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بيانات صحفية هيئات المعاهدات

اللجنة المعنية بالحقوق الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والثقافية تنظر في تقرير أرمينيا

07 أيّار/مايو 2014

 Committee on Economic, Social
  and Cultural Rights

 7 May 2014

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights today considered the combined second to third periodic report of Armenia on how the country is implementing the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Ashot Hovakimian, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said following its independence in 1991 Armenia had ratified all the main United Nations human rights treaties.  The prevention of genocide was an issue of specific importance for Armenia, not only because it was a tragedy suffered by the Armenian people but also because it was the first egregious crime against humanity in the twentieth century.  The situation of refugees was under the constant attention of the Government, which had a policy of naturalization and integration.  Armenia regarded the right to self-determination as fundamental and indispensable, and Mr. Hovakimian spoke about the blockade imposed on Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey, which he said violated international law and was the main impediment to Armenia’s economic development.  Legislative and judicial reforms, and new policies in the fields of education, employment and health, were also outlined. 
During the interactive dialogue Committee Experts commended the State party for progress made, including on gender equality.  They asked questions about poverty-reduction programmes, corruption, measures to tackle unemployment and about the informal labour market.  The Armenian genocide was raised as was Armenia’s extensive diaspora.  Efforts to improve education and healthcare, especially in rural areas, and the problem of sex-selective abortions and teenage pregnancies were discussed, as well as access to family planning services.  Experts also asked about social housing and social security, and cultural rights for minorities and persons with disabilities.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Hovakimian said the Covenant was very important for Armenia, and it hoped the Committee appreciated that.  Armenia was undergoing a process of very deep reformation, it had various obligations but it truly appreciated the strong human rights architecture created by the United Nations treaty bodies.
Lydia Ravenberg, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the report of Armenia, commended the State party for the progress it had achieved in implementing economic, social and cultural rights and steps taken to implement the last recommendations of the Committee. 
Zdzislaw Kedzia, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, said in its concluding observations the Committee would articulate its concerns and its recommendations – as the Head of the Delegation said, nobody was perfect, but the whole process was in the spirit of cooperation with, and assistance to, the State party.  
The delegation of Armenia included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Judicial Department and the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations Office at Geneva. 
The Committee will next meet in public at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 8 May to commence its review of China, which will present its second periodic report (E/C.12/CHN/2) as well as that of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong (E/C.12/CHN-HKG/3) and the Special Administrative Region of Macao (E/C.12/CHN-MAC/2). 

Following is the link to the combined second to third periodic report of Armenia (E/C.12/ARM/2-3). 
Presentation of the Report
ASHOT HOVAKIMIAN, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said following its independence in 1991 Armenia had signed and ratified all the main United Nations human rights treaties, most recently the Convention on the Protection of Migrants in September 2013.  Armenia had strong cooperation with all United Nations bodies, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The prevention of genocide was an issue of specific importance for Armenia, not only because it was a tragedy suffered by the Armenian people but also because it was considered the first egregious crime against humanity in the twentieth century.  Armenia traditionally presented resolutions related to the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the most recent of which was adopted by consensus at the twenty-second session of the Human Rights Council.  The situation of refugees was under the constant attention of the Armenian Government, which had a policy of naturalization and integration of refugees into society, although housing refugees from Azerbaijan was an acute problem.  Armenia had become home to over 4,000 Iraqi refugees of Armenian origin following the escalation of the conflict in Iraq.  Almost 15,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria had also been received. 
Armenia regarded the right to self-determination as fundamental and indispensable, Mr. Hovakimian said, speaking about the blockade imposed on Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey, which violated international law and was the main impediment to Armenia’s economic development.  Billions of dollars had been lost as a result of the blockade, which seriously and negatively influenced Armenian exports and imports.  The blockade caused State budget tax loses; studies had shown that if there was no blockade the gross domestic product of Armenia would grow substantially.  The National Strategy on Human Rights Protection was approved in 2012, with a Plan of Action agreed in 2014.  The latter highlighted priority human rights issues including reducing youth unemployment, improving employment security, establishing a social services system, reducing unemployment among persons with disabilities and improving healthcare in detention facilities.  The Plan of Action included the question of ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Covenant. 
