UN: ECOSOC adopts texts on Palestinian women, violence against girls from report of the Commission on Status of Women

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Although voted against by Canada and the US, a resolution was adopted calling for continued international assistance to Palestinian women and their families.
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a resolution on 24 July 2007 from the report of the Commission on the Status of Women in which it called upon 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 approved a text on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.
In the resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, which was adopted by a roll-call vote of 38 in favour, two against and one abstention, the Council called upon the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to exert all the necessary efforts to ensure the full resumption of the peace process on its agreed basis, taking into account the common ground already gained, and called for intensified measures to be taken for tangible improvement of the difficult situation on the ground and the living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families. It also called upon 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 help in the reconstruction of relevant Palestinian institutions.

Commenting on the resolution were Pakistan, the United States, Costa Rica and Israel.

The Council agreed to transmit the conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child to the commemorative high-level planning meeting devoted to the follow-up to the outcome of the special session on children. It also took note of the report of the Commission on the Status of Women on its fifty-first session, which contained the abovementioned resolution and decision, and adopted the provisional agenda and documentation for the fifty-second session of the Commission.

The Council heard an introduction to a draft resolution on support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations. Cuba introduced the draft and Bolivia and Venezuela commented on it.

At the beginning of the afternoon, the Council discussed issues concerning the mainstreaming of a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system; women and development; and the advancement of women.

Wariara Mbugua, Principal Social Affairs Officer at the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, introducing the joint agenda items, said that the Council and its subsidiary bodies had been at the forefront for setting policies and strategies as well as generating commitments of Member States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector for poverty eradication and sustainable development. It had also been a strong champion of gender mainstreaming in all policies, programmes, areas and sectors as the main strategy to achieving gender equality. Reaching these goals would not be possible without a strong mandate for mainstreaming a gender perspective in financing for development.

In the course of the general discussion, most of the speakers welcomed the progress made in recent years on mainstreaming gender equality, but noted that a clear gap remained between the commitments and the effective implementation by countries. Migrant and indigenous women were particularly vulnerable groups. Gender equality was essential for sustainable and socio-economic development. Concerted efforts should be enhanced to build individual and organizational capacity for gender mainstreaming, as well as to ensure gender equality and the empowerment of women at all levels.

Speaking in the general discussion were representatives from Kazakhstan, Mexico, Belarus, Iraq, Sudan, Russian Federation, Chile, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Bolivia, Guyana, Ecuador and Paraguay.

ECOSOC will resume its meeting on Wednesday, 25 July at 10 a.m., when it will consider a wide range of issues including, among others, the implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits; economic and environmental questions with regard to science and technology for development; social and human rights questions; narcotic drugs; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; human rights; and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Action on Resolution and Decisions

With regards to agreed conclusions on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child, adopted by the Commission on the Status of Women and contained in the report of the Commission on the Status of Women: Report on the fifty-first session E/2007/27, the Council agreed to transmit these to the commemorative high-level planning meeting devoted to the follow-up to the outcome of the special session on children. These conclusions cover the topic of the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.

In a resolution contained in the report of the Commission on the Status of Women and entitled situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, adopted by a roll-call vote with 38 in favour to 2 against, with 1 abstention, the Council calls upon the concerned parties, as well as the international community, to exert all the necessary efforts to ensure the full resumption of the peace process on its agreed basis, taking into account the common ground already gained, and calls for intensified measures to be taken for tangible improvement of the difficult situation on the ground and the living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families; demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Regulations annexed to The Hague Convention IV of 18 October 1907 and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families; calls upon Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties, in compliance with the relevant United Nations resolutions; calls upon 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 help in the reconstruction of relevant Palestinian institutions; and requests the Secretary-General to continue to review the situation, to assist Palestinian women by all available means, including those laid out in the report of the Secretary-General on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, and to submit to the Commission on the Status of Women at its fifty-second session a report, including information provided by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.

The results of the vote were as follows:

In favour (38): Algeria, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Cape Verde, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand and United Kingdom.

Against (2): Canada and United States.

Abstention (1): Angola.

