UNITED NATIONS COMMITTEE MONITORING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN TO HOLD FORTY-SECOND SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 20 OCTOBER TO 7 NOVEMBER 2008

Committee on Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women
16 October 2008
BACKGROUND RELEASE

Reports of Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, Ecuador, Uruguay, Kyrgyzstan, Slovenia,
Mongolia, Bahrain, El Salvador, Madagascar, Myanmar and Portugal to Be Reviewed


The Committee charged with ensuring that 185 States parties meet their obligations under a treaty that requires them to eliminate discrimination against women opens its three-week forty-second session – scheduled to run from 20 October to 7 November – next week at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women legally commit themselves to ending all forms of discrimination against women, be they political, economic, social, cultural, civil or of any other type. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a 23-person expert body established to monitor compliance with the treaty, will be considering State party reports required under the Convention to assess to what extent each State is meeting its obligations, and making recommendations aimed at implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

At this session, the Committee will review the reports of Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, Ecuador, Uruguay, Kyrgyzstan, Slovenia, Mongolia, Bahrain, El Salvador, Madagascar, Myanmar and Portugal on how those countries are implementing their obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In order to overcome its backlog in consideration of State party reports, the Committee will be meeting in two chambers simultaneously in order to consider 12 periodic reports, and will consider the initial and second periodic reports of Bahrain in plenary.

At the opening meeting, the Committee will adopt its agenda and organization of work, and hear a report by the Chairperson on activities undertaken during the intersessional period, as well as introductory statements on progress on draft General Recommendations on migrant women and on article 2 of the Convention (condemnation of discrimination against women and anti-discrimination policies), and on ways and means of expediting the work of the Committee.

The Committee and each of the 13 State parties presenting reports will have the opportunity to interact in a constructive dialogue on women's enjoyment of their human rights in that country. The outcome of that dialogue is the Committee's concluding observations, which recognize progress a State has made in implementing the Convention, detail the Committee's concerns about gaps in implementation or insufficient compliance with the provisions of the Convention, and contain recommendations on measures that can be taken by the State to achieve more complete and consistent application of the Convention. The Committee encourages wide dissemination of its concluding observations, which are made available on the CEDAW website ( http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CEDAW/Pages/CEDAWIndex.aspx) at the close of each session The observations will also be incorporated into the Committee's annual report to the General Assembly, which is also available on the Committee's website (http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx?ConvType=15&docType=36)

Also during its forty-second session, the Committee will also consider, in private, communications from individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation of their rights under the Convention by States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

Representatives of non governmental organizations can submit their own reports and present information to the Committee. Non governmental organizations will have the opportunity to address the Committee on Monday, 20 October and Monday, 27 October. National human rights institutions may also present reports to the Committee and address it orally in a separate meetings convened on those days. Those reports are made available on the Committee's Web page for its forty-second session at http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=351&Lang=en

In addition to these reports, the provisional agenda for the forty-second session, which includes background documents for the session, including the reports of States parties and supplementary information, can be found online at the address referenced above.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979, and entered into force on 3 September 1981. Often described as an international bill of rights for women, the Convention contains a preamble and 30 articles in which it defines discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. Since its entry into force, the Convention has achieved near-universal acceptance, with 185 States parties.

The Convention defines discrimination against women as "... any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field". By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including by incorporating the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system; abolishing all discriminatory laws and adopting appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women; establishing tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and ensuring elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

Optional Protocol to the Convention

On 22 December 2000, the Optional Protocol to the Convention entered into force, by which States parties recognize the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications submitted by individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation of their rights under the Convention.

To date, 92 of the Convention's 185 States parties have also accepted the Optional Protocol. Before the Committee will consider a complaint, it first must establish its admissibility under the terms of the Optional Protocol. The Optional Protocol also enables the Committee, upon the fulfilment of certain criteria, to undertake inquiries into possible grave or systematic violations of women's rights. Three of the States parties to the Protocol have chosen not to accept the Committee's inquiry competence.

Membership

The Committee is made up of 23 Experts of high moral standing and recognized competence in the field of women's rights. The following members, nominated by the States parties to serve in their personal capacity, have been elected to the Committee: Ferdous Ara Begum (Bangladesh); Magalys Arocha Dominguez (Cuba); Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani (Algeria); Saisuree Chutikul (Thailand); Dorcas Coker-Appiah (Ghana); Mary Shanthi Dairiam (Malaysia); Cornelis Flinterman (Netherlands); Naela Mohamed Gabr (Egypt); Françoise Gaspard (France); Ruth Halperin-Kaddari (Israel); Tiziana Maiolo (Italy); Violeta Neubauer (Slovenia); Pramila Patten (Mauritius); Silvia Pimentel (Brazil); Yoko Hayashi (Japan); Hanna Beate Schöpp-Schilling (Germany); Heisoo Shin (Republic of Korea); Glenda P. Simms (Jamaica); Dubravka Šimonoviæ (Croatia); Anamah Tan (Singapore); Maria Regina Tavares da Silva (Portugal); Zou Xiaoqiao (China). In 2007, one member resigned from the Committee, and the State party concerned has yet to nominate a replacement.

Ms. Simonovic is the Committee Chairperson; Ms. Mohamed Gabr, Ms. Gaspard and Ms. Simms are the Vice-Chairpersons; and Ms. Shanthi Dairiam is the Committee Rapporteur.


Tentative Timetable for Consideration of Reports

Following is a tentative timetable for the consideration of reports from States parties to the Convention during this session:

Tuesday, 21 October

Chamber A

10 a.m. Belgium: fifth and sixth periodic reports (CEDAW/C/BEL/6)

3 p.m. Belgium (continued)

Chamber B

10 a.m. Cameroon: second and third periodic reports (CEDAW/C/CMR/3)

3 p.m. Cameroon (continued)

Wednesday, 22 October

Chamber A

10 a.m. Canada: sixth and seventh periodic reports (CEDAW/C/CAN/7)

3 p.m. Canada (continued)

Chamber B

10 a.m. Ecuador: sixth and seventh periodic reports (CEDAW/C/ECU/7)

3 p.m. Ecuador (continued)

Thursday, 23 October

Chamber A

10 a.m. Uruguay: seventh periodic report (CEDAW/C/URY/7)

3 p.m. Uruguay (continued)

Chamber B

10 a.m. Kyrgyzstan: third periodic report (CEDAW/C/KGZ/3)

3 p.m. Kyrgyzstan (continued)

Friday, 24 October

Chamber A

10 a.m. Slovenia: fourth periodic report (CEDAW/C/SVN/4)

3 p.m. Slovenia (continued)

Chamber B

10 a.m. Mongolia: fifth, sixth and seventh periodic reports (CEDAW/C/MNG/7)

3 p.m. Mongolia (continued)

Thursday, 30 October

10 a.m. Bahrain: initial and second periodic reports (CEDAW/C/BHR/2)

3 p.m. Bahrain (continued)

Friday, 31 October

Chamber A

10 a.m. El Salvador: seventh periodic report (CEDAW/C/SLV/7)

3 p.m. El Salvador (continued)

Chamber B

10 a.m. Madagascar: second to fifth periodic reports (CEDAW/C/MDG/5)

3 p.m. Madagascar (continued)

Monday, 3 November

Chamber A

10 a.m. Myanmar: second and third periodic reports (CEDAW/C/MMR/3)

3 p.m. Myanmar (continued)

Chamber B

10 a.m. Portugal: sixth and seventh periodic reports (CEDAW/C/PRT/7)

3 p.m. Portugal (continued)

Friday, 7 November 2008

4 p.m. Adoption of the report of the Committee on its forty-second session; public closing

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