Doc. 10404
19 January 2005

The Third Summit

Opinion1

Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men

Rapporteur for opinion: Mrs Minodora Cliveti, Romania, Socialist Group

I.       Conclusions of the Committee:

The Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men agrees with most of the proposals contained in the draft recommendation on the Third Summit tabled by the Political Affairs Committee but regrets that the gender dimension of many problems is not adequately reflected. In key areas (such as the promotion of pluralist democracy and the protection of human rights) ensuring equal participation of women and men in decision-making and in elections and offering equal protection of women, men and children against all forms of violence is essential to building the strong, united Europe based on common values the Third Summit is aiming at. The Committee thus wishes to propose a number of additions to include the gender dimension in the draft recommendation, as well as to reiterate certain demands of the Parliamentary Assembly – such as the drawing up of a charter for electoral equality and the organisation of a Pan-European campaign against domestic violence.

II.       Proposed additions to the draft recommendation contained in Doc. 10381 prov. tabled by the Political Affairs Committee:

Addition A:

In the draft recommendation, paragraph 6, add the following words at the end of the second sentence:

“as well as the fight against all forms of violence.”

Addition B:

In the draft recommendation, insert the following new sub-paragraph after sub-paragraph 18.i.c.C:

“equal participation of women and men in decision-making;”.

Addition C:

In the draft recommendation, insert the following new sub-paragraph after sub-paragraph 18.i.d:

“make the commitment to continue to fight against all forms of violence, including domestic violence;”.

Addition D:

In the draft recommendation, insert the following new sub-paragraph after sub-paragraph 18.ii.a.D:

“equality between women and men, in particular via gender mainstreaming;”.

Addition E:

In the draft recommendation, insert the following words at the end of sub-paragraph 18.ii.c,:

“and – in light of the experience of the drafting process of the Council of Europe Convention on action against trafficking in human beings – re-examine the current and future modalities of negotiations on draft legal instruments, so that the two organisations’ mutual goal of a common legal area fully respecting and promoting the human rights of all can be reached;”.

Addition F:

In the draft recommendation, insert the following new sub-paragraph after sub-paragraph 18.ii.d.A:

“protection of the right to women’s effective participation in elections by the elaboration of a charter for electoral equality, as recommended in Recommendation 1676 (2004) on women’s participation in elections;”.

Addition G:

In the draft recommendation, insert the following new sub-paragraph after sub-paragraph 18.ii.e.:

“decide to conduct a pan-European campaign against domestic violence in 2006, in co-operation with European and national players such as the European Commission, the European Parliament, associations and NGOs, as recommended in Assembly Recommendation 1681 (2004) on a campaign to combat domestic violence against women in Europe;”.

III.       Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur for opinion, Mrs Cliveti

A.        Introduction

1.        The Third Summit of the Council of Europe is scheduled to take place on 16-17 May 2005 in Warsaw, Poland. This Summit is meant to address the challenges which Europe will be facing in the coming years and provide the Council of Europe with a clear political mandate and position within the European institutional landscape. To this end, the Summit will adopt a Declaration and a Plan of Action.

2.        The Parliamentary Assembly will hold a debate on the Third Summit during its January 2005 part-session. Seven Committees are involved in the drafting process: the Political Affairs Committee (for report), the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population, to the Committee on Culture, Science and Education and the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (all for opinion).

3.        I consider that the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men could agree with most of the proposals contained in the draft recommendation on the Third Summit tabled by the Political Affairs Committee in Document 10381 prov. However, the gender dimension of many problems is not adequately reflected in the current draft, which is why I am particularly glad that our Committee is being given the opportunity to introduce additions already at this stage. In key areas (such as the promotion of pluralist democracy and the protection of human rights) ensuring equal participation of women and men in decision-making and in elections, and offering equal protection of women, men and children against all forms of violence is essential to building the strong, united Europe based on common values the Third Summit is aiming at. The Committee should thus propose a number of amendments to include the gender dimension in the draft recommendation, as well as to reiterate certain demands of the Assembly – such as the drawing up of a charter for electoral equality and the organisation of a Pan-European campaign against domestic violence.

B.       Gender mainstreaming

4.        The fundamental values of the Council of Europe which the Third Summit is setting out to reaffirm and put into practice all have a gender dimension. Pluralist democracy cannot be reached if half of the population (women) is effectively denied the right to vote or to be elected, be it through the abominable practice of “family voting” or through the “glass ceilings” in politics which lead to their under-representation in elected office2. Human rights include women’s rights, such as the right to be protected against violence perpetrated by non-state actors, be it female genital mutilation3, so called “honour-crimes”4, domestic slavery5 or domestic violence6. The rule of law includes the right of women and men to be equal before the law, in all areas – including nationality rights7. Finally, the new challenges of regional conflicts and terrorism also affect women, and require that women be fully associated in any measures taken to prevent and combat them8.