In a decision contained in the report of the Commission on the Status of Women on its fifty-first session and provisional agenda and documentation for the fifty-second session of the Commission, adopted without a vote, the Council takes note of the report of the Commission on the Status of Women on its fifty-first session and approves the provisional agenda and documentation for the fifty-second session of the Commission.

General Comments and Explanation of Votes Before and After the Vote

BILAL HAYEE (Pakistan), speaking in a general comment, said that Pakistan introduced this draft resolution in March 2007. The resolution expressed concern about the grave situation of women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a result of the unlawful construction of the wall. The resolution also called for efforts to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis, which the Palestinian women and their families were facing. Pakistan expressed its hope that the draft resolution would be adopted.

LORIE SHESTACK (United States), in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said the United States remained deeply concerned about the situation of the Palestinian people, including Palestinian women. However, it also deeply grieved for the suffering of Israeli women as a result of Palestinian terrorist attacks. One-sided resolutions such as these made less attainable the peace of Palestinian women and all of those caught up in the conflict.

LAURA THOMPSON (Costa Rica), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that Costa Rica actively promoted the rights of all women and that was the reason why it had voted in favour of the resolution. Palestinian women were in a dire situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The international community and United Nations bodes must continue their efforts to strengthen the rights of all women in the world regardless of their nationality.

NOA FURMAN (Israel), in a general comment, said the adoption of the resolution was cause for dismay, as it was not universally applicable in nature. It turned a humanitarian issue into a political one, monopolizing attention for Palestinian women. This resolution was not the tool for improving the life of Palestinian women, as it ignored internal factors in Palestinian society that negatively impacted women, as well as the impact of terrorism on both Palestinian and Israeli women. Israel was currently working to reduce hostilities and increase coordination, and it was hoped this would result in better economic conditions for all. Selective resolutions such as these would not aid in this task.

Introduction of Resolution on Implementation of Declaration of Independence to Colonial Countries by the United Nations

MARIA DEL CARMEN HERRERA CASEIRO (Cuba), introducing draft resolution L.19 entitled support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations, said the draft resolution inter alia reaffirmed that the recognition by the United Nations organs of the legitimacy of the aspirations of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to exercise their right to self-determination entailed, as a corollary, the extension of all appropriate assistance to those peoples. The resolution urged the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system that had not yet provided assistance to Non-Self-Governing Territories to do so as soon as possible.

The draft resolution welcomed the continuing efforts made by the United Nations Development Programme in maintaining close liaison among the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system; requested the administering powers concerned to facilitate the participation of Non-Self-Governing Territories in the relevant meetings and conferences of the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system so that the Territories could benefit from the related activities of those agencies and organizations; and recommended that all Governments intensify their efforts in the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system of which they were members to accord priority to the question of providing assistance to the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

JAVIER LOAYZA (Bolivia) said that it would like to echo what had been said at the beginning of the meeting. The approval of the resolution before the Council was a new challenge for the world’s public opinion. The report of the President of the Council gave an overview. The United Nations Development Programme was the main driving force behind the proposal. Constructive results had been achieved. One must strive towards sustainable development so that the resources provided could show how incredible the action of the international community was.

This assistance had been very visible when coping with disasters and protecting the environment. The actions were positive and reflected the necessity to meet the basic will of the population. The work of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in the area should be supported. Bolivia was convinced of the need to have a strong presence in this respect and other United Nations specialized bodies could also help in their respective areas with assistance programmes. Bolivia was very pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution before the Council.

DIEGO IBARRA MARTINEZ (Venezuela) said Venezuela unflaggingly supported the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, and the granting of independence to colonized peoples. Colonization should be eliminated once and for all, and the inhabitants of the Non-Self-Governing Territories should be supported. Steps should be taken to ensure and guarantee the rights of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, including the rights over the land, and the right to control resources. There was a need to ensure that the United Nations Secretariat and the Secretariat of the specialized agencies should provide programmes to cover economic and social, as well as other forms of aid, that were required by the Non-Self-Governing Territories. This should be followed by full self-determination, including independence for these Territories.

