Archive for the 'UN' Category

“Is the CSW passé?”

Solana Larsen

I just finished writing an article for the New Humanist about the religious conservative presence at the CSW, and stumbled on an interesting article I should have found sooner.

Star columnist for Concerned Women of America, Janice Shaw Crouse, read openDemocracy’s Isabel Hilton’s post on the Guardian’s Comment is Free about the lack of media coverage of the CSW, and had some fun with it (read: plagiarized and distorted).

“While the left is complaining about the outside world’s lack of interest in the goings-on at the CSW, the conservatives are there armed with the TRUTH,” she mocks, “The lack of media interest is just one more sign that the influence of feminism has peaked and is beginning to wane.”

My favorite part:

“The public is genuinely interested in addressing female genital mutilation, sex trafficking and other real forms of violence against women, legitimate issues that must be eradicated. They are tired, though, of having the CSW and other leftists manipulate those issues to push their grab-bag agenda of quotas, governmentally-mandated housework by husbands, universal abortion-on-demand, mainstreaming approval of lesbianism and pushing so-called “sexual freedom” while telling teens that they can be “safe” if they’ll only use a condom.

The CSW isn’t passé – it’s this world view that is.

Another article I found describes the rightiwing presence at the CSW and gives some more details on the controversy surrounding the US suggested resolution on sex-selective aboortion. Elisha Dunn-Georgiou from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States highlights some of the dishonest tactics of religous conservatives.


“UN dishonors women”

Solana Larsen

Here’s an example of some of the spectacularly negative things some American conservatives say about the UN process:

National Review (via Andrew Sullivan):

Last Friday, the UN surpassed itself as it finished its annual session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women by singling out Israel and only Israel (which actually has a very good record on women’s rights) as being the only state “found in violation of women’s rights.”

It’s outrageous the writer would make it sound like that everything that went on for two weeks was related to Israel. (Perhaps, a more interesting article for the National Review would be how the United States blocks international progress in women’s rights that would help the muslim women they supposedly care so much about.)

It was a PS to the meeting and not a central thing. Pakistan put forward a resolution on the Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, which refers to this report completed by the United Nations. Forty out of forty-five countries voted in favour of it. Granted, it is a little weird that Israel is the only country mentioned in any of the four resolutions suggested by states (and jeez, who is Pakistan to talk?). But it is a rather striking poll on international sentiment. Only the USA and Canada voted against. Here is a summary of how the Commission voted. The fact that Israel has a “good record” may be why it’s particularly important to point out (here’s a little reminder of the UN’s role in creation of Israel). OK, so it would be nice if there was no such thing as politics at UN meeting on women. But then it wouldn’t be governments sitting at the table.

The fact that representatives voted to help Palestinian women is no reason to slam the entire CSW or the UN. On the contrary. Here is a draft of the agreed conclusions of the CSW. It is a long and detailed document which will be of great assistance to women’s rights activists around the world. (No country is singled out. I am not sure if it is because the bit on Israel goes in a seperate document or simply hasn’t been included yet.)


Solana Larsen

We’ve got a couple of articles on openDemocracy to help draw this blogging session to a close. Sarah Lindon on International Women’s Day (“Gendered States“) and myself on the closing day of the CSW (“How power works for women“).

I won’t promise not to post again in this blog. But for now it’s goodbye. If you participated in the CSW or you have any comments whatsoever, feel free to email them or post them in the comments below. Thanks for your links, comments, and support.

UN’s Ban Ki-moon speaks out

Solana Larsen

An exceptionally bland statement on women’s rights from the new Secretary General for International Women’s Day (tomorrow).

Lots of other things going on about women at the UN today and yesterday alongside the CSW.

The Security Council held a meeting on women’s involvement in peace and security keeping, reaffirming it’s committment to Resolution 1325.

And there has been an “informal thematic debate” in the General Assembly on women’s empowerment. World representatives shared where they’re at.

Open meetings

Solana Larsen

Certain parts of the discussion about the CSW recommendations are usually closed off to NGO observers, so governments can discuss contentious issues in private. But this year, the NGOs asked for permission to sit in on the “informal” meetings, and the CSW Bureau said yes.

This makes the process of the CSW remarkably open to scrutiny. In general, the atmosphere is easy and accessible, not stuffy and formal as you might imagine.

That’s not to say there isn’t tension in the air. The delegations are way behind schedule on their revision of the draft document. It does not look like they will finish in time, which means either they might be here until 4am in the morning on Friday (it wouldn’t be the first time), or that they will be called back again at a later date.

Photo slideshow

Solana Larsen

Granted, these are not the most stunning photographs, but if you would like to see a slideshow of what it looks like here at the UN, I’ve taken a few snap shots.

“UN resolutions don’t lead to anything”

Solana Larsen

When did it become the fashion to say “UN resolutions don’t lead to anything”? I understand the world doesn’t look exactly as it should, but it misses the point of the process entirely.

Today, in the Vienna Café of the UN, Jamil Dakwar and Lenora Lapidus from the American Civil Liberties Union, explained how they use the international process as a tool for national lobbying.

Step 1) The ACLU and Human Rights Watch have found that girls in juvenile detention centers in New York are being abused and neglected by state authorities.

Step 2) There was no text in the draft resolution that spoke to the rights of encarcerated girls, so they wrote a few sentences and submitted them to the Commission for inclusion.

“…ensure that girls in conflict with the law are only incarcerated as a last resort, and in conditions free from physical and sexual violence. Ensure that conditions of confinement in all sites of incarcertation are independently monitored and meet international standards, and establish effective mecahnisms to investigate complaints of abuse…”

Step 4) They were certain the United States government would work against this, so they approached other governments who would be open to supporting it. Turkey agreed.

Step 5) If the change is implemented, the ACLU can then use the recommendations to press the US to improve improve conditions in US prisons.

The UN doesn’t do magic. Resolutions and international standards are tools for NGOs and ordinary citizens to pressure their governments with. Some places that’s more difficult and dangerous than others. I’m not saying the UN process is perfect. The point is it doesn’t absolve us from the responsibility of working to improve things in our own countries.