On 14 October 2013, France lifted its last reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
France had ratified the Convention in December 1983 with reservations. These reservations concerned in particular the transmission of the family name to children. They were lifted in the context of the “marriage for all” law which gives equal rights to both parents in choosing the name of the child.
At a ceremony in New York, the French Minister of Women’s Rights and the Government Spokesperson, Mrs. Najat Belkacem-Vallaud, presented to the UN office of Legal Affairs the official letter of the French Government lifting these reservations.
Following the ceremony, the Minister said that even though the decision was mainly symbolic for France, which already implements the Convention, she wanted it to have a strong impact on other countries and encourage them to lift their reservations.
Gathered in London on 11 April 2013, G8 Foreign ministers adopted a historical declaration establishing rape and other forms of sexual violence in armed conflicts as grave breaches of the Geneva Convention as well as war crimes.
Read the complete declaration here.
On 18 October 2013, the Security Council held its annual debate on "Women, Peace and Security”. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary General, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Ms. Brigitte Balipou, member of the NGO Working group on Women, Peace and Security attended the meeting.
The theme for the discussion was Women, the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict situations. The Security Council reaffirmed, by unanimously passing Resolution 2122 (2013), its commitment to combat sexual violence against women and impunity for perpetrators. It also reaffirmed the need for the involvement of women in promoting peace.
In his intervention, Mr. Ban Ki-moon said that women, transitional justice and the rule of law were intimately connected. He recalled the central importance of women’s involvement to resolve conflicts and establish peace through transitional justice. Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka underlined the need to create the necessary space to place women’s leadership at the centre of peace efforts. In this regard, she urged the Security Council, the United Nations, regional organizations and Member States to keep a seat for women during peace negotiations.
Ms. Navanethem Pillay underscored that the situation of women in armed conflicts remained a challenge, taking as an example Syria and the Central African Republic. She emphasized the importance of mainstreaming gender issues for the foundations of traditional justice and noted efforts in this regard in several countries. She indicated the importance of an inclusive approach and supported the Secretary General’s recommendation to strengthen the link between peace and security, human rights and development.
Ms. Brigitte Balipou underlined that 13 years after the adoption of resolution 1325, the main challenges remained. She said that transitional justice required no amnesty for violations of women’s human rights and concluded by calling on the Security Council to react to the conflict in the Central African Republic.
In his intervention, the Representative of France recalled that no conflict could be resolved without the involvement and the participation of half of mankind. He said that much remained to be done and, in this respect, he urged the United Nations to be exemplary. Deploring the alarming situation in the Central African Republic and in Syria, he emphasized that justice remained the cornerstone of post-conflict stabilization and called for the International Criminal Court to play its full part. The majority of the members of the Council affirmed the need to place peace, security and women at the heart of their work with a collective and coordinated action.
On 24 June 2013, the Security Council convened a debate with Mrs. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women’s Rights and French Government Spokesperson, Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General, Mrs. Zainab Bangura, Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict and Mrs. Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy of UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The speakers condemned the use of rape as a weapon of terror in conflict and the Security Council reaffirmed, by adopting unanimously the resolution S/RES/2106, its commitment to the fight against sexual violence and the impunity of perpetrators.
In her statement and during a press conference following the debate, the Minister of Women’s Rights stressed that concrete measures preventing violence and protecting the victims, systematic prosecution of offenders and promotion of the full participation of women in peace processes were essential to eradicate violence against women and promote their universal and indivisible rights.
On 17 April 2013, the Secretary-general Mr. BAN Ki-moon presented his report on sexual violence in armed conflicts to the Security Council during its monthly debate.
During his intervention, the French Representative highlighted the progresses made by the Security Council which, by adopting resolutions 1325 and then 1820, refused to consider sexual violence as a fate in armed conflicts and established tools permitting to take it into account in the conflict resolution period and in the post-conflict period.
He condemned the omnipresence of such violence in Democratic Republic of Congo, in Syria, in Northern Mali and in Central African Republic, where perpetrators of crimes should be held accountable.
At the conclusion of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Agreed Conclusions have been adopted. They represent the strong commitment of Member States to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.
On 30 November 2012, the Security Council held its annual debate on "Women, Peace and Security" in the presence of Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, Mr. Hervé Ladsous, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Ms. Bineta Diop, Executive Director of the NGO “Femmes Africa Solidarité”. The theme of the debate was the role of women’s organizations of civil society in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding.
In his statement, the representative of France welcomed the progress achieved in the inclusion of women in peacebuilding, since the adoption of resolution 1325 in 2000. He deplored the unequal representation of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts process. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali or Afghanistan, women were much too often the target of sexual violence.
On 24 April 2012, the Security Council held its annual debate on "women, peace and security" in the presence of Ms Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN-Women and Mr. Hervé Ladsous, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations
The theme of the debate was the role of women in post-crisis strategies and in peacekeeping operations. Ms. Bachelet deplored the lack of recognition of women’s efforts towards democracy and in the political institutions that they helped establish. Mr. Ladsous stressed that the lack of free movement and the intimidation against women often hindered their integration in the electoral process. Temporary special measures could be taken in this regard, increasing the safety of women by the police, training them as candidates and urging political parties to promote greater representation. Ms. Bachelet called for a better consideration of the issue of gender when voting on country resolutions or renewal of the missions’ mandate.
On 23 February 2012, the Security Council held a debate on "Women, peace and security" during which interventions were made by Ms. Margot Wallström, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Mr. Herve Ladsous, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Ms. Amina Megheirbi for the Non-Governmental Organization Working Group on the matter.
The conflict-related sexual violence represented a worldwide threat as well as an obstacle to peace-building, particularly in light of its increasing use as a strategic weapon in conflict. However, Ms. Wallström commended the broad consensus within the international community on the matter and the gradual establishment of protection mechanisms.
In his statement, the French representative expressed concerns over the alarming level of sexual violence in conflict, calling for the deployment of officers protecting women in United Nations missions. The continued policy of "zero tolerance" in peacekeeping operations remained crucial.
On 28 October 2011, the Security Council held its annual debate on "Women, peace and security" on the topic of women’s participation in conflict prevention and mediation, with the participation of Ms Michelle Bachelet , Executive Director of UN Women.
In his statement, the representative of France welcomed the role of women in particular the Arab Spring. He also reiterated the importance that women continue to be represented and actively consulted in the process of reforms. Finally, he reiterated the commitment of France in the framework of its national action plan to strengthen the direct involvement of women in reconstruction operations and decision-making.
A presidential statement was adopted at the end of the debate.
On 16 December 2010, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1960 on "Women, peace and security" in review process of the implementation of resolution 1325 on sexual violence in armed conflicts. In his statement, the Permanent Representative of France recalled the three major steps achieved thus resolution. It enabled the Security Council to obtain reliable information in real time, as a basis for its action. It opened the way for the listing of parties who commit sexual violence in a systematic way and,. finally,, it enhanced the prospect of sanctions against the perpetrators and those responsible for sexual violence.
On 26 October 2010, to mark the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325 "Women, Peace and Security", the Security Council held an open debate at ministerial level.
In his statement, the permanent representative of France recalled that France adopted a national action plan for implementation of resolution 1325. He outlined the priorities that should guide the United Nations: improve the effectiveness of the international community in the fight against sexual violence, use the monitoring indicators set up by 1325 in conjunction with Member States, and increase women’s contribution to conflict resolution.
A presidential statement was adopted at the end of the debate.
On 27 September 2010, Francois Zimeray, Ambassador for Human Rights, participated, in the margins of the UN General Assembly, in a conference celebrating the tenth anniversary of the adoption by the Security Council of UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in the presence of Hillary Clinton.
This meeting was an opportunity to take stock of the action of the international community and of France in favour of women’s participation in the processes of maintaining and consolidating peace in the world, and their protection from violence, particularly against sexual violence in conflict.
Francois Zimeray reaffirmed the commitment of France in favour of greater openness of national administrations and international organizations to female staff. He also presented the concrete actions of France to implement resolution 1325, including the development of national action plan for better integration of women.
The Security Council held a briefing under the agenda item "Women, Peace and Security "on 27 April 2010 with Mrs Wallström, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. The representative of France supported the concrete measures proposed by Mrs Wallström in the context of the implementation of resolution 1888, such as the establishment of teams of experts that would be deployed quickly in the field, and the establishment, within peacekeeping operations, of women’s protection advisors. A presidential statement was adopted at the end of the debate. It marks the start of consultations between the Secretariat and the Security Council that should lead to the adoption in October 2010 (tenth anniversary of resolution 1325) of a coherent set of indicators, pursuant to resolution 1889.
The Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1889 on 5 October 2009, in the presence of the Vietnamese Foreign Affairs Minister who chaired the session. The resolution falls within the framework of the review of the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) on “Women, peace and security.” It includes certain advancements relative to the implementation of founding resolution 1325: demanding language with regard to the medical needs of women who are victims of sexual violence, Council’s request to the secretariat to identify indicators within six months in order to allow progress to be monitored.
The Security Council, chaired by Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, unanimously adopted resolution 1888 on 30 September 2009, demanding that all parties in armed conflict immediately introduce measures to protect civilians, in particular women and children, against all forms of sexual violence.
This new text on "Women, peace and security" falls within the framework of the review of resolution 1820 on sexual violence in armed conflict. It should help to make its implementation more effective, thanks to several concrete measures that are planned.
The resolution introduces four major innovations:
- the appointment of a UNGS Special Representative for Women and Armed Conflict;
- the publication of annual reports containing detailed information on the groups and individuals that have committed acts of violence
- the establishment of a group of experts to be deployed on the ground
- the appointment of advisors responsible for the protection of women within peacekeeping operations.
France’s stance on the issue of "Women, peace and security"
France has been at the forefront of the protection of women in armed conflict and in the recognition of their role in conflict prevention, peace, reconstruction and democratic processes in post-conflict situations.
Rama Yade, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights, chaired a meeting in October 2007 with members of the Security Council and NGOs on ways to address the problem of violence against women during armed conflict. She participated in the debate on the occasion of the adoption of resolution 1820 in June 2008.
France played an active role in the adoption of resolution 1820 on the topic of sexual violence in armed conflict. This resolution signaled the international community’s true awareness of the situation and the need to significantly intensify efforts in the fight against sexual violence in armed conflict and to fight against impunity.
France also played a leading role in strengthening the mandate of MONUC (peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) to prevent sexual violence, given the seriousness of their magnitude in the country.
Resolution 1325 (2000): this resolution recognizes in particular that the representation and participation of women in society and in decision-making processes, as well as their protection from violence and violations of their rights, play a key role in the prevention of conflicts, the reestablishment of peace and reconstruction.
Resolution 1820 (2008): this resolution recognizes in particular that during armed conflicts, sexual violence can become an actual weapon of war, and that it can represent an obstacle to reestablishing peace and international security.
Resolution 1888 (2009): This resolution introduces new tools allowing more effective application of resolution 1820: special representative, annual reports, expert groups, advisors within peacekeeping operations.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 which entered into force in 1981. There are currently 187 States parties to the convention (as of June 2011). France signed the convention in 1980 and ratified it in 1983. In 1999, the General Assembly adopted an optional protocol through which States recognize the competence of the CEDAW Committee to examine individual complaints. France is party to the optional protocol since 2000.
By ratifying the Convention, the States pledge to take all necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, in all areas, including in political, economic, social, cultural and civil areas.
The Convention has a semi-permanent organ, the CEDAW Committee, composed of 23 independant experts, charged with ensuring the effective implementation of the Convention by monitoring the situation of women in each country. Individual complaints can be referred to the Committee. France is represented by Mrs. Ameline, former Minister responsible for Parity and Equality in the Workplace.
The violations of women’s rights, the inequalities that are only slowly being eliminated in the political, economic and social fields, prove that efforts should be renewed in order to make the equality described in the texts a reality. Unfortunately, the many reservations with regard to the Convention which are contrary to the principle of gender equality have a negative impact on its effectiveness.
France and the Netherlands instigated a framework resolution (61/143) in 2006 which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and which urged for increased efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women. Since then, the resolution has been adopted by consensus every year at the General Assembly.