There was a pressing need to implement this issue. The Council had played an important role for the coordination of development assistance and efforts to reduce vulnerability in the Non-Self-Governing Territories, and this should continue.

Documents

The Council has before it the report of the Commission on the Status of Women (E/2007/27), containing matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention, including agreed conclusions on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child; draft resolution for adoption by the Council; situation of and assistance to Palestinian women; draft decision for adoption by the Council; report of the Commission on the Status of Women on its fifty-first session and provisional agenda and documentation for the fifty-second session of the Commission; matters brought to the attention of the Council; resolutions on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS; on ending female genital mutilation and on forced marriage of the girl child as well as a decision on documents considered by the Commission on the status of Women.

The Council has before it the report of the President of the Council on consultations with the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (E/2007/47), which sets out information submitted by the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system on their activities with regard to the implementation of the Declaration. In particular, it looks at the activities undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme, the International Labour Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Food Programme in this area.

The Council has before it the report of the Secretary-General on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system, (E/2007/64), providing a summary of progress made so far in building capacities of staff of the United Nations system in gender mainstreaming and highlights the related challenges. The review of implementation of resolution 2006/36, conducted by the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, revealed that, while progress has been made in capacity-building by United Nations entities, there is considerable variation among United Nations entities with regard to efforts to strengthen gender mainstreaming capacities systematically. A gap remains between understanding of basic gender mainstreaming concepts and the actual day-to-day work of staff. Enhanced concerted efforts are needed to build individual and organizational capacity for gender mainstreaming.

The Council has before it the report of the Secretary-General on implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations (A/62/65), which contains a list of specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations to which the provisions of the resolution apply and whose attention the Secretary-General drew to the resolution.

The Council has before it the report of the Secretary-General on assistance to the Palestinian People (A/62/82-E/2007/66), which says, during the reporting period (May 2006-April 2007), the Palestinian economy suffered a significant decline and the socio-economic and humanitarian conditions of the population worsened. Many donors reviewed their assistance policy to the Palestinian Authority, in the context of the three principles spelled out by the Middle East Quartet in January 2006. At the same time, the Government of Israel continued to withhold the payment of the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, with the exception of one transfer early in 2007. As a result, and despite increased levels of aid, the Palestinian Authority has been facing a worsening fiscal crisis, which has exacerbated the already precarious situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

A note by the Secretary-General (E/2007/75) entitled results of the thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth sessions of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, sets out the results, including decisions taken, of the thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth sessions of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which were held in New York from 15 January to 2 February 2007 and from 14 May to 1 June 2007, respectively. The Committee’s annual report, covering its thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth sessions (A/62/38), will be submitted to the General Assembly at its sixty-second session.

A document (E/2007/79) entitled report of the Executive Board of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women on its fourth session, notes that the Board held its fourth session on 2 and 30 May 2007. The Executive Board considered: (a) the implementation of the programme of work during the period November 2006-April 2007; (b) the proposed strategic framework for the period 2008-2011; (c) the proposed workplan and operational budget for 2008; (d) the financial situation of the Institute; (e) the optimal staffing structure for the Institute; and (f) the proposed networking strategy. In addition, the Executive Board considered it important to assess the progress of and challenges facing the Institute since its revitalization in 2004. In that regard, the INSTRAW secretariat had prepared a comprehensive report and future projections, which became the basis of the Board’s general recommendations. To enhance the workplan and networking effort of the Institute, the Executive Board approved two decisions. The first decision was aimed at enhancing the Institute’s Strategic Framework for the period 2008-2011, and the second decision was on the proposed networking strategy, which aimed at strengthening the Institute’s partnership with national focal points.

