On 9 March 2015, the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) commenced in New York. Contrary to previous years, CSW59’s official outcome document does not take the form of Agreed Conclusions, negotiated during the CSW, but that of a Political Declaration. This Declaration has been adopted on the very first day of CSW59.
This means that negotiations have been taking place over the last few weeks. Negotiations that proved to be particularly difficult this year. A bloc of infamous conservative forces, comprising Russia, Indonesia, the African Group and the Holy See, pled for the removal of all references to ‘human rights’ from the document. The final text that was adopted today proves who won the battle.
This failure to recognise gender equality as a prerequisite for the safeguarding of human rights, puts women’s human rights at the risk of becoming a pick-and-choose menu, which undermines the full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. The text furthermore lacks a strong vision for the post-2015 agenda and for implementation and accountability mechanisms. It fails to adequately address the unprecedented challenges that women face today and those that threaten even the progress they have already made (incl. economic inequality, climate change and rising, violent fundamentalism).
The Declaration does not contain any reference to contributions by civil society organisations. Indeed, their voices have been excluded from it. Progress has occurred not because of the benevolence of governments, but because feminist movements and human rights defenders have fought for it. In order to express their disappointment, nearly 1,000 civil society organisations worldwide have signed a statement demanding a more committal, powerful and ambitious document. Atria is among its signatories.
Commission on the Status of Women
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the UN body that deals with women’s rights and gender equality. Members of the CSW gather annually in New York and represent 45 Member States of the UN. Membership rotates every four years. The current Dutch membership ends in 2015. This year marks the 20thanniversary of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, which will be celebrated world wide. Central theme of CSW59 therefore is the post-2015 agenda: where do we stand 20 years after Beijing and how do we proceed from here?
CSW59 takes place from 9 until 20 March 2015 in New York. Antia Wiersma and Catherine Bij de Vaate will be present on behalf of Atria and keep you posted on all developments.