5.        The gender dimension of these issues needs to be adequately addressed at the Third Summit, and should also be reflected in any texts adopted. This is why I propose a number of additions to the draft recommendation tabled by the Political Affairs Committee which aim to include the issue of full equality between women and men (Additions A, B, C, D, and F), that could notably be reached via gender mainstreaming.

C.        Campaign to combat domestic violence against women in Europe

6.       In Recommendation 1681 (2004), the Parliamentary Assembly expressed its concern about the extent and escalation of domestic violence against women, a problem which extends to all Council of Europe member states. It recommended that the Committee of Ministers deal with the issue of domestic violence at the Third Council of Europe Summit and undertake to conduct a pan-European campaign against domestic violence in 2006, in co-operation with European and national players such as the European Commission, the European Parliament, associations and NGOs.

7.        It would seem advisable to repeat this request to the Committee of Ministers on the occasion of the Assembly debate on the Third Summit. Combating violence against women in general should remain a priority area of work within the Council of Europe. The organisation of a pan-European campaign to combat domestic violence against women in Europe in 2006, spear-headed by the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly, should figure in the Plan of Action to be adopted on the occasion of the Summit (Addition G).

D.        The draft Convention on action against trafficking in human beings

8.        The Ad Hoc Committee on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (CAHTEH) held its penultimate meeting on 7-10 December 2004. At this meeting, CAHTEH finalised the draft Council of Europe Convention on action against trafficking in human beings for submission to the Committee of Ministers – which, in turn, asked the Parliamentary Assembly for its opinion (scheduled to be adopted during the January 2005 part-session).

9.        The Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men has been associated with the drafting process throughout, and has formulated official Committee comments (AS/Ega (2004) 47) addressed to CAHTEH. It is currently preparing the draft opinion for debate in the Assembly. The Rapporteur, Mrs Vermot-Mangold, and I myself, feel, however, that the current draft Convention does not measure up to expectations. Many difficulties seem to have arisen as a result of a clash of mandates – the mandate given by our Committee of Ministers to CAHTEH and the one given by 22 EU member states to the European Commission to negotiate on their behalf in CAHTEH. The Committee of Ministers’ mandate was to “put a special focus on the human rights of the victims of trafficking and design a comprehensive framework for the protection and assistance of victims and witnesses…” and to “define a monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance of States Parties with the provisions of the Convention”. The European Commission mandate operates from an “illegal immigration” point of view and is thus much more restrictive.

10.        The result, as expressed in a letter I sent to the members of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, is a disappointingly weak draft Convention. The Committee has asked CAHTEH to amend the draft Convention so as to lessen states’ margin of appreciation, accord less importance to the domestic legislation of each state and to Community law in setting out the various concepts, place more emphasis both on the protection of victims and that of witnesses, and strengthen the provisions relating to the rights of victims. The draft opinion currently being prepared is expected to echo these calls.

11.        The Committee of Ministers has announced its intention to open the Convention on action against trafficking in human beings for signature on the occasion of the Third Summit. Provided that the amendments suggested by the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men – and ultimately those suggested by the Assembly itself during the January 2005 part-session – are duly taken into account, such a step would be welcome. However, the difficult negotiation process regarding this Convention shows that the process of treaty-making in the Council of Europe is affected by the enlargement, both geographically and regarding competences, of the European Union. The Third Summit may well provide the ideal occasion to re-examine the current and future modalities of such negotiations, so that the two organisations’ common goal of a common legal area fully respecting and promoting the human rights of all can be reached (Addition E).

E.        Conclusions

12.        The Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men should welcome the draft recommendation on the Third Summit tabled by the Political Affairs Committee, but insist that the gender dimension of the issues raised be adequately reflected and addressed. In particular, certain demands the Assembly has made over the past years concerning equality should be included in the text submitted to the Committee of Ministers – such as the drawing up of a charter for electoral equality and the organisation of a Pan-European campaign against domestic violence.

_________________

Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee

Committee seized for opinion: Committee on equal opportunities for women and men

Reference to Committee: Doc 10272, reference N 3001 of 8 October 2004

Opinion adopted by the Committee unanimously with one abstention on 14 January 2005

Secretaries of the Committee: Mrs Kleinsorge, Mrs Affholder, Ms Devaux


1 See Doc. 10381 prov. tabled by the Political Affairs Committee.

2 See Recommendation 1676 (2004) on women’s participation in elections.

3 See Resolution 1247 (2001) on female genital mutilation.

4 See Resolution 1327 (2003) on so-called “honour crimes”.

5 See Recommendation 1663 (2004) on domestic slavery: servitude, au pairs and “mail-order brides”.

6 See Recommendation 1582 (2002) on domestic violence against women and Recommendation 1681 (2004) on a campaign to combat domestic violence against women in Europe.

7 See Recommendation 1654 (2004) on nationality rights and equal opportunities.

8 See Recommendation 1665 (2004) on conflict prevention and resolution: the role of women.