General Discussion on Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective into all UN Policies, Women and Development and Advancement of Women

WARIARA MBUGUA, Principal Social Affairs Officer at the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, introducing the joint agenda items that preceded the general discussion, said that in its comprehensive Ministerial Declaration of the high-level segment (E/2007/L.13), the Council had stressed that all countries should promote gender equality and empowerment as called for in the Beijing Platform for Action and the Outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. The Council and its subsidiary bodies had been at the forefront of setting policies and strategies as well as generating commitments of Member States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector for poverty eradication and sustainable development. It had also been a strong champion of gender mainstreaming in all policies, programmes, areas and sectors as the main strategy in achieving gender equality. Reaching these goals would not be possible without a strong mandate for mainstreaming a gender perspective in financing for development. Member States of ECOSOC would have the opportunity to provide gender-related substantive inputs to the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in September 2007, among other meetings.

As a first step towards the goal of engendering financing for development, the Eighth Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers’ Meeting on “Financing for Gender Equality for Development and Democracy” held in Uganda in June 2007 brought the policy discussion to a new level, she said. Its outcome stressed the critical importance of the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus to the achievement of the goals of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals. The meeting underscored the importance of developing indicators for tracking the money allocated by governments and donors for gender equality and women’s empowerment; building women’s capacity to access markets and develop products; and creating an enabling environment for them to scale up their businesses, enter global markets and ensure their participation in trade policy formulation and negotiations. Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women would be the priority theme for the fifty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2008.

While acknowledging that there now existed policies and legal frameworks to protect and promote the rights of the girl child, the Commission noted that the violence against women and girls continued unabated in every continent, country and culture and took a devastating toll on women’s and girls’ lives, on their families, and on civil society as a whole, she said. As the Secretary-General’s report on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes on the United Nations system noted, the United Nations system had made considerable progress over the past one year. The report was based on data obtained from 40 United Nations entities’ responses to a questionnaire. Entities had begun to invest consistently in training and capacity building as well as to strengthen gender mainstreaming with new tools and approaches. However, there were clear gaps that continued to persist and where the United Nations system must put greater efforts in the future. Greater interagency action on mainstreaming a gender perspective into programmes, policies and activities of United Nations entities was needed.

ZHANAR KULZHANOVA (Kazakhstan) said the centrality of gender in development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals was doubtless, however, problems related to the status of women and gender equality remained an ongoing concern. Women continued to have unequal access to resources and opportunities, and continued to be victims of abuse, poverty, and discrimination. It was inevitable that development could not be well pursued without the participation of women. Countries should ensure equal opportunities for women and men to be part of economic development. Gender sensitive budgeting could be an effective tool for the advancement of the status of women, particularly those living in poverty.

It was important to continue to work on the integration of gender into national legislation and policies, as well as development programmes of the United Nations entities themselves, supported by the necessary budget allocations. Development for women was development for all. Thanks to the creation of adequate conditions, women would be able not only to improve their status but also to contribute, in a significant way, to the development of the entire international community.

MABEL GOMEZ OLIVER (Mexico) welcomed the work done by the Economic and Social Council so far to promote the status of women, particularly with regard to mainstreaming a gender perspective in the national policies and the United Nations system. Although the progress in recent years was welcomed, there was still a clear gap between the commitments and the effective implementation by countries. New challenges required the application of special programmes and policies for women. Migrant and indigenous women were particularly vulnerable groups. There was a lack of concrete results at the very heart of the organization, particularly in areas that were not directly linked to women’s issues. Therefore, monitoring mechanisms should be set up with regard to a mandatory training of United Nations personnel on gender issues and that would provide reliable statistics on the progress made.

Joint strategies between the organizations should be worked out. Mexico had on various occasions voiced its concern on fragmented efforts and inefficiency. In order to ensure that the United Nations had the right capacity to respect its international commitments, States had to conduct a comprehensive evaluation to identify the main shortcomings that must be remedied. The work done by all the international organizations dealing with that topic must be considered. There were significant obstacles to the implementation of international norms. Only if the goals set internationally on gender equity were achieved, could the Millennium Development Goals be achieved as well.

ZOYA KOLONTAI (Belarus) said equality between men and women was recognized by all States - the achievement of that equality was still to be reached. In Belarus, this was a particularly important issue, and the State worked to support women, children and families. A number of important plans had been drawn up in this regard, with a new National Plan with the aim of eliminating all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex in all areas of life. The equality of women in the workplace was encouraged, as was employment of women in areas traditionally reserved to men.

