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Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Special Rapporteurs, Representatives, Independent Experts and Chairpersons of the Working Groups
of the Commission on Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland, 21-25 June 2004

Submission by International Women’s Rights Action Watch (Asia Pacific)
22 June 2004

I speak on behalf of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW Asia Pacific), an international organisation based in Malaysia and working towards the progressive interpretation and realisation of the human rights of women through the lens of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other international human rights treaties. We have significant presence in 12 countries in South and Southeast Asia with work being carried out in East Asia, the Pacific and Central Asia.

In many instances the work of Special Rapporteurs, Representatives, Independent Experts and Working Groups of the Commission on Human Rights have contributed to our efforts in enhancing the realisation of rights for women. Concretely, in 2003, we have co-organised with other NGOs (APWLD, COHRE and Habitat International), an Asia-Pacific consultation with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing on the Interlinkages between Women’s Rights to Adequate Housing and Violence against Women. In 2002, we also co-organised (with APWLD and Amnesty International), a consultation with the Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders on the Women Human Rights Defenders. These consultations have contributed to progressive interpretation of human rights standards and in elaborating on the normative content of rights, particularly on the human rights of women. It has also been instrumental in providing opportunities to NGOs, in particular national NGOs and women themselves, especially in countries where the rapporteurs themselves cannot visit, to share their experiences with the Special rapporteurs and to assist in the development of human rights standards in matters concern them directly. We urge the rapporteurs to continue with this continuous exchange with NGOs. Specifically, we challenge the special procedures to continue to provide special attention to the voices of women in carrying out their mandate and to heighten consultations with them in the development of human rights standards.

We further urge the Special Procedures to continuously work towards the progressive development of human rights and in this regard:

  • We welcome the continuous efforts of the Special Procedures in working together on common issues and in issuing joint statements. We believe this assist in the conscious development and movement towards ensuring the principle of indivisibility and interdependence of rights as well as provide a stronger mechanism to urge State compliance. Are there more ways to improve and systematise this existing procedure to enable more interlinkages and cooperation? What role should the Special Procedures play as a collective in contributing further to standard setting?
  • We urge enhanced and more systematised collaboration with treaty bodies. For example, input in processes where special procedures can suggest a list of questions or issues related to their mandate that could be considered in State parties review must be systematised. We encourage the Special Procedures to engage more systematically in the crafting of general comments/recommendations of treaty bodies. We also urge you to assist treaty bodies in following up their concluding comments/observations in a more consistent and systematic manner. Processes may also be developed where the findings of special rapporteurs and experts that point to a gross and systematic violations at the national level can be used to trigger the process for interim reports or reports in between the period of State Parties reporting and urgent measures procedures under the treaty bodies.
  • The mandate of the working group to discuss options for the elaboration of options for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has been extended. We encourage the special rapporteurs to play a critical role as experts in this working group. The strengthening of the Special Procedures is not only about enhancing its effectiveness alone but also in ensuring the cohesiveness and strengthening of the human rights system as a whole.

Prepared by Rea Chiongson, IWRAW Asia Pacific


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