The United Nations decided in 1999 with resolution 54/134 that 25 November would be the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Under the French presidency of the EU Council, France prompted the adoption of new EU guidelines on violence against women and the fight against all forms of discrimination against women, which provide a framework for the actions undertaken by the diplomatic network of the EU and the Member States. These guidelines also encourage efforts to fight against discrimination against women in legislation and in practice.
On 18 December 2009, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said: "France wishes that the Human Rights Council appoint a recognized expert, with unquestionable skills, whose mandate will complement the work of the CEDAW Committee, in order to advance all the countries in this direction."
On 1st October 2010, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution A/HRC/RES/15/23 which establishes a working group composed of five independent experts on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice. The main task of the working group is to develop a dialogue with States, the relevant United Nations entities, national human rights institutions, experts on different legal systems, and civil society organizations to identify, promote and exchange views on best practices related to the elimination of laws that discriminate against women or are discriminatory to women in terms of implementation or impact.
On 2 July 2010, the General Assembly adopted resolution 64/289 creating UN Women. This new entity within the UN system aims to strengthen institutional mechanisms for promoting gender equality and empower women.
Launched on 1st January 2010, the main roles of UN Women are:
— To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
— To help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.
— To hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.
Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s former president, was appointed by the Secretary General as the head of UN Women with the rank of Under-Secretary-General. She has broad powers to promote gender equality in UN structures and programs. She announced her resignation on 15 March 2013, at the end of the 57th Commission on the Status of Women.
The creation of UN Women is part of the ongoing discussions on UN reform that aims to bring together resources and mandates for greater impact. In September 2009, the General Assembly adopted by consensus resolution 63/311 on UN system-wide coherence (See file on SWC), proposing the creation of a “composite entity,” which would bring together all of the various institutions that focus on women’s issues within the United Nations system.
UN Women is the result of the merger of four separate components dedicated exclusively to gender equality and empower women: the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the International Research and Training the advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the Office of the special Adviser on gender (OSAGI) and the Fund for United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
On 10 November 2010, France was elected to become a member of the Governing Council of UN Women for a two-year term by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The Commission on the Status of Women is a functional commission of ECOSOC, dedicated to gender equality and advancement of women. It meets every year in New York in March. The Commission in 1946.
From 4 to 15 March 2013 was held in New York, the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This year, the general debate focused on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
On 4 March 2013, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women’s Rights and spokesperson of the Government has participated in the side event "Violence against women: Our concern, our response" co-organized by the Council of Europe and France. In his speech, the Minister of Women’s Rights she particularly mentioned the commitment of France in the fight against forced marriages and genital mutilation. On this occasion, new countries have announced their intention to ratify the Convention of the Council of Europe signed in Istanbul in 2011, the first legally binding instrument on violence against women.
During the high-level Francophone Dialogue on violence against women and girls, which was held on 4 March 2013, Najat Belkacem-Vallaud recalled the collective responsibility of governments to the fight against violence against women a priority. The minister also stressed that the fight against violence against women should transcend cultural differences and the Francophonie was its diversity, to the forefront of this business.
On 5 March 2013, Ms. Najat Belkacem-Vallaud spoke in the general debate of the 57th session of the CSW in the presence of Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, and representatives from all countries UN members. During her speech, the Minister of Women’s Rights stated that violence against women were extremely revealing of all other inequalities between men and women. She emphasized that the denial of sexual and reproductive rights is often the first denial of women’s rights.
On 15 March 2013, the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women concluded with the adoption of agreed conclusions. These findings exemplify the commitment of Member States to prevent and eliminate violence against women. At the end, the Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, announced her resignation. Lakshmi Puri has been appointed Acting Director if the organisation.
The 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women opened in New York on 27 February and will last until 9 March 2012. The topic of the general debate is the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges. Leaders, decision-makers, producers or entrepreneurs, the contributions of rural women are vital to the well-being of families and communities, and of local and national economies.
On 27 February 2012, Ms. Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister of Solidarity and Social Cohesion, attended the opening of the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (Read her statement. She participated in a High-level round table on the empowerment of rural women.
