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Women: Discrimination

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 5 January 2010

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they are not promoting a United Kingdom candidate for membership of the United Nations Agency for Women or the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. [HL590]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ascertain whether there are qualified United Kingdom candidates for membership of the United Nations Agency for Women or the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. [HL591]

The UK remains fully committed to the protection and promotion of all human rights, including the rights of women. We are strong supporters of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its committee. The UK last presented its report on our implementation of the convention to the committee in 2008.

The UK promotes gender equality and women's rights through our membership of the Human Rights Council; our current membership of the Commission for the Status of Women; our promotion of women’s rights bilaterally and through international organisations; and our support for the creation of a new composite UN gender entity for women.

The UK has a clear policy in relation to UN appointments which is focused on promoting open, transparent and merit-based selection that attracts as broad a representation as possible. It may sometimes be the case that the best candidate for the job may not be a UK national.

When assessing whether to field a candidate for upcoming vacancies within the treaty-monitoring bodies of the UN international human rights treaties, and the other human rights bodies of the UN, to which we are eligible to nominate candidates, the UK takes into account a range of factors, including: the impact that a UK incumbent can have on UK priorities; the current number of UK experts on these bodies; the balance of bodies on which we wish to be represented; whether there are other candidates standing who can represent UK interests; and the resources and political capital available with which to run election campaigns. We prioritise our election bids to stand the best chance of success to those bodies identified on these criteria. Elections are frequently contested by a large number of candidates from a wide range of countries.

For 2010, Patrick Thornberry will be the UK candidate for CERD (Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination). The UK will also be standing for the ACABQ (Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions). The UK has to date not put forward a candidate for the CEDAW committee. However, we do not rule out our fielding a candidate in the future. The appointment of the Under Secretary-General to head the new UN Gender Entity will be made by the UN Secretary-General, and not by election.