Parliamentary and Presidential elections were held on 6 May 2012 and 18 February 2013 respectively, with the ruling Republican Party gaining the parliamentary majority.  The new Prime Minister, Hovik Abrahamyan, appointed a couple of weeks ago, had highlighted the need to develop small and medium businesses.  There were ongoing legislative and judicial reforms, while in the field of human rights, thematic programmes had been launched on the rights of the child, women’s rights, rights of persons with disabilities, social protection for elderly persons, and combating trafficking in persons.  In 2013, following a civil society initiative, a law on ‘equal rights and equal opportunities of women and men’ was adopted.  Finally, Mr. Hovakimian thanked the Armenian Human Rights Defenders office as well as non-governmental organizations for submitting alternative reports, which he said were an important contribution to the Government’s work in implementing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 
Questions from Committee Experts
LYDIA RAVENBERG, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur, in opening remarks recalled that Armenia’s initial report to the Committee was submitted in 1999, which implied that the State party had not complied with its reporting obligations. The long time in between reports meant the momentum of the dialogue was lost.  Why was the second periodic report delayed?  The details provided on legislation and policy adopted was welcome, but the Committee would like to know more about how policy was brought into practice and what the results were.   She also asked for information on the funding and character of the Ombudsman’s Office.
Corruption appeared to be a big problem in Armenia, and according to data was a growing one, the Country Rapporteur said.  The United Nations Human Rights Committee found there was corruption present in all branches of State institutions, especially the police and judiciary, which undermined the rule of law.  Corruption seriously infringed upon economic, social and cultural rights – there was a clear link between corruption and failure to enjoy human rights.  Had there been any cases of criminalization of corruption as well as specific campaigns to stamp it out.  Had the 2009 to 2012 anti-corruption action plan been evaluated?  Was there an anti-corruption law? 
On the equal rights of men and women, an Expert raised several issues including the definition of gender in law, and ways to increase the participation of women in public and political life.  What was being done to address the deeply-rooted patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes regarding women’s roles and responsibilities in the family and in society?  A politician was reported to have recently said at a press conference that ‘Armenian men and women could not be equal to each other’, which was a great concern to the Committee in terms of the challenge of changing stereotypes.  Extensive information was provided in the report on adopted or amended laws and actions taken; could the State party outline the impact of those laws and policies in society? 
Furthermore, could the delegation provide statistics related to the representation of women in senior-level political parties, public administration and research institutions? 
It appeared that Armenia had one of the highest levels of birth masculinity in the world, as a result of sex-selective abortions.  There was a strong boy-preference.  What was being done to combat that problem?  Furthermore, there was a high rate of abortion in general, with limited access to family planning methods for young women in rural areas, where the general abortion rate was approximately 0.8 per cent per woman.  Was sexual education mandatory in schools, and was organized family planning education on the programme? 
The Committee had information that non-ethnic Armenian refugees from Syria were limited, and asked whether Armenia’s asylum procedures were free from discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status as set out in the Covenant. 
Regarding the Armenian Genocide of 1915, by then-Ottoman troops, an Expert asked for Armenia’s views on the recent statement by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.  Did Armenia see his statement as progress in its battle for recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey?
The Armenian diaspora was very extensive, with hundreds of thousands living in countries including Russia, France and the United States.  When those Armenians returned to Armenia – whether for a temporary visit or permanently – did the diaspora enjoy any economic, social and cultural rights or political rights in the country?  What rights did the Armenian diaspora overseas enjoy when they returned home, either definitively or for a temporary period?
There was a high-level of unemployment in Armenia, particularly in rural areas, and a modest public expenditure dedicated to active labour market policies.  On the other hand, there was a large informal employment sector, of approximately 40 per cent of jobs.  What was being done to regularize the informal sector of the economy and ensure that workers in the informal sector had access to basic services and social protection? How were human rights defenders protected? 
Twice as many women as men received unemployment benefits, yet the system had recently been changed.  However, the new system did not appear to cover those who were currently unemployed and needed the benefits to survive until they found a new job.  Was that the situation?  Was the State pension at a level that enabled a person to live in dignity? 
An Expert welcomed Armenia’s recent accession to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its phased introduction of obligatory quotas for persons with disabilities within the State and private sector, for the period 2015 to 2016.  What was the total population of persons with disabilities of working age in Armenia and what was the percentage of their employment?  What was being done to reduce unemployment among persons with disabilities?  Much still needed to be done in terms of accessibility for persons with disabilities, including transport, Government buildings, public services and so on.  On non-discrimination measures, the Country Rapporteur asked what was being done to prevent the stigmatization of persons with disabilities. 
