Committee on Elimination of Discrimination
9 July 2020
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this afternoon closed its seventy-sixth session, its first-ever session held remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hilary Gbedemah, Committee Chairperson, said that although the consideration of reports of eight States parties had been postponed, the Committee had been able to make important progress on other mandated activities and important work to protect and promote women’s rights in these critical times. The Committee held an informal public meeting to brief States parties to the Convention on the draft general recommendation on trafficking in women and girls in the context of global migration and to seek their views.
The working group on working methods prepared four important decisions, which would set the parameters for the Committee’s remote work during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The decisions concerned exceptional remote sessions, reasonable accommodation of experts with disabilities during remote sessions, a predictable calendar for the review of State party reports, and the inclusion in the lists of issues and lists of issues prior to reporting of a new standard paragraph on the impact of COVID-19 on women’s rights and gender equality.
Ms. Gbedemah said the working group on gender-based violence against women had made progress in conceptualizing comprehensive guidance for States parties, which might include practical guidance for States parties and other stakeholders concerning responses to gender-based violence against women and girls during pandemics such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Committee had adopted eight follow-up assessments, and had held an online meeting with one State party whose follow-up report was overdue. Eight final decisions prepared by the working group on communications had been adopted, and progress had been made on confidential inquiries, with the adoption of the assessment of the follow-up report submitted by Kyrgyzstan in relation to the recommendations made in the Committee’s inquiry report. The Committee had also held interesting exchanges, such as the briefing by the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia on the impact of COVID-19 on women’s and girls’ livelihoods across the Europe and Central Asia region.
According to the report of the session, which was adopted, the Committee adopted a joint statement on ending sexual harassment against women and girls with disabilities, which was initiated by UN Women and would also be endorsed by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It also adopted a statement titled “global anti-racism protests herald a new era in human rights, social and gender justice”. The provisional agenda for the seventy-seventh session was also adopted.
At the beginning of the session, the Committee heard a statement by Ibrahim Salama, Chief, Human Rights Treaties Branch, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, who said that this first-ever remote session of the Committee demonstrated how treaty bodies could advance their crucial work through creative working methods despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis. As it could not be predicted how the situation would evolve, the treaty bodies had to be prepared for all possible scenarios, including the worst-case scenario that no more in-person meetings could be convened this year.
The seventy-seventh session of the Committee is scheduled to be held from 19 October to 6 November (to be confirmed).
For use of the information media; not an official record
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