Wednesday, September 23, 2009

U.N. set to create new women's entity

The General Assembly of the United Nations voted Monday in favor of a draft resolution consolidating all U.N. agencies and divisions addressing women's issues into a single entity.
Called for is the amalgamation of the following:
► the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues (OSAGI);
► the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW);
► the U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); and
► the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).
The move was partly driven by the lack of a centralized voice for gender issues in the U.N. labyrinth. As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated:

'U.N. gender architecture lacks a recognized driver. It is fragmented. It is inadequately funded, and insufficiently focused on country-driven demands.'
To remedy such fragmentation and underfunding, the entity is expected to have a budget of approximately $ 1 billion and its own Under Secretary-General, who will report directly to the Secretary-General.
Tasks for the entity are much less clear. The draft resolution only states that the consolidation will "take into account the existing mandates" of the agencies to be merged.
Last-minute opposition to the resolution by member states such as Cuba, Egypt, Iran and Sudan allegedly resulted in the absence of a specific mandate for the composite entity -- an absence that led Oxfam to label such opposition "deplorable." Secretary-General Ban needs quickly to draft a mission statement, organizational chart, funding plan, and executive board proposal for General Assembly approval.
The consolidation initiative first had been proposed amid discussions about U.N. reform, which began during the tenure of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Advocacy around this week's resolution was led by a group called Gender Equity Architecture Reform. GEAR now is pressing for the timely appointment of an under secretary-general for the entity as well as full funding.

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