Subject: [fem-women2000 210] CSW Last Day - Press Conference on Participation in Beijing Review- 17 March 2000
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2000 17:20:50 +0900
Seq: 210

Here's information from a Press Conference held on Last Day of CSW
prepared by Women Action team member.

Forwarded by lalamaziwa <>
---------------- Original message follows ----------------
 From: "Lenka Simerska" <>
 Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 14:35:17 GMT

Last day news from NY
Lenka S.

17 March 2000


At a Headquarters press conference Wednesday, several organizations
provided correspondents with details on the plans to welcome and
accommodate the thousands of citizens groups from around the world who
would be attending the five-year review of the Fourth World Conference on
Women (Beijing, 1995), which will take place at Headquarters in June.

The Beijing +5 Host Committee was an ad hoc group of non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) in support of the Beijing platform who had come
together to facilitate the five-year review, its co-Chair, Ellen Chesler,
explained. The Committee was planning celebrations and forums to mark the
progress and hold governments accountable for their Beijing commitments.
Also, representatives from the federal, state and city governments were
participating to ensure that parliamentarians and non-governmental
organizations, as well as the many women from around the world who would
attend, would be able to partake in the celebration.

She added that the United States Custom House in Battery Park City had
been made available to provide a home for NGO activities, including a
cyber- cafe for reaching out to women in the rest of the world, and
facilities for group meetings. In about a week, a Web site would be
available, updated weekly,
at: . The Committee's three other co-Chairs are: Barbara Arnwine, Kavita
Ramdas and Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly.

The Executive Director of the Conference on Non-Governmental
Organizations (CONGO) in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations,
Rebecca Nichols, explained that her group, an international association of
NGOs from around the world, existed to facilitate NGO interaction with the
United Nations and represent NGO interests at the United Nations at large.
It sought to ensure that groups around the world who wished to participate
in United Nations special events were kept informed. Activities included:
providing information to NGOs around the world, daily briefings to such
organizations in New York, providing official and unofficial supporting
documents, and enabling NGOs to have parallel working sessions or caucuses
alongside official negotiations. For the upcoming special session, CONGO's
outreach and communications functions were going to be particularly
important, given the limited number of NGOs that would be able to attend.
CONGO was based in New York at 777 United Nations Plaza on the
8th floor.

Sudha Acharaya, of the Non-Governmental Organization Coordinating
Committee organized by CONGO, said last year at the forty-third session of
the Commission on the Status of Women, NGOs had discussed preparations for
the upcoming special session. Three major decisions had been taken.
First, it was decided that a NGO forum would not be held, and instead NGOs
would hold a working session prior to the special session. Second, they
had decided that a global communication network would be established, so
that NGOs around the world had access to information about the special
session. Third, it was decided that NGOs at the national level would
prepare alternative national reports. Those would then be put together at
the regional level, and later become a global alternative report.

The Coordinating Committee had been meeting electronically, and on a
daily basis since 26 February, to discuss preparations for the special
session, she continued. The two-day working session was extremely

important; it was a time to take stock and determine future steps. The
communications network was called "Women Action". Its Web site was: . As
for the alternative reports, 53 had been received so far. They would be
made available during the working session.

Linda Tarr-Whelan, United States representative to the United Nations
Commission on the Status of Women, said the number of people who would come
to New York was one of the best kept secrets of all times. The estimate
was between 5,000 and 20,000, including delegations and NGOs. The United
States would be arranging for the General Assembly plenary sessions to be
piped into the Customs House.

A correspondent asked what impact the NGOs expected to have on the
conference, since it seemed to be structured in a way that did not allow
for direct input from such groups.

Ms. Acharaya said that the organizations would be able to address the
Committee of the Whole, and some would address the plenaries as well.
Also, government delegations would be invited to meetings and caucuses.
Ms. Chesler said 2,000 NGO representatives would be accredited to the
United Nations and there was no shortage of opportunities to access the
formal part of the negotiations. Because of the visibility of Beijing,
however, and the vibrant regional meetings held since, it was likely that
there would be considerable interest beyond accredited delegates. The host
committee wanted to accommodate those who did not have access, but that did
not mean there was no access.