On 28 February 2012, Ms. Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin also participated in a side-event organized at the initiative of France and Tunisia on “Girls: Control of their body and access to development”.
She also met with President Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN women.
The 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women was held in New York from 22 February 22 to 4 March 2011. The topic of the general debate is access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including the promotion of equal access to full employment and decent work.
Ms. Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister of Solidarity and Social Cohesion, visited New York on 24 February 2011 to attend the 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin also participated in a side-event organized at the initiative of France on the issue of gender violence in schools and their impact on the education of girls.
She also met with President Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN women.
The 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, from 1 to 12 March 2010, in New York, commemorated the 15th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Conference. The Beijing Platform for Action outlines twelve critical areas of concern.
This 54th session provided an opportunity to reaffirm the Commission’s achievements and the duty of the States to implement their commitments, with the adoption of a political statement on 2 March.
This meeting also helped prepare for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Review Summit which will take place in September. It also highlighted the need to promote the equal participation of women and men at all levels and in all sectors of society.
This Commission was a major event: more than 10,000 participants attended. They addressed the major issues related to the status of women, such as education, employment, training, and the consequences of the economic crisis.
International Women’s Day was celebrated on 3 March to highlight the universal character of human rights, including and in particular women’s rights.
France co-organized two parallel events on the topic of the fight against violence towards women (one of the critical areas of concern outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action):
— a ministerial meeting of the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF) on 1 March to adopt a statement on the fight against violence towards women.
— a Franco-American parallel event on the role of men in the prevention of violence against women on 2 March.
Finally, France encouraged NGOs to participate in this Commission by sponsoring two other meetings on 5 March:
— one organized by the Coordination of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and the associations of women in solidarity and women’s associations monitoring progress on women’s rights throughout the world since 1946;
— and the other jointly organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the “Equality Now” organization which aims to promote the elimination of discriminatory laws against women.
All documents relating to this session are available on the United Nations website.
The fifty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 22 February to 4 March 2011. It will address the theme of access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.
18 October 2013 - Security Council - Women, Peace and Security – Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
24 June 2013 - Security Council - Women and Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict - Statement by Mrs. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women’s Rights, Government Spokesperson
17 April 2013 – Security Council – Women, Peace and Security – Statement by Mr. Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
30 November 2012 - Security Council - Women, Peace and Security - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations.
27 February 2012 - General Assembly - openning of the 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women - Statement by Mrs Ms. Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister for Solidarity and Social Cohesion
23 February 2012 - Security Council - Women and Peace and Security - Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
28 October 2011 - Security Council - Women, Peace and Security - Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
16 December 2010 - Security Council - Women and peace and security - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
26 October 2010 - Security Council - Women and peace and security - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
27 April 2010 - Security Council - Women and peace and Security - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
5 October 2009 - Security Council - Women and peace and security - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
30 September 2009 - Security Council - Women and peace and security - Statement by Mr. Alain Joyandet, French Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie
7 August 2009 - Security Council: Women and peace and security - Statement by Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
2 - 13 March 2009 - Commission on the Status of Women – Press release
19 June 2008 - Security Council - Women and peace and security – Statement by Ms. Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights of France
18 October 2013 - Security Council Resolution 2122
15 March 2013 - CSW - Agreed Conclusions
28 October 2011 - Presidential statement
16 December 2010 - Security Council Resolution 1960
26 October 2010 - Statement by the President of the Security Council
27 April 2010 - Statement by the President of the Security Council - Women, Peace and Security
From 1 to 12 March 2010 - Commission on the Status of Women - New-York
5 October 2009 - Security Council resolution 1889 - Women, Peace and Security
30 September 2009 - Security Council resolution 1888 - Women, Peace and Security
30 January 2009 - General Assembly Resolution 63/155 - Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women
19 June 2008 - Security Council Resolution 1820 - Women and peace and security
7 February 2008 - General Assembly Resolution 62/133 - Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women
30 January 2007 - General Assembly Resolution 61/143 - Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women
31 October 2000 - Security Council Resolution 1325 - Women and peace and security
Section on women’s rights on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Website of the UN Division for the Advancement of Women
Website of UN Women
Website of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
Website of the United Nations Population Fund