UN Women’s Commission approves draft resolution on Palestinian women

Palestinian woman sitting on the remains of her demolished home (Photo: Nasser Ishtayeh)


By a recorded vote of 39 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 1 abstention (Canada), the forty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women this afternoon approved a draft resolution on the situation of Palestinian women.

By the text on Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2004/L.2), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) would, among other things, call upon the concerned parties to ensure the immediate resumption of the peace process and for tangible improvement of the difficult situation and living conditions of Palestinian women and their families.  It would also call upon Israel to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties.

Before the vote, the representative of Israel stated that the proposed resolution was politically one-sided, singled out Israel and contradicted the principles of the Commission.

Explaining her vote before the vote, the representative of the United States, noting that her country was the largest national donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said the United States was working with the Quartet to achieve the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and would vote against the one-sided draft.

The representatives of Argentina, Russian Federation, Canada and Peru explained their votes after the vote.  The Permanent Observer for Palestine made a general statement after the vote, as did the representative of Qatar.

Background

The Commission on the Status of Women, a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), this afternoon had before it a number of draft texts that, if approved by the Commission, would go to the ECOSOC for adoption.

By the terms of a draft on the situation of Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2004/L.2), the ECOSOC, concerned about the grave deterioration of the situation of Palestinian women in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and expressing its condemnation of all acts of violence, would call upon the concerned parties and the international community to exert all necessary efforts to ensure immediate resumption of the peace process.

The Council would demand that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Regulations annexed to The Hague Convention IV and the Geneva Convention, in order to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families.  It would call upon that Power to facilitate the return of all refugees and displaced Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties.

The Council would further call upon the international community to continue to provide urgently needed assistance and services to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis faced by Palestinian women and their families, and to help in the reconstruction of relevant Palestinian institutions.

Action on Texts

The Commission turned to the draft resolution on the “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women” (document E/CN.6/2004/L.2).

The representative of Israel said that the proposed resolution was politically one-sided, singled out Israel and contradicted the principles of the Commission.  It neglected to mention the Israeli victims, especially women, targeted by terrorism.  It was an attempt to exploit the Commission for narrow political purposes.  Member States supporting the text were abusing the Commission and doing so was in defiance of the Beijing Platform for Action.  He requested that members of the Commission vote against the text.

The representative of Qatar asked which delegation had asked to have a vote on the resolution and was told that it was the United States.

In explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of the United States said that her country was deeply concerned about the impact of the current crisis on Palestinian women.  The United States was the largest national donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and contributed to other United Nations programmes proving assistance to Palestinian women and the entire Palestinian population.  It also provided bilateral assistance to needy Palestinians.  In addition, it grieved for Israeli victims, including women, who suffered as a result of terrorism.  Her country was working with the Quartet to achieve the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.  She would vote against the one-sided draft.

The text was approved by a vote of 39 in favour to 1 against (United States) with 1 abstention (Canada) (Annex I).

In explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Argentina said that she had voted in favour of the text in accordance with her country’s support of resolution 14 of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly.  She shared the concern of the international community over the manner in which the building of the separation wall in the occupied territories was affecting Palestinian women and their families.  She reiterated her call for an end to all violence and for the parties to resume negotiations.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that, as a co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process and a member of the Quartet, he had voted in favour of the text.  The international community was, with reason, disturbed by the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The representative of Canada said that his country had consistently supported giving greater attention to the situation of Palestinian women, demonstrated by its efforts to alleviate their situation.  He was deeply concerned that their living conditions had been severely affected by restrictions on movement and closures.  However, he had chosen to abstain on the text.  While Canada had consistently called on Israel to respect its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, today’s text did not reflect the current situation.  Both parties had a responsibility to improve the condition of Palestinian women.  A negotiated settlement offered the best chance to do that.  He called on all parties to end the violence immediately and resume implementation of the “Road Map”.

The representative of Peru said that she had voted in favour of the text because women’s and children’s human rights were universal and should be promoted and protected.  She rejected all forms of violence, wherever they took place and whoever committed them.

Making a general statement, the Observer of Palestine thanked Member States for the positive result on the vote.  She also thanked the “Group of 77” developing countries and China for its co-sponsorship and support.  Today’s action would send a signal by the international community of its support for alleviating the situation of Palestinian women.  She hoped that next year, the situation of Palestinian women would be considered under different conditions.

The representative of Qatar thanked all those who voted in favour of the text, which represented a signal of support for Palestinian women and children at such a critical moment.

ANNEX I

Vote on Situation of Palestinian Women

The draft resolution on the situation of Palestinian women (document E/CN.6/2004/L.2) was approved by a recorded vote of 39 in favour to 1 against, with 1 abstention, as follows:

In favour:  Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark, Germany, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania.

Against:  United States.

Abstain:  Canada.

Absent:  Dominican Republic, Gabon, Guatemala, Nicaragua.

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