Many women occupied leading roles in the private sector in Belarus, and there were many women’s associations, which were fundamental with regards to the work done by civil society. Promoting the interests of the mother and child was of great interest in policy making. Belarus had been decisive in efforts to eliminate trafficking in women and children, with efforts to make sure that they could not become victims of trafficking by providing alternative activities for them.

MOHAMMAD SAHIB MAJIB (Iraq) said that Iraq wanted to address item 14a in particular. In this area of human rights in general, a great interest had been seen in this topic. Iraq was a pioneer in promoting the rights of women. Going back in Iraqi history, the country was party to the relevant Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Given the successive conflicts in Iraq, it had been difficult to implement the provisions of the Convention in full. But nowadays, additional training was provided and women’s associations were being established. In Iraq, women had demonstrated their ability to take up the challenges they were facing. The new Iraqi Constitution included provisions on the parity between men and women, including the right to elect and to be elected.

All Iraqis were equal before the law without discrimination on the basis of sex, religion or the economic and social situation, he said. The State guaranteed each individual to have social security provisions in order to live a decent and free life. There was a law making sure that at least 25 per cent of the deputies in Parliament were women. The Iraqi people needed support from the international community in order to ensure stability for the Iraqi people, taking into account the needs and interests of Iraqi women.

YASSIN EISA MOHAMED (Sudan), speaking about women and development and the advancement of women, said Sudan’s culture gave great importance to the dignity of men and women. Sudan had ratified a number of international instruments on women and children, and had lived up to its commitments in this regard with the treaty bodies. Every effort had been made for the empowerment and advancement of women, in accordance with Sudan’s reality and values, and in the context of the Beijing Plan of Action. The peace agreements signed in 2005 had allowed for further progress on the advancement of women, with further tasks set to achieve political, economic and social equity for all parties and sectors of society.

In view of the opportunities given to Sudan, work had taken place to draw up a national policy for the advancement of women, based on pillars in accordance with the policies set out in the Beijing Plan of Action. This policy document aimed to empower women, promoting their participation in development as a full-fledged partner. There was a need for concerted national efforts and support from the international community to achieve the internationally agreed objectives. Female genital mutilation was an ancient but harmful practice, and administrative decisions had been taken to halt its practice, however, it was still widespread and required further social awareness raising for the legislation to be respected.

ALEXEY GOLTYAEV (Russian Federation) said that the Russian Federation would like to refer to several issues. Russia agreed completely with the United Nations approach. Gender equality was essential for sustainable and socio-economic development. Despite significant progress made, there was no gain seen. The world community still found itself facing serious problems that needed to be solved. One of those problems was the feminization of poverty and the fact that violence against women was on the rise. Russia was committed to respecting its commitment to ensure respectful international obligations in this field. It had implemented a set of measures in this regard. Improvement of the situation of women was one of the priorities of the domestic policies of Russia. A governmental commission responsible for establishing gender equality had been established. A whole series of measures had been taken in various state bodies.

The institutional machinery was being fine-tuned, he said. Russia appreciated the work done at the fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women. It underscored the role played by the Commission to consolidate gender equality. The country also noted that there was a polarization of the debate. Improving the status of women must not serve as the pretext for conflictual contexts. Much remained to be done in this field. The work must be carried out without taking hasty measures. The recommendation made by the high-level segment deserved some fine-tuning within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly. It was not proper to redo this process in the framework of ECOSOC. The United Nations activity was very viable when it came to ensuring gender equality. Russia was open to a dialogue with all interested partners.

JUAN MARTABIT (Chile) said Chile recognized the work done by the Council and other United Nations bodies with regards to the important topic of gender equality. Efforts to ensure gender equality and the empowerment of women should continue. Chile had made a certain amount of progress in this regard ever since President Michelle Bachelet had taken the post. Her Government had developed a gender policy for the next three years, setting out the Government’s main commitments in this field. A pension reform bill that addressed situations where women were handicapped by the present system had been drawn up. This would make it possible to substantially improve the living conditions for retired women, keeping them above the poverty threshold.

