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UN rights panels on women's anti-discrimination, child rights set to begin 2003 sessions

UN rights panels on women's anti-discrimination, child rights set to begin 2003 sessions

United Nations treaty-monitoring bodies on women's anti-discrimination and the protection of children's rights are set to open their first substantive sessions of the new year next week.

States parties to both the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child are expected to send representatives to the respective monitoring committees to present their periodic reports on national efforts to give effect to their treaty obligations.

The twenty-eighth session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) will open on Monday at UN Headquarters in New York and is scheduled to run through the end of the month.

The 23 experts of the women's anti-discrimination Committee, who serve in their personal capacities, have met twice annually since 1997. For their opening meeting this year they are scheduled to review the compliance reports of eight States parties, including Albania, Switzerland, Canada, Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Kenya, Luxembourg, and Norway.

In pursuing the Convention's goals, countries are encouraged to introduce affirmative action measures designed to promote equality between women and men. The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 1979 and came into force in 1981. As of 7 January, the Convention has been ratified or acceded to by 170 countries.

Meanwhile, the promotion and protection of children's rights in Estonia, Republic of Korea, Italy, Romania, Solomon Islands, Viet Nam, Czech Republic, Haiti and Iceland will be reviewed when the Committee on the Rights of the Child begins its thirty-second session in Geneva from 13 to 31 January.

The Committee was formed in 1991 to monitor implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives a comprehensive collection of children's rights the force of international law. The countries scheduled to come before the Committee at this session are among the 191 to have ratified or acceded to the Convention. The treaty is the most widely accepted international human rights instrument - only Somalia and the United States have not ratified it.

The child rights Committee is composed of 10 independent experts, although countries have adopted an amendment to the Convention that will increase the membership to 18 to enable the Committee to face a rapidly growing workload.