British Government not backing UK Women for CEDAW Vacancies and the new UN Super-Agency For Women
Further to the response by Michael Foster to written Questions in the Commons from the MP Jo Swinson (see below at ‘Questions tabled and answered in the House of Commons’), the eminent human rights and equal opportunities Queen’s Counsel Lord Lester plans to table the following Questions in the Upper House:
Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their reasons for having decided not to promote a UK candidate for membership of the UN Agency for Women or the UN Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to ascertain whether there are qualified UK candidates for membership of the UN Agency for Women or the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Questions tabled and answered in the House of Commons
Question by Jo Swinson MP (East Dunbartonshire, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2009, Official Report, column 27W, on the United Nations: females, if his Department will prepare a list of UK women nationals to be considered for nomination to senior positions on (a) the Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and (b) the United Nations Agency for Women.
Response from Michael Foster MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development; Worcester, Labour)
The UK Government are committed to promoting a good quality field of candidates for the heads and senior leadership of all institutional institutions. In all cases we will promote open, transparent and merit-based processes. In some cases we may wish to promote a UK candidate where they are best qualified for the post. We have no plans to promote a UK candidate for either of these two appointments.
CEDAW is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It is described as an international Bill of Rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. It was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly. In CEDAW’s 30 years of existence British Governments have never nominated anyone for the influential CEDAW Committee. Several vacancies occur in 2010.
More information by UN DAW at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw.htm
The new United Nations ‘Super-Agency’ For Women
In 2010 four existing United Nations agencies and offices - UNIFEM, INSTRAW, OSAGI, DAW - will be amalgamated to create a new single entity within the Organization to promote the rights and well-being of women worldwide and to work towards gender equality. The Head of this ‘Super-Agency For Women’ will have Under Secretary-General standing and an annual budget mooted at around US$1 billion. S/he will be appointed in the Spring 2010 and will seek nominations for senior posts from UN Member States including the UK. This Agency should become the most powerful entity in the world for the more rapid advance of the rights, opportunities and well-being of the Earth’s 3.5 billion women.
Further info: ‘Finally, a UN Agency for Women.’ Guardian article by UK Political Journalist of The Year 2009 Lesley Abdela: