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


Commission on the Status of Women
Forty-ninth Session
19th & 20th Meetings (AM & PM)
WOM/1504
11 March 2005

COMMISSION ON STATUS OF WOMEN ADOPTS 10 WIDE-RANGING RESOLUTIONS,

BUT FAILS TO CONCLUDE CURRENT SESSION

New Texts Concern Women’s Economic Advancement, Gender Mainstreaming,
Appointment of Special Rapporteur, Disaster Relief, Indigenous Women, Trafficking


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Background

The Commission on the Status of Women met today, in two meetings, to conclude its work.  First, it was expected to hear from the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women on the Division’s budget for the next biennium.  Following that, it would begin consideration this morning of all draft resolutions.  This afternoon, the Commission was expected to adopt its report and conclude the session, following which it would open its fiftieth session briefly for the purpose of electing the Bureau.

The draft resolutions before the Commission concerned:  women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS; eliminating demand for trafficking in women and girls; appointment of a special rapporteur on laws that discriminated against women; mainstreaming a gender perspective into national policies and programmes; integrating a gender perspective in post-disaster relief efforts, particularly in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster; situation of and assistance to Palestinian women; the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW); women’s economic advancement; indigenous women; and the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Draft Summaries

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The draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2005/L.7), sponsored by Jamaica on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, would have the Commission call on the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to exert all necessary efforts to ensure the full resumption of the peace process on its agreed basis, taking into account the common ground already gained.

The Commission would also call for measures for tangible improvement of the difficult situation on the ground and the living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families.

It would reaffirm that the Israeli occupation remained a major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the developing planning of their society, and it would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families.

In a related term, Israel would be called upon to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties, in compliance with relevant United Nations resolutions. 

The Commission would call on the international community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance and services, in an effort to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis being faced by Palestinian women and their families, and to helping the reconstruction of relevant Palestinian institutions.

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Action on Drafts

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The Commission then turned to the draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2005/L.7).

The representative of Jamaica, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that since the draft had been tabled, a number of changes had been made to the text.  In the seventh preambular paragraph, the word “attacks” had been replaced by the word “military operations”.  Preambular paragraph 7 had been split into two paragraphs.  Preambular paragraph 7 would recall the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on 9 July 2004 on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied territory, and recall also General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004.

Preambular paragraph 8 would recall the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and affirm that those human rights instruments must be respected in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem.  The changes had been the result of negotiations with interested delegations, and she hoped the text would be adopted by consensus.

The CHAIRPERSON informed the Commission that a recorded vote had been requested on the draft.

Statements before Vote

The representative of Luxembourg asked for clarification, noting that the representative of Jamaica had twice omitted the word Palestinian in her statement. 

The representative of Jamaica said the word “Palestinian” should have been included in the phrase “occupied territory” in the two paragraphs in question.

The representative of Israel said the resolution was political and one-sided.  It singled out Israel and was contradictory.  It also neglected to mention Israeli civilians deliberately targeted by Palestinian terrorists, and failed to condemn those acts of murder.  The year 2005 had begun as one of great opportunity for the people of the Middle East, first and foremost, for Israel and Palestine.  To ensure that that opportunity was not missed, Israel’s Government would soon implement its disengagement plan, which was designed to foster peace in the region.  Over the past weeks, it had released Palestinian prisoners, had provided increased entry permits for Palestinian workers, and would soon hand over control of major cities.  Only genuine dialogue would bring peace.  The draft represented an attempt to exploit the Commission for narrow political purposes unrelated to the advancement of women.  Israel urged members to oppose the draft.

Canada’s representative said his country had supported greater international attention to address the situation of women in armed conflict, including Palestinian women.  Canadian assistance demonstrated its commitment to help alleviate poverty and enhance the security of the Palestinian people.  He was deeply concerned that the living conditions of Palestinian women had been affected by Israeli operations.  In that regard, it was encouraging to witness renewed security cooperation, the transfer of control of cities and preparation for Israeli withdrawal, which should result in improved conditions throughout the West Bank and Gaza.  He would have liked to see those developments better reflected in the resolution.

He said Canada would abstain, largely in part due to operative paragraph 4.  Canada had interest in the search for a fair resolution of the Palestinian issue.  That solution should be negotiated in the context of a comprehensive peace agreement.  It was not helpful to include language that was unrelated to its main purpose.  He was also concerned about language that singled out acts of violence.   The resolution should acknowledge the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority to protect the rights of women and children.

The United States representative said she would vote “no” on the resolution.  The United States remained concerned about the impact of the current crisis on Palestinian women.  It was the largest national donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and contributed significant amounts to other United Nations programmes providing assistance to Palestinian women.  It also provided bilateral assistance.

At the same time, the United States grieved for innocent Israelis, including Israeli women, who had suffered and died from Palestinian attacks.  That was a reality which many did not recognize.  The issue of territory and refugees must be negotiated between the two sides.  The United States was committed to the Quartet in its work for the realization of the vision of two States living side by side.  At a moment of genuine but fragile opportunity, the international focus should be on helping both parties maintain that progress.  Such resolutions only undermined the United Nations ability to help promote peace and help the lot of Palestinian women and all people caught up in the conflict.

The text on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women was then adopted, as orally revised, by a recorded vote of 38 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 2 abstentions (Canada, Iceland).  (See Annex.)

Statements after Vote

The representative of Japan welcomed the earnest peace efforts made by Israel and Palestine which were seizing an historic opportunity for peace.  If the Middle East question were to be resolved, it was necessary that both countries make efforts to achieve peace.   She hoped the situation of women would be improved through those efforts.

Making a general statement, the representative of the Russian Federation welcomed the choices of the Palestinian administration and the fact that the head of the Palestinian Authority had received a mandate to continue democratic reforms, work towards a political settlement of the situation and to act decisively in the face of terror.  The main task today was to ensure that there would be a cessation of the violent confrontation, the restoration of substantive dialogue between Israel and Palestine, and the implementation of the Road Map, including Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.  Those steps would lead to the creation of a viable PalestinianState living in peace with Israel.

The observer for Palestine expressed appreciation to the Group of 77, as well as to all those who had adopted the text.  She hoped their vision of the situation would become a reality.  With such positive indices as the return to the negotiating table, she hoped that what had been said would become a reality.  Unfortunately, all military checkpoints were still in place in the Gaza Strip.  It had been divided into three sectors, and the establishment of settlements continued.  In addition, the separation wall made the lives of some 500,000 Palestinians “hell” as it distanced them from their homes, livelihoods and schools.  She hoped that peace would prevail and the situation of Palestinian women would improve.

The representative of the Niger hoped that mechanisms could be identified so that lasting peace could be established in the region.  It was the living conditions of women and children that had to be dealt with, regardless of where they were, in Palestine or Israel.  The Commission had to use such mechanisms to ensure that women be given decent living conditions.  That was what the resolution should do.

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ANNEX

Vote on Assistance to Palestinian Women

The draft resolution on the situation of, and assistance to, Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2005/L.7) was adopted by a recorded vote of 38 in favour to 1 against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Botswana, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania.

Against:  United States.

Abstain:  Canada, Iceland.

Absent:  Bolivia, El Salvador, Gabon, Kazakhstan.

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For information media - not an official record