Question of Palestine home
9 June 2000
Twenty-third special session
Friday, 9 June 2000, at 3 p.m.
Mr. Gurirab ................................................(Namibia)
In the absence of the President, Mrs. Ismail (Nigeria), Vice-President, took the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Agenda items 8 and 9
Review and appraisal of progress made in the implementation of the twelve critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action
Further actions and initiatives for overcoming obstacles to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action
(League of Arab States) (
spoke in Arabic
The League of Arab States attaches the same degree of importance to the need to reach fair solutions in the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. It also attaches great importance to the elimination of all types of economic embargoes imposed upon Arab countries, with a view to eliminating their negative impact on women and children. It further emphasizes the need to free all prisoners of war in places of conflict.
We are convinced that the creation of a propitious environment for the achievement of international objectives for the advancement of the status of women and the achievement of equality and development in the twenty-first century means that we have to work hard to write off the debt of poor countries, stop the arms race, redirect available funds to consolidate sustainable development efforts, solve the unemployment problem and eliminate poverty, which affects women more severely.
The League of Arab States expresses the hope that considerable progress will be achieved at this session regarding priority issues for women. We reaffirm the plans resulting from Beijing and the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, as well as the clear and established Arab positions taken in this regard. We respect the diversity and differences between cultures, values and human convictions that govern human society, and we take them into consideration in recording the outcome of this session.
In conclusion, I emphasize that the success of this session will depend essentially on the commitment of participants to continue the implementation of the provisions and guidelines of the final document. However, the indicators for success are already obvious in the active interaction among women throughout the world and in the consolidation of an increased international awareness of the importance of women’s issues, their rights and their pivotal role in the family and society. This awareness creates a propitious atmosphere for the adoption of resolutions required internationally, nationally and regionally in order to implement the concepts and guidelines that have been agreed upon during this session. We are convinced that the results will be on a par with our hopes and with the aspirations of women throughout the world.
(Alliance for Arab Women): I have the privilege to speak on behalf of the Arab region, with thousands of non-governmental organizations working for women’s rights. We all share the same language, and are united by the same destiny.
At this important meeting, I would like to highlight the following points.
First, we honour everything that has been achieved through the Beijing Conference, the International Conference on Population and Development and all human rights instruments. We will therefore take these achievements forward, not backwards.
Secondly, significant steps have been taken since Beijing by almost all countries of the Arab region. Gains in critical areas of concern have been achieved. Efforts are still needed, however, in the following areas: ensuring the freedom of non-governmental organizations and providing the necessary support for their work; reviewing and changing existing legislation, including family laws, existing textbooks and media messages to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women; ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its optional protocol, and the Statute of the International Criminal Court, because there is no contradiction between them and Arab constitutions or between them and the right interpretation of Islam, which is the dominant religion in the region. Moreover, we call for more democracy — socially, economically and politically — to allow all women to participate effectively in all public decisions; we need protection for women activists and intellectuals against violence and reactionary campaigns, and against intimidation aimed against free thinking.
Further, problems in the areas of the economy, education and social insurance need to be addressed more vigorously. The needs of rural women, disadvantaged groups and others with special handicaps should get more attention. Other issues to be addressed include “honour killing”, reproductive health and immigrant women. Resources to address women’s needs have to be increased both nationally and internationally.
The region has witnessed immense problems, causing suffering among its women and affecting the efforts of Governments to implement the Platform for Action. Palestinian women have suffered, and are still suffering, from displacement and, along with Syrian women, are in distress as a result of the Israeli occupation. Lebanese women too have suffered from the continued invasion of the South. Iraqi, Sudanese and Libyan women are suffering as a result of economic sanctions and embargoes. We demand the honouring of United Nations resolutions and just peace; we demand the lifting of sanctions and the freeing of prisoners from all prisons.
At this time of change, there is nothing that cannot be changed to enable women to exercise their rights more fully and to carry out their responsibilities more effectively. Such changes can happen through conscientious, purposeful social action, through the provision of information and with the support of legitimacy. If all of us — non-governmental organizations, Governments and the business sector — assume our responsibilities; if the media become the messenger rather than the message; if we restore belief in democracy: then we, men and women, may be able to live and let live, and to love and be loved.
We have heard the last speaker in the debate on agenda items 8 and 9.
In view of the fact that the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole has not completed its work, I shall now suspend this meeting, which will resume immediately following the conclusion of the work of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole.
The meeting was suspended at 10.55 p.m.