CSW 59: NGOs object to a political declaration being adopted on the very first day of the session

Nyaradzayi GumbonzvandaThe Chair of the Bureau
UN Commission on the Status of Women
New York, USA

Your Excellency, Ambassador…….

Subject: Timing for the Adoption of Political Declaration at 59TH Session of the UNCSW

I am writing on behalf of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women-Geneva, following members meeting of January 13,2015, where I was directed to write to you on this matter.

We have been and remain actively involved in the Beijing Plus 20 process. In November, we convened the largest NGO Forum with almost 700 participants from the UNECE region. We appreciated the collaboration with member states, with UN Women and the ECE in this process. We also received information that the 59th Session of the CSW will not be adopting Agreed Conclusions at the end of the meeting, but will be adopting a Political Declaration.

While respecting the above decision, we are dismayed with the decision to adopt the Political Declaration during the opening session of the 59th Session of the CSW. We understand that the rationale for this decision is because a) senior government officials may not stay for the two weeks and b) the essence of the CSW is to focus on implementation. On both points, we expect at least once a year for the Ministers and other senior officials to accord quality time to the commission as it is a singular space for normative and standard setting. It is primary because of the focus on implementation that we expect the political declaration to carry some concrete and specific messages around implementation as its core ethos.

We recommend that such Declaration should be adopted at the end of the CSW preferably or the end of the first week for the following reasons:

  1. Significance of Beijing Plus 20. This is a very significant review and in a year in which the governments through the UN will be adopting the Sustainable Development Agenda post 2015. Many women especially young women were unable to participate in the regional reviews and are investing significant resources to come New York for this review. If the Political Declaration is adopted on the first day, many people will not see the need to travel to New York for two weeks without a tangible outcome.
  1. Adoption of the Political Declaration deprives the participants and delegates to CSW and meaningful contribution to the ethos of the Declaration. It narrows the space for civil society engagement and participation with the inter-governmental process itself. The rich and dynamic engagement and dialogues with member states in negotiations is the ethos which brings life and collective commitment and ownership of the outcome documents of such inter-governmental processes.
  1. While we understand that the Political Declaration will be made available online for civil society input this February, we recognise that the time is very short for communities to review, consult and send in their recommendation. Again this simply limits participation to those civil society and women’s networks that have access to internet or other modern forms of communications. This therefore would result in an exclusionary and elitist process that does not take into account the fundamental inequalities that exists in relation to access to information.
  1. The timing of the declaration also places a damper on the CSW 5TH Session, as it is then not clear as to what the real outcome of the two wk gathering will be and how that will be communicated. Its not clear whether there will be the Chair’s Summary or any other form of communication. A clarification on this point is essential for us to advise our members

We respected the decision of the member states not to hold a 5th Women’s World Conference, which we had anticipated and we still recommend; and we respect the decision not to have Agreed Conclusions. We therefore feel strong that this decision to adopt the political declaration on first day of the CSW further reduces space for civil society participation. We therefore strongly recommend a review of your decision on timing for adoption of the political declaration.

We continue to value your leadership in facilitating the CSW and the collaboration with us in civil society.

With kind regards
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda
NGO Committee on the Status of Women- Geneva


  • CSW Bureau Members
  • UN Women Executive Director
  • UN Secretary General
  • NGO CSW Members