Response by the Delegation
The Head of the Delegation apologised for the delay in the submission of the combined second and third periodic report, and explained some of the reasons, including the second report going missing in New York in 2009.  He assured the Committee that there would not be such a delay before the fourth periodic report.
He spoke about the principle of the right to self-determination of the Nagorno Karabkh people and their economic, social and cultural rights, and about Azerbaijan’s continued blockade against Armenia and Nagorno Karabkh.  He also referenced the rights of refugees, the question of return of territories and the question of security guarantees. 
No single principle of international law could be selectively chosen to apply to the conflict, he said, commenting that very often, and in different fora, some countries brought only one principle of international law – such as territorial integrity – while neglecting others such as the principle of self-determination.  That was not acceptable for Armenia.  The right to self-determination was very important and a key tenet of Armenia’s foreign policy.  The conflict with Azerbaijan brought many troubles to the region.  Armenia sought a just, peaceful and politically negotiated resolution to it. 
Regarding the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey, the Head of Delegation said the recent statement by the Turkish Prime Minister was not considered to be any kind of excuse, and unfortunately there had been an attempt to equalize the victims and the perpetrators, which was unacceptable to Armenia.  The best way that Turkey could release the tensions was to take concrete steps.  Turkey needed to ratify the protocols – signed at Zurich University here in Switzerland - on the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and open the border which had been closed for 20 years.   Armenia stood very strongly against any kind of hate speech, racist propaganda or discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity or religion, he added. 
In answer to the question on the Armenian diaspora, the Head of Delegation said that Armenia had a population of about three million but there were estimated to be between nine and ten million Armenians living in other countries around the world.  Therefore two thirds of the nation lived abroad, which created a very specific situation not only for national development but also for economic and social development.  Government interaction with the diaspora was very active and strong.  Three years ago a law was adopted which allowed duel-citizenship for all people of Armenian origin living all around the world.  It was a very enlightened procedure which allowed many people to enjoy the same economic, social and cultural rights as the citizens of Armenia.  The only exception was that they could not participate in elections from abroad – they had to come to the country to vote. 
Armenia was committed to combating corruption in general, including under the Open Government Partnership.  Measures to tackle corruption included a new initiative for public sector workers and public servants, which was particularly aimed at high-ranking public officials, and emphasized their position of responsibility and trust in working for the State.  An Ethics Office had been established, and several related offences had been criminalized.  A separate and independent law enforcement division for corruption offences was planned, as well as independent statistics gathering on corruption cases. 
The Anti-Corruption Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, was anticipated to soon include members of civil society and independent experts, and a permanent secretariat.  Finally, Armenia actively sought international cooperation in the fight against corruption, and was a member of the Istanbul Action Plan in the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  It had also ratified Council of Europe conventions against corruption.  It was a member of the United Nations Commission Against Corruption, under which Armenia completed its first monitoring last year and would soon start to implement the ensuing report.  Sanctions for corruption included between four and eight years in prison, a delegate said, also giving details of recent cases in which high-level officials had been prosecuted and received a prison sentence. 
Regarding human rights training, the newly-established justice academy was now open and functioning, confirmed a delegate who taught the provisions of the Covenant at the academy.  The academy trained judges and prosecutors.  Its curriculum included the concrete application of international law by courts, which included covenants and other human rights-specific instruments. 
The age of marriage for men and women had been different, but it had been amended to make the age of marriage 18 years for both men and women.  There had been a strong reaction to that ruling from several minority groups in Armenia who had a traditional practice of marrying girls at a young age, but that was now the law. 
All citizens of Armenia had equal rights without discrimination on any grounds, a delegate confirmed.  She spoke about measures taken at the international level to eliminate discrimination, including ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racism.  The Ombudsman’s Office was very active in that field and had a special mandate to deal with issues of discrimination.
Ethnic and other minority groups were protected by presidential decree.  More than 20 minority groups lived in Armenia, and 11 of them were recognized as national minorities.  All of those 11 were members of the Coordinating Council and worked closely with different Government structures.  The Coordinating Council aimed to harmonize the integration of minorities.   
