Women delegates protesting at the Beijing conferenceWomen delegates gagged to symolize China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices at the Beijing conferenceWomen delegates gagged to symolize China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices at the Beijing conferenceWomen delegates gagged to symolize China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices at the Beijing conferenceWomen delegates gagged to symolize China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices at the Beijing conference


"An international organisation may easily develop an interest in a local issue...A local voluntary association may just as easily become a participant in an international regime". Our Global Neighbourhood: The Report of the Commission on Global Governance, 1995.
The Platform for Action (PFA) was designed to follow-up the 
Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies to the Year 2000, is a framework 
for the promotion of women's equality into the next century and 
reflects the Conference slogan, "Action for Equality, Development
and Peace". The draft PFA was compiled by the Conference Secretariat
and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), with input from UN
agencies, five regional government meetings, national governments, 
expert meetings and NGOs.

The FWCW was notable for the extensive participation of NGOs, who 
contributed directly to the PFA through their participation in the 
general debate.In his message to the conference, UN General-Secretary 
Boutros Boutros-Ghali spoke of the "new legitimacy of the 
organisations of civil society as actors on the international scene".

A.The TWD and the Platform for Action

The increased participation of  NGOs offered Tibetans living in exile 
sustained access to the debate and a venue to advocate for issues 
which directly affect Tibetan women living inside occupied Tibet.The 
TWD carried out this mandate by adopting a broad position on the PFA 
and following up on specific wording regionally, through state governments 
and on the international level.Input on specific wording was revised, 
through consensus, following each Preparatory Conference in reaction 
to the advances and losses incurred along the road to Beijing.

The TWD focused its interventions on the issue of foreign occupation,
taking the position that every aspect of women's lives is affected 
in a negative way by the occupation itself.The occupation denies 
the most fundamental of rights to its victims and impacts women and
children in specific ways.In its lobbying effort, the TWD consistently 
expressed solidarity with the women of Eastern Turkestan, Inner 
Mongolia, the West Bank and Gaza, Chechnya, East Timor, Northern 
Ireland, Cyprus and indigenous peoples around the world.  Within 
the encompassing category of foreign occupation, the TWD highlighted
three themes:

Women's Health, specifically forced abortion and sterilisation. 
Violence Against Women, specifically state violence, including
arbitrary arrest and torture in prisons. Management of Natural
Resources, specifically the testing of nuclear weapons on and 
bordering Tibetan territory and the cross-border transport of 
toxic materials. 

As sub-texts to these issues, the TWD also intervened on the 
related issues of the impunity with which perpetrators of the 
violations act, and post-conference implementation of the PFA
findings at both the national and international levels.

Although foreign occupation language had appeared in the original
draft PFA text introduced by the Conference Secretariat, it had 
been removed following the preparatory conferences held in Jakarta,
Amman and Dakar. At the regional preparatory conference held in
Vienna in October 1993, the Tibet lobby successfully re-addressed
the issue of foreign occupation by forging valuable links with 
like-minded women's groups and influencing the NGO Forum to include 
it in its recommendations to the government meeting. Additionally, 
specific wording proposed by the TWD on the issue of impunity was
included in the Vienna NGO consensus document.

The success of the TWD's effort was reinforced at the final global 
Preparatory Conference held in New York in March 1995.There 
Tibetan women maintained a high profile and focused on specific
pre-determined wording in a systematic effort to include foreign 
occupation and forced abortion/sterilisation wording into the draft 
document. Heading into the official UN Conference in Beijing, 
brackets remained around much of that text.Because of the 
logistical impediments of the NGO Forum, there was little or no 
opportunity for NGOs to come up with consensus recommendations
to the official Conference and therefore, in terms of the PFA, 
the NGO Forum had little effect.  

Nevertheless it was the first time in a world conference that NGOs
were allowed to attend and lobby the drafting committees at the 
official governmental Conference.The main drafting committee was
divided into two working groups, which in turn set up smaller 
"contact" groups to deal with particularly contentious issues.
NGOs were not permitted access to these "contact" groups. However,
thematic caucuses and regional caucuses were able to work the floor 
throughout the process.  Again, the TWD was effective due to its
regional lobbying in the months before the FWCW and the support
it had developed amongst influential women's organisations and 
friendly governments.

Although the text of the PFA is not legally binding it does invite 
governments to implement its findings.It condemns many violations 
of women's rights which have become commonplace in occupied Tibet,
and in doing so, reflects an international consensus that such 
practices should cease. The reputation of governments within the 
global community depends in great part on their compliance with 
international agreements.It is the responsibility of civil society
to hold responsible their respective governments and the regional 
and international organisations which monitor multilateral agreements 
such as the PFA.

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© Copyright Tibetan Women's Delegation, April 1996.