Subject: [fem-women2000 77] NGO Statement 28th Oct on Rights-based Approach to the Empowerment of Women
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 1999 23:42:36 +0900
Seq: 77

Rights-based Approach to the Empowerment of Women
Item 5(b)

The NGO Women's Caucus of the ESCAP 1999 Working Group wholly endorses
the rights-based approach to the empowerment of women.  A rights-based
approach is fundamental, not only to the effective implementation of the
Beijing Platform for Action Critical Section I, but as a framework for
all critical areas of the Platform.  A rights-based approach is
imperative to the achievement of equality, to the elimination of
discrimination against women and girls, and for empowerment in economic
and political life.

1.   Two thirds of states in the region have ratified CEDAW, and of
these, nearly one third have entered reservations.

We therefore call upon all governments in the Asia Pacific region:

* to ratify CEDAW and remove any reservations.

* to ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW including acceptance of the
inquiry procedure.

* to integrate standards of equality and non-discrimination into
national constitutions, national law and policies.

* to develop effective mechanisms to regularly monitor the
implementation of CEDAW at national level.

2.   In the period since the Beijing Conference, issues have emerged
that are of particular importance to peace, equality and development in
the Asia Pacific region:

* the emergence of more countries in the region with nuclear technology
and capacity, and lack of adequate safeguards and controls

* the changing nature of armed conflict, with the increase in conflict
within national boundaries as well as between states, and

* the growing militarisation in the region.

Peace issues have not yet been adequately addressed in the review
process of the implementation of the BPFA.  These issues concern the
very existence of human kind, and the integrity and sustainability of
the environment.

We therefore call upon governments:

* to recognize the rights to self-determination of all peoples

* to immediately include women in all peace efforts, including
negotiations for peace settlements; conflict resolution training for
women and men decision-makers, and for military and foreign policy

* to urgently respond to the issues of concern (violence against women,
reproductive health and rights, and basic needs) to refugee women, other
displaced women in need of international protection, internally
displaced women, and women in situations of armed conflict.

* to establish training programs on peaceful resolution of conflict at
all levels, beginning with the household and community and particularly
in key national, regional and international political institutions.

We also call upon governments:

* to sign and ratify the Ottawa Convention on landmines.

* to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

* to actively work towards reduction in production and stockpiles of
nuclear weapons, and to ensure the methods employed to destroy them are
safe for human lives and the environment.

* to initiate a regime for the safe transport of radioactive materials
with the purpose of avoiding human and environmental contamination.

* to consider a compensation and liability regime to be placed on the
transboundary shipment of radioactive materials and mixed oxide in the
Asia -Pacific region.

4. In all countries, women and girls continue to face violence and
sexual assault both inside and outside the home, in situations of peace
and conflict.

We urge all governments:

* to ratify the International Criminal Court (ICC) statute, to ensure
that the rules and procedures of evidence are inclusive of rape and
sexual torture, and that women can be represented at the ICC in absentia.

* to provide redress for rape victims through legal and other measures,
to be instituted by the national governments and the international

* to ensure protection from violence including sexual harassment, rape,
forced prostitution and sexual slavery, for all women, including those
in situations of armed conflict, refugee women and other displaced women,
including the internally displaced.

* to take measures to address the trauma of women including refugee
women, other displaced women in need of international protection and
internally displaced women, and women in situations of armed conflict.

5. Discriminatory and exploitative practices towards girl children
persist in many countries of the region.

* We urge governments to support programmes that address cultural and
other factors resulting in discriminatory and exploitative practices
against girls at home and in society.

* We reiterate that governments should develop and implement
comprehensive policies, plans of action, and programmes for the survival,
protection, development, and advancement of the girl-child, as per
Strategic Objective L1.

6.  With regard to the treatment of refugee women, other displaced women
in need of international protection, internally displaced women, and
women in situations of armed conflict, a failure by most countries to
adhere to the norms of international humanitarian law is evident.

We call upon governments to:

* to implement the UNHCR Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women
and the UNHCR Guidelines on Evaluation and Care of Victims of Trauma and

* to develop gender sensitive guidelines in the treatment of internally
displaced persons.

* to ensure adequate living conditions with regard to women's needs for
shelter and personal security, especially in their pursuit of  basic
needs such as:  food, fuel, water, and sanitation; better protection for
women from sexual violence and military raids; and education services
and skills training.

* to immediately end the use of women as forced labourers and army

* to acknowledge as part of Strategic Objective E.1 of the BPFA the
violation of human rights of women and the girl child in the presence of
long-term foreign military bases.

* to urge the UN to re-evaluate the existing definition of  "refugees"
and "disappeared persons" and of existing protection mechanisms for
refugees in view of changing global circumstances, and in keeping with
accepted standards of gender-sensitivity.

* to acknowledge the documentation of violence against women in refugee
and armed conflict situations, to advocate for protection for witnesses
and defenders, and to provide rehabilitation and reintegration for
victims of violence in armed conflict.

7.  With regard to the treatment of trafficked women and children, we
welcomed strategic objective D3 (130) of the 1995 Beijing Platform for
Action, and we particularly applaud the recognition of the need to
provide better protection of the rights of women and girls1.  However 4
years have passed since BPFA, and we find the efforts made to combat
trafficking in women are inadequate, ineffective and lacking in their
regard for protection of human rights of trafficked persons.

We believe that any strategies to address the problem of trafficking
should not jeopardise the already vulnerable situation of women
concerned. Trafficked persons should be treated as holders of rights
rather than as objects of government actions.

We call for governments:

* to adopt a rights-based approach to policies and programs in regard to
trafficking in women, to protect and promote the human rights of
trafficked persons, and to provide avenues for redress for such persons.

* as part of this process, also to define 'trafficking'. A comprehensive
definition of trafficking is required that includes the core concerns of
trafficking in women namely a definition that

a) includes deceit, abuse of authority or coercion as a core element
b) makes a distinction between trafficking and prostitution as such,
c) concerns trafficking for purposes other than within the context of
the sex industry eg trafficking for domestic work, marriage, sweatshop

* to develop and implement comprehensive strategies to tackle
trafficking in women and children. These must address the areas of
prevention, protection and redress for trafficked persons. In reviewing
the reports issued by governments, NGOs and by the panel here now, there
are gaps in addressing the treatment of trafficked women. Most existing
policies and measures regarding trafficking in women have employed a
largely repressive approach that has had a negative impact on the women

* to undertake studies of relevant existing laws on trafficking and the
impact of those laws on the women concerned.

Strategies to combat trafficking must include remedies and redress for
trafficked women and protection and promotion of human rights.

We refer to the Report of the Asia Pacific Regional NGO Symposium, 31
August - 4 September 1999 and adopt all other recommendations not stated

1 Strategic Objective D3 Action 130 (b) Beijing Platform For Action 1995

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