United Nations Committee monitoring Discrimination against Women to hold forty-seventh session in Geneva from 4 to 22 October 2010

Committee on Elimination of Discrimination
against Women

30 September 2010
BACKGROUND RELEASE

Reports of the Bahamas, Burkina Faso, the Czech Republic, Malta, Tunisia and Uganda
to Be Reviewed and Exceptional Report of India to be Considered

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Committee charged with ensuring that 186 States parties meet their obligations under a treaty that requires them to eliminate discrimination against women, opens its forty-seventh session next week at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The three-week session is scheduled to run from 4 to 22 October 2010.

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 of a political, economic, social, cultural, civil or other form. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a 23-person expert body established to monitor compliance with the treaty, will be considering States 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 the Bahamas, Burkina Faso, the Czech Republic, Malta, Tunisia and Uganda on how those countries are implementing their obligations under the Convention. The Committee will also consider an exceptional report by India concerning the impact of the Gujarat massacres on women.

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 period between sessions.

The Committee and each of the seven States 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 should 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 webpage (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CEDAW/Pages/CEDAWIndex.aspx) at the close of each session.

During the session, in addition to the consideration of country reports, the Committee will also consider cases under the Optional Protocol to the Convention. States parties to the Optional Protocol recognize the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications submitted by or on behalf of individuals, under the jurisdiction of the State party, claiming to be victims of violations set forth in the Convention. The Optional Protocol entered into force on 22 December 2000 and currently has 99 States parties.

The Committee will also further consider general recommendations on clarifying the scope and meaning of article 2 of the Convention, on older women and protection of their human rights, and on the economic consequences of marriage, family relations and their dissolution. The Committee will also consider reports and information received under its follow-up procedure to concluding observations.

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, 4 October and Monday, 11 October, in the afternoon. National human rights institutions may also present reports to the Committee and address it orally in separate meetings convened on those days. Those reports are made available on the Committee's Web page for its forty-seventh session at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws47.htm.

In addition to these reports, the provisional agenda for the forty-seventh 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 186 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, 99 of the Convention's 186 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: Nicole Ameline (France); Ferdous Ara Begum (Bangladesh); Magalys Arocha Dominguez (Cuba); Violet Tsisiga Awori (Kenya); Barbara Evelyn Bailey (Jamaica); Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani (Algeria); Niklas Bruun (Finland); Saisuree Chutikul (Thailand); Dorcas Coker-Appiah (Ghana); Cornelis Flinterman (Netherlands); Naela Mohamed Gabr (Egypt); Ruth Halperin-Kaddari (Israel); Yoko Hayashi (Japan); Indira Jaising (India); Soledad Murillo de la Vega (Spain); Violeta Neubauer (Slovenia); Pramila Patten (Mauritius); Silvia Pimentel (Brazil); Victoria Popescu (Romania); Zohra Rasekh (Afghanistan); Dubravka ҆imonovi√¶ (Croatia); Xiaoqiao Zou (China). It is noted that one expert resigned and a replacement has not yet been nominated by the State party concerned.

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:

Monday, 4 October

10 a.m. Opening of Session

Tuesday, 5 October

10 a.m. Burkina Faso: sixth periodic report (CEDAW/C/BFA/6)

3 p.m. Burkina Faso (continued)

Wednesday, 6 October

10 a.m. Bahamas: combined initial through fourth periodic reports (CEDAW/C/BHS/1-4)

3 p.m. Bahamas (continued)

Thursday, 7 October

10 a.m. Tunisia: combined fifth and sixth periodic reports (CEDAW/C/TUN/5-6)

3 p.m. Tunisia (continued)

Tuesday, 12 October

10 a.m. Malta: fourth periodic report (CEDAW/C/MLT/4)

3 p.m. Malta (continued)

Wednesday, 13 October

10 a.m. Uganda: combined fourth through seventh periodic reports (CEDAW/C/UGA/4-7)

3 p.m. Uganda (continued)

Thursday, 14 October

10 a.m. Czech Republic: combined fourth and fifth periodic reports (CEDAW/C/CZE/4-5)

3 p.m. Czech Republic (continued)

Friday, 15 October

10 a.m. India: Exceptional Report (CEDAW/C/IND/SP.1)

Friday, 22 October

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

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