The Human Rights Council had advocated an end to harassment against human rights defenders and civil society, including through social networks, and had urged for more vigilance against such cases and for identification of and sanctions against perpetrators. 
Regarding accessibility for persons with disabilities, a delegate outlined a programme to modernize and rebuild old Soviet buildings in order for them to be fully accessible.  As it was well known, the infrastructure in most old Soviet States was in need of modernizing, but it was not possible to modernize all buildings at once.  A delegate noted that there was one Ministry whose staff included 30 persons who used wheelchairs; it was the first ministry that was fully accessible to wheelchair users. 
Attempts to reduce stereotyping of persons with disabilities were being carried out, with the help of popular media campaigns on television and radio.  Much work was also being done on social support and medical care for persons with disabilities.  By law all persons with disabilities, including children, were entitled to free healthcare.  Another new law defined disabilities, based on World Health Organization classifications, in order to assess who was entitled to free social support and care.  
The high level of unemployment of persons with disabilities was a concern to the Government; there were 190,000 people with disabilities living in Armenia who constituted six per cent of the population; 65 per cent were of working age, and of those only nine per cent were in employment.  The quotas that would be introduced in 2015 in the State sector and in 2016 in the private sector would have a big impact on those figures, the delegate said. 
The gender divide amongst the unemployed was unfortunately not equal, a delegate said, saying that 73 per cent of the unemployed were women, at the end of 2011.  Two new programmes had been introduced to increase women’s employment.
The average pension was 36,000 Dram.  If single pensioners lived alone, without care or members of family who could care for them, they received a family benefit.  The amount of the pension did not take into account the needs of a family.  The pension was increased every year. 
Regarding the selective abortion rate, global statistics showed that 106 boys were born for every 100 girls.  In Armenia 114 boys were born for every 100 girls, therefore it was clear there was a slight problem, a delegate said, which the Government endeavoured to regulate.  It was working with the United Nations Population Fund on measures including prohibiting clinics from telling the parents the gender of the child, apart from for medical reasons.  There were plans to show parents the body-parts of the foetus on the scan and listen to its heartbeat, which might help the parents to feel psychologically closer to their unborn baby. 
Follow-Up Questions by Experts
Although the delegate described the selective abortion rate as a “slight problem”, an Expert said it was in fact an enormous problem, and just a small point increase meant thousands of abortions.  It was symbolic of a very grave problem of gender inequality.  There were economic and social reasons for people preferring boys.
Response by the Delegation
Proving more information on the jurisprudence of the courts, a delegate affirmed that the courts of Armenia did apply the Covenant, and in their decisions and judgements directly referenced the jurisprudence of the treaty bodies.  
Selective abortion was a huge issue in Armenia, and the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund helped run enormous campaigns against it.  The Government was extremely concerned about the issue, it was about the future and in 10 or 20 years there would be some 100,000 more men than women, the Head of the Delegation noted. 
Questions by the Experts
In 2012 42 per cent of the population lived in poverty, about 38.8 per cent of which were children.  Had measures taken to combat poverty yielded any positive results?  Had there been any increase in the number of family benefits?  What was the Government policy on social and affordable housing, an Expert asked? 
What measures had been taken to reduce domestic violence?  Were there any sanctions for corporal punishment?  
Teenage pregnancy was another issue, an Expert said, commenting that some pregnancies were unwanted.  He asked about services that were provided to teenagers, in terms of education, consultative and medical services, all of which were indirectly related to the question on abortion.  Were any family planning centres located in rural areas?  
According to World Bank data, the total health expenditure in Armenia was 4.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  What measures had been taken to make qualified healthcare, especially in rural areas, more available? 
Also on the right to health, an Expert said information on measures to increase the availability of qualified healthcare professionals in rural areas had been provided, but no information was given on how Armenia addressed ‘under the table’ payments, especially in hospital settings, as they created obstacles in accessing free medical care.  How was the State addressing the levying of informal fees for medical treatment in hospitals? 
Regarding the cultural rights of minorities, the delegation had said there were 11 officially recognized national minorities in Armenia.  Were the rights of minorities recognized even if that minority group was not represented by a non-governmental organization?  What about their right to self-identification? 
