[QODLink]
Americas

UN body adopts women's rights declaration

Religious and liberal nations agree, after two-week debate, on document urging end to violence against women and girls.
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2013 20:14

A United Nations policy-making body has agreed upon a declaration urging an end to violence against women and girls despite concerns from conservative Muslim countries and the Vatican about references to women's sexual and reproductive rights.

Conservative Muslim and Roman Catholic countries and more liberal nations on Friday night reached a consensus on a compromise document to loud applause at the end of a contentious two-week meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya, Nigeria and Sudan, along with Honduras and the Vatican, expressed reservations about the declaration, but did not block adoption of the 18-page text.

While the declaration of the commission, created in 1946 for the advancement of women, is non-binding, diplomats and rights activists say it carries enough global weight to pressure countries to improve the lives of women and girls.

"People worldwide expected action, and we didn't fail them. Yes, we did it," Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile and head of UN Women, which supports the commission, told delegates on Friday after two weeks on negotiations on the text.

Egypt warns

Earlier in the talks Iran, Russia, the Vatican and others had threatened to derail the declaration with concerns about
references such as access to emergency contraception, abortion and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, activists said.

A proposed amendment by Egypt, that would have allowed states to avoid implementing the declaration if they clashed
with national laws, religious or cultural values, failed.

Some diplomats said it would have undermined the whole document.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood had warned on Thursday that the declaration could destroy society.

But on Friday, Egypt's delegation said it would not stand in the way of the declaration for the sake of women's empowerment.

293

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.