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COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN OPENS ITS SIXTY-EIGHTH SESSION IN GENEVA

23 October 2017

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this morning opened its sixty-eighth session, hearing a statement by Carla Edelenbos, Chief of the Petitions and Inquiries Section, Human Rights Treaties Branch, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopting its agenda and programme of work for the session.

Aruna Devi Narain from Mauritius made her solemn declaration as a newly appointed Committee Member. Ms. Narain replaced Pramila Patten following her appointment as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflict earlier this year.

Ms. Edelenbos, in her opening remarks, welcomed new Committee member Aruna Devi Narain from Mauritius and congratulated Ayse Feride Acar on her re-election on 10 October as President of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), which monitored the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, or the Istanbul Convention, for another two-year term. Ms. Edelenbos highlighted the Committee’s important work on communications, noting that the General Recommendation n°35 on gender-based violence against women adopted in July 2017 in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Šimonovic, provided a strong normative reference for the work on individual communications and represented a powerful legal tool and policy to tackle gender-based violence.

Ms. Edelenbos said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights commended the Committee on the concrete steps taken to promote the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: the imminent revision of the reporting guidelines to encourage systematic reporting by States parties on the achievement of relevant Sustainable Development Goals targets, the expert contribution to the shaping of methodologies for selected Sustainable Development Goals indicators, and global and national policy-making through substantive submissions to the High Level Political Forums in 2016 and in 2017. In closing, Ms. Edelenbos wished the Committee a productive sixty-eighth session during which the Committee would conduct dialogues with 12 States parties, potentially adopt a new General Recommendation on the right to education of women and girls, and undertake a first reading of its draft General Recommendation on the gender-related dimensions of disaster risk reduction in a changing climate.

Dalia Leinarte, Committee Chairperson, presented her report on inter-sessional activities and said that the number of States parties to the Convention remained at 189, and the number of States parties having accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1 of the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee remained at 71. The number of States parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention remained at 109. Four States parties had submitted their periodic reports since the last session, namely Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Samoa, Serbia and Turkmenistan, while Luxembourg had submitted its periodic report under the simplified reporting procedure.

The Committee then adopted the provisional agenda and organization of work for the sixty-eighth session, and heard reports on the status of the follow-up reports and on the pre-session working group for the sixty-eighth session, as well as updates on the activities conducted by the Committee Experts in the intersessional period.

The Committee’s sixty-eighth session will be held from 23 October to 17 November, during which it will review reports presented by Burkina Faso, Singapore, Paraguay, Nauru, Israel, Kuwait, Kenya, Oman, Norway, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Monaco and Guatemala. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.

The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.

The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. today to hold an informal public meeting with non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions with respect to Burkina Faso, Singapore, Paraguay and Nauru, whose reports will be reviewed this week.

Opening Statement CARLA EDELENBOS, Chief of the Petitions and Inquiries Section, Human Rights Treaties Branch, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, at the outset welcomed Aruna Devi Narain from Mauritius who had been appointed to replace Pramila Patten following her appointment as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflict earlier this year, and congratulated Ms. Ayse Feride Acar on her re-election on 10 October as President of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), which monitored the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, or the Istanbul Convention, for another two-year term.

Ms. Edelenbos then highlighted the Committee’s important work on communications, especially the putting in place of rigorous procedures and practices which had proven to be beneficial for the quality of the jurisprudence, as well as the landmark decisions that the Committee had adopted which had shown the diversity of aspects of life in which women faced discrimination: reproductive health, access to housing, domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment, maternity leave entitlements, access to employment and inheritance. The General Recommendation n°35 on gender-based violence against women adopted in July 2017 in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Šimonovic, provided a strong normative reference for the work on individual communications and represented a powerful legal tool and policy to tackle gender-based violence. During the current session, the Committee would launch its new General Recommendation on gender-based violence against women, noted Ms. Edelenbos.

