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Economic and Social Council
WOM/1622

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on the Status of Women
Fifty-first Session
13th Meeting* (PM)

AS SESSION ENDS, COMMISSION ON STATUS OF WOMEN APPROVES TEXTS ON PALESTINIAN

WOMEN, PROTECTION FROM HIV/AIDS, FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, FORCED MARRIAGE

Members Adopt Provisional Agenda; Elect Chair, Other Officials of Bureau


Background

The Commission on the Status of Women met this afternoon to take action on several draft resolutions and adopt its agreed conclusions.

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Action on Draft Resolutions

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The Chairperson then turned the Commission’s attention to the draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2007/L.2), saying it also contained no budget implications.

The representative of Pakistan made oral amendments to the text, after which the Chairperson said a recorded vote had been requested.

Asked by the representative of Pakistan who had asked for the vote, the Chairperson said the United States delegate had requested it.

The representative of Israel, making a general statement, said that, as in previous years, the Commission had before it a politically motivated text.  Since it did not address the Palestinians’ internal human rights abuses and continued terror -- which caused suffering to both Palestinian and Israeli women -- the draft left much to be desired.

Human Rights Watch had reported abuse of women, such as honour killings, she said, adding that other instances of human rights abuses had been reported to the Commission by the Secretary-General and others.  The deliberate exclusion of those instances distorted the draft resolution.  Indeed, it was in the interest of all parties to improve Palestinian women’s quality of life, but the current Palestinian leadership had not fulfilled it obligations, as stipulated by the Quartet.  If Hamas did not embrace its responsibility to end terror, women on both sides would continue to suffer.  The draft resolution was another reminder of the “stark contrast between reality and rhetoric on First Avenue”.

The Commission then approved the text by a recorded vote of 40 in favour to 2 against ( Canada, United States), with no abstentions.  (See Annex.)

The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of vote, said her country remained deeply concerned about the impact of the current crisis on Palestinian women and the entire Palestinian population.  The United States was the largest bilateral donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and contributed significant amounts to other programmes of the Organization, besides bilateral assistance to needy Palestinians.  However, it grieved for innocent Israelis, including Israeli women, who had suffered and died due to Palestinian terror attacks -- a reality that many did not recognize.  The international focus should be on helping both parties to maintain progress.  One-sided resolutions undermined the ability of the United Nations to play a constructive role in furthering peace, which would improve the lot of Palestinian women more than anything else.

The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the text was of a primarily humanitarian nature.  The European Union remained the largest contributor of assistance to the Palestinian people and had voted in favour of the text.  Deeply concerned about the impact of the conflict on all women in the region, including both Palestinian and Israeli women, the European Union underscored the need for an approach that took into consideration the impact of the conflict on all sides.  The role of women in the peace process was worthy of further investment, and the European Union invited the delegation of the Palestinian Permanent Observer Mission to engage in a dialogue on how best to address the issue at the United Nations.  The European Union’s vote today was without prejudice to future positions it might take in the Commission and other fora.

The representative of Canada said his country was committed to alleviating poverty and addressing socio-economic inequities throughout the world, including those affecting Palestinian women.  However, Canada was concerned about operative paragraph 4 of the text, which called on Israel to facilitate the return of refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes.  It seemed to prejudge negotiations on key issues arising from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which could only be addressed through a settlement on final status issues.

The observer for Palestine thanked those who had voted in favour of the draft resolution, especially the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.  The text sent a strong message of solidarity with the women of Palestine.  Though some said it was one-sided, it was not the text, but rather the situation as a whole, that was unbalanced.  The occupying Power had continued to carry out illegal measures with complete impunity for 40 years, causing misery to Palestinians, whom it held hostage.  The statement by its representative seemed to have distorted the issue at hand.  Israel should take care to examine its own domestic situation by looking at abuses occurring at the highest levels of its own Government.  The only way to guarantee the rights of Palestinian women was for Israel to end its occupation.

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The representative of Zambia requested the floor regarding the draft resolution on Palestinian women, saying she would have voted in favour of the text had her delegation been in the room.

The representative of Lesotho said she also would have voted in favour had she been present.

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ANNEX

Vote on Palestinian Women

The draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2007/L.2) was approved by a recorded vote of 40 in favour to 2 against, as follows:

In favour:  Algeria, Armenia, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Congo, Croatia, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Suriname, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania.

Against:  Canada, United States.

Absent:  Cameroon, Lesotho, Zambia.

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*     The 12th Meeting was closed.


For information media • not an official record
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