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The status and importance of country reporting to the UN CEDAW Committee. (Factfile).

When States Parties ratify (see Definitions, p. 11) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, they must submit their initial report a year after, and then periodically every four years to the CEDAW Committee. Twenty-seven of the 169 countries that ratified are from the Asia-Pacific region. Among them, Bhutan, Cambodia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu have yet to submit their initial reports, while Bhutan and Lao PDR already need to submit their fifth periodic reports (see Table 1). Governments and NGOs could use these reports to the CEDAW Committee and other Committees of International Human Rights treaties to plan, monitor and evaluate the progress in enabling women to access and exercise their human rights. More specifically, a State Party report can be used to: 1) Record governments' performance; 2) Identify problems and obstacles to women's equality, their solutions, and best practices; 3) Evaluate the fulfilment of States' obligation; 4) Enable governments to commit to women's equality and identify priorities for the next four years; 5) Learn from the CEDAW Committee's vast experience and expertise on fulfilling State obligation; and 6) Enable the State to show good faith in fulfilling its obligation by agreeing to an open and transparent process of accountability. (1) The delay and irregularity in submitting reports affect the timeliness of proactive actions to improve women's status. The review of the Concluding Comments of the CEDAW Committee on sections of the States Parties' reports on women's sexual and reproductive rights (2) submitted up to 2001 by Australia, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand revealed that: 1) The Concluding Comments are more insightful as the members gain experience and develop jurisprudence on women's human rights within the international human rights system; 2) The thoroughness of the Concluding Comments on any particular issue area depends on the individual Committee members' specific expertise and interest; 3) The interlink and continuity (i.e. consistency of issue areas covered) between the Concluding Comments on a State Party's report and its subsequent reports depends on the content and consistency of issue coverage in the State Party's reporting and the NGOs' alternative reporting. States Parties that delay submitting their reports lose the opportunity to tap into the CEDAW Committee members' expertise and knowledge that could help them to further implement the Convention, and more importantly, further develop national jurisprudence (see Definitions, p. 11). For more State-effective efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, governments: 1) Need to ensure that suitable candidates (familiar with women's issues, have the grounding, or are progressive) are nominated to the CEDAW Committee while NGOs continue to lobby for this; 2) Need to build up their capacity to prepare and submit a comprehensive State Party report by following the guidelines of the CEDAW Committee (3) and other treaty bodies (4) and groups (5). 3) Could partner NGOs in preparing a more detailed and comprehensive State Party report.

Timely State Party reporting is essential if governments are to uphold their commitment to the CEDAW Convention. NGOs can play a role by monitoring the submissions of their country reports to the CEDAW Committee and other treaty bodies.
Table 1: Status of Submission (Selected States Parties) and
Consideration of Reports by CEDAW, 30 September 2002

States Parties Reports Submitted Reports Yet to be
 and Reviewed Submitted/Due
 by CEDAW

Bhutan, Lao PDR None Initial until 5th
Cambodia, Sam oa None Initial until 3rd
Malaysia, Pakistan, Papua New
 Guinea, Vanuatu None Initial until 2nd
DPR of Korea None Initial
India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal Initial 2nd and 3rd
Australia, Indonesia, Thailand Initial until 3rd 4th and 5th
Philippines Initial until 4th 5th and 6th
Fiji Initial 2nd
Singapore Initial until 2nd None

Table Source: Compiled from <www.unhchr/tbs/doc.nsf/
RepTatfrset?OpenFramseSet> [retrieved 2nd July 2002]


* Endnotes

(1) "Purpose of the Report" from IWRAW Asia Pacific's website at <www.iwraw-ap.org/StateReportElements.html> [retrieved 2nd July 2002].

(2) Action Canada for Population and Development. 2000. The Application of Human Rights to Reproductive and Sexual Health: A Compilation of the Work of International Human Rights Treaty Bodies. Toronto: ACPD.

(3) In April 2002, the CEDAW Committee revised its guidelines for the writing of the reports-both initial and periodic. CEDAW/C/2002/II/4 (which is presently still a draft) is to be effective for all reports prepared after 31 December 2002. See <www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/ cedaw/cedaw27/waysandmeans.pdf>, p.11.

(4) The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights have given guidelines for state Party reporting.

(5) More detailed guidelines to monitor and contribute to the implementation of CEDAW have been developed by IWRAW Asia Pacific (see <www.iwraw-ap.org/ StateReportElements.html>) and jointly by the Commonwealth Secretariat, UN Division for the Advancement of Women and IWRAW (Minnesota), "Assessing the Status of Women: A Guide to Reporting Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women".

* By Angela M. Kuga Thas, Programme Manager, ARROW
COPYRIGHT 2002 Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women
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Author:Thas, Angela M. Kuga
Publication:Arrows For Change
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:May 1, 2002
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