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        Economic and Social Council
9 August 2011

Original: English

Economic and Social Council
Substantive session of 2011
General segment

Provisional summary record of the 44th meeting
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Tuesday, 26 July 2011, at 10 a.m.

President: Mr. Rosocha (Acting Vice-President) ................................................................................................. (Slovakia)



Economic and environmental questions

Social and human rights questions

*Sub-items considered together.

In the absence of Mr. Kapambwe (Zambia), Mr. Rosocha (Slovakia), Acting Vice-President, took the Chair.

The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.


Economic and environmental questions (continued)

(l) Women and development (E/2011/27)

Social and human rights questions (continued)

(a) Advancement of women (E/2011/27 and E/2011/105)

The President said that agenda items 13 (l) and 14 (a) would be considered jointly.


Ms. González (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) ...


The draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women in the Commission’s report (E/2011/27) highlighted the particular difficulties faced by Palestinian women living under Israeli occupation. The right of Palestine to statehood, with its capital in East Jerusalem and within borders established by resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, should be fulfilled as soon as possible. The violation of the rights of the Palestinian people was the main obstacle to the development and social integration of Palestinian women.

Talks aimed at achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, for which the establishment of a Palestinian state was fundamental, should be resumed. Venezuela rejected the policy of the Israeli Government aimed at impeding the creation of an independent Palestinian state through the imposition of adverse economic and social conditions. Israel should comply with its international obligations, particularly under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and the international community should provide all the aid necessary to Palestinian women in order to improve their living conditions.


Recommendations contained in the report of the Commission on the Status of Women on its fifty-fifth session (E/2011/27)

Draft resolution entitled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women”

The President drew attention to Chapter I, Section B, of the report, which contained a draft resolution, entitled “Situation of assistance to Palestinian women”. The draft resolution had been adopted by the Commission by a recorded vote of 26 to 2 with 8 abstentions. A roll-call vote on the draft resolution before the Council had been requested. He asked if any delegation wished to make a general statement.

Mr. Adam (Observer for Israel) said that the draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women was a self-serving, political resolution. It was inappropriate to highlight the situation of Palestinian women above all other women. The draft resolution was politically motivated and did a disservice to the women of Palestine. If the sponsors and supporters of the draft resolution were truly concerned about Palestinian women, they would not have omitted to mention certain internal social conditions imposed on women within the Palestinian community. Recent reports by Human Rights Watch, for example, stated that Hamas had enlisted so-called morality police in the Gaza strip, who harassed, jailed and abused women for alleged infractions of Islamic law. Hamas also continued to assault NGOs that worked to promote and protect the empowerment of women.

The draft resolution also ignored the fact that over recent years, hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian women had met at the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Centre in Haifa, in order to share common strategies for success and foster a common vision of a brighter future. The Centre had been involved in training activities with Palestinian partners for over a decade. Each year around 25 Palestinian and Israeli women were brought together in a series of seminars for dialogue on forging friendships and building a common future. The Council should not be abused to promote the political interests of specific delegations.

Mr. Sados (Poland), speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU), said that the EU attached the utmost importance to the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, and continued to be deeply concerned about the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on all women and their families. While the draft resolution addressed a number of important issues, the EU considered that the country-specific questions covered in the draft should be dealt with in the context of the General Assembly. Any resolution dealing with the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women should adequately reflect the findings and recommendations contained in the relevant report by the Secretary-General.

Mr. Zuhairi (Observer for Palestine) said he believed the Council to be an appropriate forum for addressing the situation of women. The occupying power was violating the rights of the people of Palestine, in particular the right to self-determination, as enshrined in article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Israel must end its occupation if the women of Palestine were to be empowered. There could be no development in the absence of the promotion and protection of women’s rights, in particular their right to participation. The situation of women in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was particularly grave: women were imprisoned in Israeli jails and killed by the occupying forces. His delegation called on Israel to end its occupation and grant all Palestinian people their basic human rights.

Mr. Sammis (United States of America), speaking in explanation of vote before the voting, said that the United States was disappointed with the draft resolution and would vote against it. The United States was committed to supporting the people of Palestine in practical and effective ways, as demonstrated by his Government’s ongoing support for vital programmes to integrate gender into the public reform and development process and to create environments in which Palestinian women could advance and lead. The United States would continue to work with the Palestinian Authority, Israel and international partners to improve the lives of ordinary people. His delegation noted with concern that Hamas authorities had taken measures to restrict women’s freedom of movement, and that the enforcement of so-called ethical crimes in Gaza appeared to be increasing. The United States was troubled by the fact that the Commission on the Status of Women had added political elements and one-sided condemnations to the draft, which detracted from the real challenges at hand. The United States would continue to pursue a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-State solution, and was committed to working with the Quartet to foster an agreement that would produce a just and lasting peace.

A roll-call vote was taken.

In favour:
Argentina, Bahamas, Chile, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Zambia.

Canada, United States of America.

Australia, Belgium, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Norway, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The draft resolution was adopted by 24 votes to 2, with 21 abstentions.

Ms. Stone (Australia) said that Australia had consistently expressed its concern about the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including its concern for the situation of women. Australia had a strong interest in ensuring the equal participation of women in society and the integration of a gender perspective into international assistance programmes. Her delegation had decided to abstain from voting on the resolution, owing to its concern that the resolution unnecessarily introduced political issues into the work of the Council, did not reflect the responsibilities of all parties, and did not contribute constructively to the goal of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Australia welcomed recent improvements in the economic and security conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and urged both parties to ensure those gains continued. Direct negotiations should be held on final status issues, and both parties should refrain from action that undermined trust. Australia had been a strong and consistent supporter of the peace process and had made considerable contributions to humanitarian assistance and institution-building activities in Palestine.


The meeting rose at 12.30 p.m.

Corrections to this record should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to the Editing Unit, room E.4108, Palais des Nations, Geneva.

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