New York, June 6, 2000
There was a debate on publicly identifying the positions of each of the countries at the 5 June Linkage Caucus*. The discussion sprung from the press statement prepared by the NGO Coordinating Committee, "Statement to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Further Actions and Initiatives to Implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action" (see full text). Recognising the work done by women all over the world to secure governments' commitment to and implement the Platform, the statement urges the General Assembly to "bring the preparatory negotiations to a successful conclusion with a strong Outcome Document - a document with specific, bold actions to speed up the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action". The statement also points out that while most of the countries are committed to doing just that, some are "intent on watering down the Platform". The statement was prepared as reaction toward the slowness of the process of negotiations on the Outcome Document. The NGO Coordinating Committee called upon the participants to endorse the statement that will be presented at to the General Assembly and to the press on 6 June.
Some of the women at the Linkage Caucus complained that the statement was too ambiguous and called for a stronger statement that would name the countries with positions that weakened the Outcome Document. The women cited he press release issued by Amnesty International on 5 June, "Beijing+5: No Going Back on Women's Human Rights" (see full text). The Amnesty International Press release stated that the "In the preparatory sessions, some governments have been challenging the very basis of what was reaffirmed in Beijing: that women's rights are human rights. The unholy alliance formed by the Holy See, Iran, Algeria, Nicaragua, Syria, Lybia, Morocco and Pakistan has attempted to hold ransom women's human rights". It also mentioned the exemplary role some Latin American and Southern African countries have played towards achieving the goals of the Special Session. It was suggested that the NGO Coordinating Committee take the lead of Amnesty International and ammend statement so that would identify the various positions of different countries, highlighting those which undermined the Platform and weaken the Outcome Document.
The NGO Coordinating Committee, however, cautioned against such action, pointing out that the UNGASS and negotiations on the Outcome Document are still going on, and that naming the countries with conservative positions may undermine the lobbying efforts of the women. One of the participants also urged against any action that would villify some countries for not being progressive, stating that the positions of each country on various sections of the document have been neither consistently progressive nor conservative. The NGO Coordinating Committee also said that over 300 organisations have endorsed the statement, and that it would be difficult to ammend the press release at this stage.==========
STATEMENT TO THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION ON FURTHER ACTIONS AND INITIATIVES TO IMPLEMENT THE BEIJING DECLARATION AND PLATFORM FOR ACTION
As the General Assembly convenes in Special Session, it is time to bring the preparatory negotiations to a successful conclusion with a strong Outcome Document -- a document with specific, bold actions to speed up the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
It is clear that the majority of countries are here to do just that. They have repeatedly made their forward-looking positions clear on all 12 Critical Areas of Concern in the Platform. However, a few countries are intent on watering down the Platform.
In Beijing, women helped to secure the commitment of 187 goverments to advance women's human rights, gender equality and women's empowerment. Since 1995, we have worked in partnership with governments at home in our communities, and at the national and international levels, to turn the words of the Beijing Platform into concrete actions. These actions have made a real difference in the lives of many women. But there is still much to be done.
In the halls of the United Nations and at home in our countries, women worldwide are monitoring these deliberations. We call on you now to stand behind your Beijing commitments and together with NGOs accelerate our efforts to improve women's lives.=========
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE BEIJING:5 NO GOING BACK ON WOMEN'S HUMAN RIGHTS
NEW YORK - It is completely unacceptable for governments to try to undermine the commitments they made in Beijing five years ago, said Amnesty International on the opening day of the Special Session on Women at the United Nations General Aseembly.
The Beijing Platform for Action, a blueprint for achieving women's equality, development and peace, was adopted at the Fourth World Conference for Women in 1995. Governments have now come together in New York to review the implementation of this set of commitments.
"In the preparatory sessions, some governments have been challenging the very basis of what was reaffirmed in Beijing: that women's rights are human rights," Amnesty International said.
"The unholy alliance formed by the Holy See, Iran, Algeria, Nicaragua, Syria, Libya, Morocco and Pakistan jas attempted to hold ranson women's human rights."
- The very notion of human rights has been categorised as a "difficult" issue during last week's preparatory session.
- References to human rights treaties are being removed from the draft document to be adopted by this session, including references to the most recently adopted treaty on women's rights adopted by the General Assembly unanimously*
- The responsibility of states to ensure the human rights of women in both their public and private lives, which is well established under international law, is being questioned by some states.
There have been some positive achievements at the international level in the intervening five years since the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted:
- the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women has been adopted by the UN General Assembly (Namibia has been the first country to ratify it);
- the Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted explicitly recognising that certain gender-related crimes, such as rape and other forms of sexual violence are war crimes and also may amount to crimes against humanity.
"Some governments have come to New York with the genuine aim of reviewing the Beijing Platform for Action in the context of the realities of women's lives in their own countries," Amnesty International said.
"A number of Latin American and Southern African countries have played an exemplary role in attempting to steer the Beijing+5 process towards a meaningful outcome. Their efforts, however, have been hampered by a handful of countries after months of negotiation."
"We already have a document: the Beijing Platform for Action. Any final document adopted at this Special Session must demonstrate governments' political will to translate their promises at Beijing into action. The women of the world will accept nothing less."====================
The Linkage Caucus meets everyday for the duration of the UNGASS to discuss and coordinate the activities, actions and strategies of the various issue and regional caucuses. The Linkage Caucus is organised by the NGO Coordinating Committee.