There were also plans to establish a solidarity-based system, which would ensure that all women would have access to a pension, which would enable them to live in decent living conditions. Policies also existed to help women to reconcile work with family life, for both men and women. There was a Code of Good Practices, which also had the support of private enterprise, which was integrating it into their infrastructure. It was important to include the gender perspective in all topics and areas, regardless of what these were.

PARK YU RI (Republic of Korea) said that the Republic of Korea fully supported the gender mainstreaming initiative of the United Nations, which had been carried out with various dimensions. The country acclaimed significant progress made so far in capacity building of the United Nations entities and staff in the direction of gender mainstreaming. At this stage, the Republic of Korea would like to reiterate that gender mainstreaming was not an end in itself but an approach to attaining the goal of gender equality and empowerment of women. The country attached great importance to setting up the focal point that could consistently coordinate decentralized efforts to mainstream a gender perspective into the United Nations system. It was necessary to create a senior position such as the Under-Secretary-General that would combine and coordinate scattered programmes and projects for gender mainstreaming across all entities of the United Nations system.

With regard to the gender mainstreaming training, a more balanced standard should be introduced in evaluating the training results, she said. More attention should be drawn on developing innovative forms of capacity building and evaluating the contents and quality of the training. A number of challenges such as lack of financial resources, knowledge gap, and capacity building issues still remained to be solved with regard to the gender equality and empowerment of women at the United Nations. The Republic of Korea welcomed the seven recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report and strongly encouraged the United Nations entities to make a concrete action plan to implement those recommendations.

LADA PHUMAS (Thailand) said that, while there had been some progress so far in terms of gender mainstreaming at both national and international levels, especially in the United Nations system, a gap remained between understanding of basic gender-mainstreaming concepts and their actual daily work. Concerted efforts should be enhanced to build individual and organizational capacity for gender mainstreaming, as well as to ensure gender equality and the empowerment of women at all levels. It was necessary that all United Nations mechanisms and agencies continued to closely coordinate their work and resources to ensure that gender equality was on top of the global agenda and the relevant commitments of the international community were, and would be, implemented in the most effective and efficient manner.

Progress for women represented progress for all. There was an increasing understanding from all parts of society and of Governments that the issues relating to women’s rights and the enhancement of gender sensitivities supported the development of society and of people. It was essential to address the problem of violence against women and promote the equality and empowerment of women, as well as the concept of mainstreaming gender equality and participation at the root cause. Education played a significant role in this regard, and could serve as a functional mechanism to instil awareness of women’s human rights, self-confidence and self-worth in girls and women as well as respect for women in boys and men. The United Nations system should do its best to meet the gender balance targets.

ALICIA MUNOZ ALI (Bolivia) said that Bolivia was very pleased with the presentation of the report. Bolivia had been implementing various political, economic and social changes to ensure equality between women and men. Bolivia was a signatory of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. In 18 months of government, there had been a real push to implement public policies, above all for the inhabitants of rural areas. A programme to combat malnutrition had been established. Before the discovery of the new world, the Maya gave equal rights to women and men. During the colonization process, indigenous women were forced to produce textiles for the foreign soldiers. Indigenous women also faced other discriminatory processes. Indigenous women had to fight for independence.

In Bolivia there was the philosophy of living in harmony with nature and natural resources. Indigenous women in Bolivia had helped to legitimate their political and social claims. In the Government, women held important roles and thus had an influence on the decision making process in the country. There were specific claims of the indigenous women. Empowerment as a process must also encompass indigenous women. The multilateral framework should be the instrument to ensure equal opportunities between men and women.

TROY TORRINGTON (Guyana) said there was no deficiency of mandates or lack of consensus among the United Nations system and Member States with regards to gender equality and the empowerment of women. It was fitting that the United Nations system should itself be in the vanguard of the process, by providing an example of principles and best practices. This could be rapidly assisted by mainstreaming the gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations system. It was important to build individual and organizational capacity, and ensure accountability of all staff to operationalize gender mainstreaming.