Ms. Tarr-Whelan said that since the United States delegation had arrived
three weeks ago, it had been constantly interacting with NGOs, holding
daily briefings with them at 2 p.m. at the Church Center. Certainly for
the United States delegation, these groups were having an increasing

Ms. Nichols said that while the Host Committee was celebratory and
informational in its orientation, CONGO -- the operational arm of the NGO
Coordinating Committee -- was committed to helping NGOs participate in the
official process. CONGO was committed to helping those organizations,
whether here or in their home countries, be effective in the process. That
meant also providing them with information to be effective with their
governments before the special session. The NGO exercise had a longer life
span than just one week in New York. The CONGO was committed to making
sure that governments knew that NGOs were prepared and understood what was
going on, and that when governments went home, they would be accountable.
Asked what "headliners" would be coming to the special session,
Ms. Tarr-Whelan said the United States President and First Lady were
considering attending, in addition to other high-level members of the
Administration, including Health and Human Services Secretary Donna
Shalala. In talking with other delegations, she had the feeling that
many heads of State and ministers would be making their decisions on
whether or not to attend, based on whether there was a clear decision as
to what was being reaffirmed at the special session.

Ms. Chesler said that the United Nations was according this the highest
attention. The Secretary-General had asked his cabinet to attend with him.
Ms. Acharya said that the NGO Coordinating Committee was currently involved
in efforts to get women leaders involved. She also drew attention to plans
for an inter-generational, inter-cultural and inter-regional roundtable on
the women's movement.

* *** *

17 March 2000


Participants in the forty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status
of Women and in the Preparatory Committee for the upcoming special Assembly
session on the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women had
reconfirmed that the Beijing Platform for Action and Declaration should not
be renegotiated, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender
Issues and Advancement of Women told correspondents at a Headquarters press
briefing today 
Angela King was discussing the outcome of the meetings of the Commission
on the Status of Women, which concluded on 2 March, and of the Preparatory
Committee for the "Beijing + 5" special session scheduled to end today.
The special session, to be held from 5 to 9 June in New York, would follow
up and analyse implementation of the outcome of the Nairobi Forward-looking
Strategies for the Advancement of Women (1985) and of the Fourth World
Conference on Women convened in Beijing five years ago.

The Beijing Platform had been a consistent theme in all of the
preparatory meetings, particularly during the current one being held at
Headquarters, she continued. Also, the spirit of Beijing, which had
energized women throughout the world, especially at the grass-roots level,
and engendered many new non- governmental organizations (NGOs), was still
evident in the Organization's corridors.

Expressing her satisfaction that the question of NGO participation had
been resolved, she noted that the estimated 5,000 to 15,000 representatives
of those organizations expected to attend the special session would pose a
logistical challenge. To that end, the Customs House, located in downtown
New York, would serve as an overflow point with access to plenary meetings
and other special events through video services provided by the Department
of Public Information (DPI).

She also hoped that the NGOs would be able to participate in other events
being hosted by Columbia University and other institutions. The decision
to allow NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council
to speak in plenary, and in the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole, reflected
the Organization's resolve to work in partnership with that community. The
largest number ever _ 1,300 individual NGO representatives -- had
participated in this session.

Delegations had agreed on the provisional agenda and organizational
arrangements for the special session, but more progress still needed to be
made, Ms. King said. Moreover, during the current deliberations, six
signatories had been added to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women -- Argentina,
Paraguay, Indonesia, Spain, Dominican Republic and Ghana. That instrument
was one of the most visible outcomes of the follow-up to Beijing, and she
was confident that it would enter into force before the end of this year.

Also present at the press briefing was the Chairperson of the Commission
on the Status of Women, Dubravka Simonovic. She told correspondents that
during its meetings there had been a substantial general debate on the
follow-up to, and implementation and appraisal of, the Beijing Platform for
Action, as well as the Declaration. Many had emphasized the need for the
special session to give impetus to implementing the Beijing outcomes and an
effective document, which would have specific measures to overcome
obstacles. Many regretted that the goal for universal ratification of the
Convention had not yet been reached. During panel discussions, it had been
noted that women's economic empowerment was essential to achieving gender
equality, she emphasized. The Commission had also concluded that policies
governing part-time work should target both women and men.