How did Armenia guarantee access to cultural life for persons with disabilities?  For example Armenia was a very mountainous country, so physical access to cultural heritage sites must require accessible transport.  Access to the internet for cultural information was also raised, and an Expert asked whether the internet was available for persons with visual impairments, and in rural areas. 
The right to science – also known as the right to benefit from scientific progress – was referred to in the Constitution in wording similar to that of the Covenant, which was commendable.  Armenia was strongly commended for proving information in the report on how it upheld the right to science.  Public expenditure into science and research had not changed in the last 10 years.  Furthermore, the number of women working in science had fallen from 47 to 42 per cent over the last ten years.  The figure itself was not concerning, as 42 per cent was still much higher than in many other countries, but the downwards trend was a concern.  How was the presence of women in science being promoted? 
The expenditure on education, at three per cent, was below the average spent by countries comparable to Armenia under the Human Development Index.  Was the recent United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report which commended Armenia on its success in adult literacy, but highlighted lack of progress made in pre-school education, being acted on? 
An Expert noted that the number of schools without sanitation facilities had been reduced to eight per cent.  What other steps were being taken by Armenia to ensure good conditions, especially sanitation and including heating and water, in all schools on its territory? 
The official State language was Armenian, an Expert noted, but the report stated that children could still be taught in their other mother-tongue languages.  What policies and programmes were there in public education to promote the use and knowledge of minority languages in Armenia? 
An Expert asked about Armenia’s relations with neighbouring countries, such as Georgia, and whether its bilateral agreements with them covered cultural rights.  For example, providing textbooks for students in neighbouring States who studied Armenian.  The High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe held regular meetings to establish cross-border cooperation for minorities, such as seen in Estonia, he noted. 
Response by the Delegation
The extreme poverty rate fell from 3.6 per cent in 2010 to 2.8 per cent in 2012.  State policy in the 1990s aimed to reduce poverty and expand the opportunities of the poorest members of the population.  During the economic crisis, the State had struggled to fulfil its obligations, and from 2009 the cost of State transfers had increased dramatically.  The crisis had had a serious impact on child poverty.  In 2005, 60 per cent of children under five lived in poverty, and in 2011 it was approximately 45 per cent.  The percentage was decreasing and currently stood at around 32 per cent.   By 2021 it was hoped that the extreme poverty would be brought down to 2.1 per cent. 
The poverty-reduction programme was also designed to reduce poverty and inequalities between regions.  Its strategic plan was to reduce unemployment and increase jobs, as well as provide mechanisms such as micro-financing, in particular for hi-tech industries.  A minimum wage was also planned, while pensions would be increased.  There was also a separate programme for family benefits, which aimed to reduce child poverty in particular. 
A study into the informal employment sector had been carried out by the International Labour Organization; the pending results would include recommendations which would be carried out. 
The question of social housing was a very pressing issue for Armenia, as it was for many other countries.  In 2010 the Government had adopted a policy on and criteria for social housing.  The first group was people leaving children’s homes and orphanages.  The housing stock would also be for families who could one way or another assist other vulnerable people living in the building.  There was a great need for social housing, so the programme was being expanded on a geographical basis. 
Some 450 families who were affected by or victims of the earthquake were given housing.  Around 300 families were still in need of housing, following the earthquake, and it was hoped they would soon be housed.  More than 1,000 asylum seekers had been housed. 
On the issue of accessibility, a delegate said many cultural buildings, including universities, cinemas and museums, were not currently accessible for persons with disabilities.  However, the draft law on the rights of persons with disabilities would have provisions that organizers of cultural events had to reserve a certain number of accessible seats or places for persons with disabilities, to be determined by the Government.  Furthermore, funds had been allocated to upgrade public transport services to make them more accessible. 
The draft law on domestic violence had been in circulation since 2007, and had been discussed a number of times with the public, civil society and ministries, including the Ministry of Social and Labour Affairs which drafted it.  The problem was the adoption of the actual package of laws relating to the domestic violence sphere that was postponed due to very formulistic legal obstacles identified by the Ministry of Justice.  The recently-approved Human Rights Action Plan provided a timeframe for the presentation of the package of laws and codes on domestic violence to the National Assembly, which was by the end of 2015.  The draft laws and codes could be provided to the Committee in English. 