The phenomenon of violence against women had been described as a curse that afflicted humanity, and enormously circumscribed women’s ability to participate in society at all levels. All women should be empowered to play a valued role in society.

LETICIA BAQUERIZO (Ecuador) said that Ecuador welcomed the report presented. It endorsed the statements made by various speakers with regards to the efforts that were needed to ensure the strengthening of the mainstreaming of gender perspectives within the United Nations. It was vital to strengthen existing mechanisms in order to promote the rights of women. The report of the Commission on the Status of Women was welcomed. Ecuador was looking forward to achieving gender mainstreaming throughout all the United Nations system. Gender mainstreaming should be carried out in a global fashion.

ANA BAIARDI (Paraguay) said Paraguay endorsed all efforts by the United Nations system and Member States to enhance the situation of women in all parts of the world. The international community was facing many challenges to ensure parity between the sexes, and ensure equality of opportunity. It was particularly important to take account in studies on the situation of women of the situation of older women, who were a distinct segment of the population which was often neglected, particularly in developing countries.

The issues of migration and orphans were also particularly important, especially in situations of conflict or post-conflict, and the needs of women bringing up orphans had to be taken into account. The United Nations, as with all bodies dealing with the situation of women, should deal with the issue of orphans.

Corrigendum

In press release ECOSOC/6302 of 23 July, the statements by Amr Nour, Representative of the Regional Commissions’ New York Office, should read as follows:

AMR NOUR, Representative of the Regional Commissions’ New York Office, said that he would introduce the Secretary-General’s report on regional cooperation (E/2007/15). During the dialogue in the high-level segment, an overview analysis of the region’s assessments to eradicate poverty and hunger were highlighted. The introductory statement would be on the efforts of the inter-regional efforts to promote development. The regional commissions had benefited from each others’ experiences and practices. Since the last report to the Council, the interaction between the commissions had been intensified. The outcome of the interaction had been satisfying. Another example of promoting regional cooperation was the signing of a regional agreement between the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia to encourage South-South cooperation. There were also several discussions taking place.

The regional commissions were an important part of the regional landscape, he said. Their partnerships with the institutions in the regions were revitalized. Through reform and restructuring, the Economic Commission for Africa sought more complementarities. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean was further enhancing its cooperation with the Inter-American bank, for example. The regional commissions had also signed memoranda of understanding with the United Nations Development Programme were pursuing collaboration with UNFPA, the United Nations Children's Fund and other specialized agencies. With regard to the decision and resolutions adopted by the Council, two of these resolutions required action by the Council. It was hoped that the Council would adopt these two draft resolutions.

Mr. NOUR, Representative of the Regional Commissions’ New York Office, said that he would introduce the note by the Secretary-General on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan. The report covered developments only until February 2007. It contained detailed information. As the report revealed, the occupation of the Palestinian territory by Israel continued to deepen the economic and social hardship for Palestinians. The severe Israeli mobility restrictions and closure policies remained a primary cause of poverty and humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian Territory, and restricted Palestinian access to health and education services, employment, markets and social and religious networks. Confiscation orders continued to be issued by the Israeli authorities throughout 2006. According to the Office of for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of physical obstacles in the West Bank grew from 475 in January 2006 to 550 in February 2007. The continuation by Israel to construct the barrier was having a major humanitarian impact on Palestinian communities living in the West Bank.

Almost 15 per cent of all West Bank agricultural land had already been confiscated in connection to the construction of the barrier, including some of the most fertile land in the West Bank. The fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority was already considered unsustainable by the end of 2005. Israel withheld Customs and Value Added tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority amounting to roughly $60 million per month. That amounted to almost half of the Palestinian Authority’s monthly budget. According to the International Monetary Fund, the financial resources of the Palestinian Authority shrank by 60 per cent from $1.2 billion in the third quarter of 2005 to $0.5 billion by the same quarter of 2006. This financial crisis had left the public health system unable to sustain care levels. Hospitals lacked adequate supplies, equipment maintenance, cleaning agents and the hygienic environments necessary to control infections. Education services were disrupted as well.

24 July 2007