Mrs. Simonovic said the Commission had adopted four resolutions,
including one on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, and
another on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. It had also
decided on two themes for its next session -- "Women, the girl child and
HIV/AIDS"; and "Gender and all forms of discrimination, in particular,
racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance". She
mentioned that other issues, including women's rights, employment policies
and violations against women, had been dealt with.

The negotiation of substantial issues, particularly regarding the
identification of future actions and priorities to be reflected in the
outcome documents for adoption by the special session, had gotten off to a
slow start, said the Chairperson of the Preparatory Committee, Rose Odera.
More time was needed for additional informal meetings, but so far only five
and a half days had been allocated to the Committee for those
consultations. The documents would try to bridge the gaps between those
countries that had made progress in implementing the Platform for Action
and those which had not. Clearly, no country had achieved full

She said that five years was a short period for governments to implement
their development plans and domesticate some of the recommendations and
proposals made. However, the review process would still be useful. Work
had begun since last year on a draft political declaration in which
governments would reaffirm their commitment to the goals and objectives of
the Beijing Platform for Action and to the implementation of the 12
critical areas of concern. The declaration would also recognize the role
and contribution of civil society, in particular NGOs and women's
organizations, and would emphasize men's role in ensuring gender equality.
She hoped that it would be adopted at this afternoon's meeting.
Another outcome document dealt with the achievements and obstacles
confronted such as the impact on women of the structural adjustment
programmes and the resulting decline in resources allocated to the social
sector. It also dealt with challenges like globalization, which had
cultural, political and social impacts resulting in increased inequality
between women and men in wages and working conditions; and science and
technology. Another part of the document addressed the HIV/AIDS pandemic
and its devastating impact on women and girls and the increase of violence
against women. The role of NGOs had also been emphasized in that document.
What were the major significant issues still lacking from that document?
a correspondent asked, noting that it was rather late to be working those

Ms. Odera said the work on the document had been divided among two
parallel groups and efforts were being made to bridge the gaps between
those who had made progress and those who had not been able to do so.
Therefore, it would take further effort to gain common ground. They were
currently studying achievements and obstacles in part 1, and actions in
part 4. One of the challenges the groups had faced was acknowledgement of
the hurdles they would have to cross to be able to make similar decisions.

The correspondent wondered whether part 4 would set specific targets like
dates for achieving some goals of the Platform for Action.
Ms. Odera said that it would. During the review, participants had
realized that timed targets had been missing and that had posed
difficulties in assessing progress. That was one reason for the delay in
reaching agreement.

Another correspondent asked whether, considering its diversity, the
"Group of 77" developing countries and China would be split into different

Ms. King said the current regime for the negotiation process would have
to discuss that. There were reports that one sub-group might make a
statement to that effect in today's meeting of the Preparatory Committee.
Ms. Odera said that the group was aware of those issues on which a common
position was possible. That observation applied to many groups, she added,
and there was strength in that diversity.
Now that full recognition of NGO partnership had been attained, would
only an hour be given for them to make statements? a correspondent asked.
Would those organizations at the Customs House be allowed interactive

Mrs. Simonovic said she had mentioned full participation of NGOs during
the sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women, not during those of
the Preparatory Committee. It was important to note that during the
regular session, while there were 45 members on the Commission, the bureau
incorporated all Member States, as well as NGOs.

Ms. King said that, as with other special sessions, NGOs would have their
own conference room. They were free to view the plenary web cast in that
location, as well as to hold any other event.

Reports had been circulating that a number of financial commitments
that had been made during the Beijing Conference had not been kept, a
correspondent said. There had also been calls for a fifth world
conference. How were those issues being addressed?

Both the political declaration and the second outcome document had
addressed the issue of resource mobilization, Ms. Odera said. That was the
purpose of the review -- to study why the Platform had not been

Ms. King said that a fifth world conference would be a welcome event.
However, a 10-year span between conferences and special sessions would be
more effective for measuring the impact of their outcomes.

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