Updating the Committee on recent developments in the area of human rights, Ms. Edelenbos said that the Human Rights Council had held its annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Council and its mechanisms at its thirty-sixth session in September 2017. During the discussion, the High Commissioner for Human Rights had raised concern that instead of increasing momentum towards greater rights for women, there were backlashes in many regions such as de-funding, restricting or criminalizing aspects of sexual and reproductive health, and stressed that for the Sustainable Development Goals to become a global gender agenda, there must be vigorous efforts to ensure that women, particularly marginalized women, participated in the development of policies that affected them. During the session, the Council had also adopted a resolution on the systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; held a panel discussion on the impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls; and appointed new members of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights commended the Committee on the momentum generated and the concrete steps taken to promote the 2030 Agenda, and especially the imminent revision of the Committee’s reporting guidelines to encourage systematic reporting by States parties on the achievement of relevant Sustainable Development Goals targets, the use of the Committee’s expertise to shape the methodologies for selected Sustainable Development Goals indicators, and including global and national policy-making through substantive submissions to the High Level Political Forums in 2016 and in 2017.

In closing, Ms. Edelenbos wished the Committee a productive sixty-eighth session during which the Committee would conduct dialogues with 12 States parties, potentially adopt a new General Recommendation on the right to education of women and girls, and undertake a first reading of its draft General Recommendation on the gender-related dimensions of disaster risk reduction in a changing climate.

Adoption of the Agenda and Organization of Work and the Report of the Chairperson The Committee adopted the provisional agenda and organization of work for the sixty-eighth session.

DALIA LEINARTE, Committee Chairperson, presenting her inter-sessional report, welcomed newly appointed Committee member Aruna Devi Narain from Mauritius and congratulated Ayse Feride Acar on her re-election on 10 October as President of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO). The number of States parties to the Convention remained at 189, and the number of States parties having accepted the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1 on the Convention concerning the meeting time of the Committee remained at 71. The Chair recalled that the acceptance by 126 States parties to the Convention was required for this amendment to enter into force. The number of States parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention remained at 109. Four States parties had submitted their periodic reports since the last session, namely Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Samoa, Serbia and Turkmenistan, while Luxembourg had submitted its periodic report under the simplified reporting procedure.

Turning to the activities conducted between the two sessions, Ms. Leinarte said that on 25 August, she had attended the day of general discussion on the right to equality and non-discrimination organized by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, while on 11 September she had participated in a panel on equal pay and the future of work at the University of Sydney, Australia. Furthermore, the Chair had presented the Committee’s report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly in New York on 5 October, and had engaged in an interactive dialogue with Member States. The presentation had focused on the engagement in furthering the impact of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Committee’s work on gender-based violence against women, and the treaty bodies strengthening process.

Committee Experts provided an update on their respective activities during the intersessional period.

Pre-sessional Working Group Report and the Follow-up NAÉLA GABR, Committee Expert, briefed the Committee on the pre-sessional working group for the sixty-eighth session, which had met from 6 to 10 March 2017 and had prepared list of issues with regard to the reports of Burkina Faso, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Kenya, Kuwait, Monaco, Nauru, Norway, Oman, Paraguay and Singapore. On a pilot basis, the Working Group had prepared a list of issues prior to the submission of the fifth periodic report of Liechtenstein under its optional simplified reporting procedure; this report was scheduled for review at the Committee’s seventieth session. The list of issues and questions, which had focused on themes covered by the Convention, had been transmitted to the States parties concerned, concluded Ms. Gabr.

HILARY GBEDEMAH, Committee Expert and Rapporteur on Follow-Up, said that previously, she had met with representatives of Benin, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone, whose responses had been positive and who had appreciated the information shared.

At the end of the sixty-seventh session, follow-up letters outlining the outcome of assessments of follow-up reports had been sent to Belgium, China, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Oman, Solomon Islands and Swaziland. First reminders regarding overdue follow-up reports had been sent to Azerbaijan, Eritrea, Gabon, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives and Tuvalu, and second reminders to Ghana, Guinea, Mauritania and Poland.

The Committee had received follow-up reports from Benin and Brunei Darussalam with delays, and from Slovenia and Spain on time. During the current session, first reminders regarding the submission of follow-up reports should be sent to Bolivia, Croatia, Namibia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal and Viet Nam, and second reminders to Azerbaijan, Eritrea, Gabon, Kyrgyzstan and Tuvalu.

For use of the information media; not an official record

CEDAW/17/28E

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