights and the rights of Palestinian women would not be fully implemented unless Israeli occupation came to an end. He also wished to reject the claims made by Israel in its statement on the current resolution.

The representative of Syria said his delegation repeated its full support of the Palestinian people and the struggle of Palestinian women to exercise all their rights. Adoption of the resolution was proof of the international community's support of Palestinian women. His delegation would have liked the draft resolution to mention the peace process in its entirety as well as relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.

The representative of Iran said her delegation voted in favour of the draft, however, that affirmative vote should not be construed as a recognition of Israel by her country.

Representative of Norway said her county was concerned about the situation of the Palestinian people and Palestinian women. That concern was the basis for the continued support Norway has given to the Palestinian people. Her country also paid special attention to involve Palestinian women in the development process. It continued to be concerned with the lack of progress, but difficulties in the peace process should be solved by the parties themselves. The Commission was not the right forum for dealing with issues in the peace process.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the status of Palestinian women went along with the advancement of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, and the observance by parties of earlier reached agreements and implementation of all assumed obligations.

The representative of Yemen said her delegation supported the rights of Palestinian women to self-determination and it supported their struggle.


Vote on Palestinian Women

The draft resolution on Palestinian Women (document E/CN.6/1999/L.9) was approved by a recorded vote of 34 in favour to 1 against with 4 abstentions, as follows:

Against: United States.

Abstain: Bolivia, Côte d'Ivoire, Norway, Uganda.

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For information media - not an official record