Corporal punishment or any form of violence against children was already illegal and banned as a form of punishment for children under the Family Code, whatever the child’s situation or place of residence.  Full and comprehensive regulations on corporal punishment were included in the domestic violence package, although there were already legal provisions in the Family Code and in the Criminal Code which related to corporal punishment.  Around 900 children lived in children’s homes in Armenia, the majority of whom had special needs.  Corporal punishment was illegal in any State institution, including boarding schools.  Furthermore, a strategic programme for the protection of the rights of children until 2016 was adopted in 2012, which included a blueprint for preventing violence against children
Meanwhile, in 2010 an interagency commission on domestic violence and gender-based violence was founded.  Headed by the Deputy Minister for Social Affairs and Labour, the commission’s aim was to prevent gender-based violence, provide comprehensive support to victims and persecute perpetrators.  The Government of Armenia was guided in its efforts by United Nations Conventions, namely the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action and Beijing+20.
On teenage pregnancies, a delegate said approximately three per cent of pregnancies were teenage pregnancies.  He gave statistics, saying that in 2010 there were only 30 births to girls or women aged between 15 and 18 years of age.  There were 107 births in the 20 to 25 age bracket.  In Armenia being a teenager was not a reason in itself to have an abortion, if there was no medical or social reason to have one – for example, being pregnant as a result of rape.  There were 38 medical centres in rural areas that could provide contraception and family planning services. 
The family planning services worked closely with the United Nations Population Fund to provide modern contraception.  As a result, many women knew at least one form of contraception.  Some 28 per cent of married women used modern contraceptive methods, while 27 per cent used traditional methods.  Around 21 per cent of women applied for contraceptive methods but did not have permission granted. 
To combat the problem of people paying informal fees for healthcare the State had made all primary health services free of charge, except for dental care, which was only free for children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.  Medical services that came with a charge were overseen by State agencies. 
Under the Constitution and the Law on Education, general education was free and compulsory.  The only exception was for a child no longer of school age.  The financing of education was lower than global standards, which was a great concern, but it must be borne in mind that in absolute terms education funding was increasing every year, even during the global financial crisis.  Education funding was anticipated to be four per cent of Gross Domestic Product by 2025. 
Pre-school education was the most vulnerable area as it was the responsibly of, and funded by, local Governments.  That changed in 2007 when a World Bank project assisted in the implementation of pre-school educational services and institutions in regions that previously had none.  More than 200 such centres had been established, primarily attended by children from rural areas and funded by the State. 
Each year from five to ten per cent of the total education budget was allocated to the refurbishment of schools and to improve school infrastructure.  That limited amount of money did not allow for a full solution to the existing problems, however.  In the coming years around 100 schools would have been fully refurnished.  Along with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Government sought to evaluate the needs of schools and identify the priority schools; those that did not yet have sanitation and water would be at the top of the list. 
Children had the right to study their national language and culture, in their own language, funded by the State.  Textbooks for the most widespread national and religious minorities were provided.  Regular training sessions were organized for the teachers on how to teach minority languages and cultures.  There was similarly a specific policy for diaspora schools, and textbooks provided for them. 
Although funding for science was being increased, and stood at around one per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, it left a lot to be desired.  There were measures to enhance cooperation between science, academia and industry.  The subject of women in working science was being discussed and ideas for incentives and mechanisms to attract women to work in science were also being considered.
Response by the Delegation
The Ombudsman was a Government representative.  The recommendations handed down by the Ombudsman were not always acceptable or liked but they were implemented, a delegate commented. 
Concluding Remarks
ASHOT HOVAKIMIAN, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, thanked the Rapporteur and Committee Members for their diverse and interesting comments.  The Covenant was very important for Armenia, and it hoped the Committee appreciated that.  Armenia was undergoing a process of very deep reformation, it had various obligations but it truly appreciated the strong human rights architecture created by the United Nations treaty bodies.
LYDIA RAVENBERG, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur, commended the State party for the progress it had achieved in implementing economic, social and cultural rights and steps taken to implement the last recommendations of the Committee.  The delegation made an impressive effort in answering the Committee’s questions. 
ZDZISLAW KEDZIA, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, thanked the delegation for the frank and constructive dialogue, and for the progress it had made in implementing the Covenant.  In its concluding observations the Committee would articulate its concerns and its recommendations – as the Head of the Delegation said, nobody was perfect, but the whole process was in the spirit of cooperation with, and assistance to, the State party.  

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