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

SECTION VIII B. How To Use The Platform For Action

Foreign Occupation

Foreign occupation wording was un-bracketted and adopted in the
following paragraphs: 11, 42, 44, 116, 131, 135, 141, 142(b), 224,
247 and strategic objective E.1. Significant support from the 
United States and Canadian governments had a direct effect on final
adoption of this language. The TWD views paragraph 44, which identifies
one of the specific areas of concern to be studied in the PFA as "The
effects of armed or other kinds of conflict on women, including those
living under foreign occupation", and strategic objective E.1 which 
encourages governments to "Increase the participation of women in 
conflict resolution at decision-making levels and protect women living
in situations of armed and other conflicts or under foreign occupation",
as particularly significant.

Reproductive Rights

Because of the difficulty in moving back and forth from the 
NGO Forum in Huairou to the official Conference in Beijing, and 
because discussion on the women's health section of the PFA concluded 
on September 9, (having taken place during the days on which the Forum
and UN Conference overlapped), it was difficult for the TWD to lobby 
for the language on forced abortion and sterilisation in this section.  
However, reference to women's right to exercise their own reproductive 
choices free of coercion is made in paragraphs 11, 94, 96, 97, 106(h).
Para 96 establishes women's right to "have control and decide freely
and responsibly on matters related to....reproductive health, free of 
coercion, discrimination and violence", and para 97 relates the 
enjoyment of that right to the enjoyment of other basic rights. "The
ability of women to control their own fertility forms an important 
basis for the enjoyment of other rights".  

Significantly the PFA section on violence against women identifies the
issue of forced abortion and sterilisation within the context of armed 
conflict. Paragraph 115bis, provides a specific point of  reference 
for Tibetan women. "Acts of violence against women also include forced 
sterilisation and forced abortion, coercive/forced use of contraceptives, 
prenatal sex selection and female infanticide".

Women and Peace

Paragraph 143(f)ii. reflects the growing role of women in the
peace movement for the first time in a women's conference, including
language on the development of nuclear weapons. Although hotly 
debated and eventually minimised, the provision calls upon governments
to support negotiations on the conclusion of a comprehensive nuclear
test ban treaty and, pending its enforcement, to exercise restraint 
in nuclear testing.  The issue of cross border transport of toxic 
waste was debated until the final day of the conference. The interests
of powerful industrial nations prevailed despite intense and emotional 
lobbying by the environmental and indigenous caucuses and the 
governments of Fiji and Panama. However, the final language was so 
watered down as to be basically useless for future lobbying. 
Paragraph 258(c) gives governments an easy out by requiring them 
only to "consider taking action" towards the prohibition of such 


Paragraph 145(d) is key to future lobbying on behalf of Tibetan
prisoners of conscience. It asserts that rape in situations of armed 
conflict constitutes a war crime and, under certain circumstances, 
an act of genocide. In a direct reference to the issue of impunity, 
the same paragraph calls for the strengthening of mechanisms "to 
investigate and punish all those responsible and bring the 
perpetrators to justice".  Tibet NGOs will do well to cite this 
provision in future work at the UN Commission on Human Rights
through its various mechanisms, in particular the Special Rapporteur 
on Violence Against Women. Other specific references to impunity 
and the punishment of the perpetrators of violence in situations 
of armed conflict, are made in paragraphs 121 and 131.

Implementation of the PFA

The PFA section on implementation contains several recommendations 
useful  for Tibetan women on the local level, (such as with the 
Tibetan Government-in-exile), and at the CSW.  In paragraph 230(b), 
governments are encouraged to ratify  and implement the Convention 
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination  Against Women 
(CEDAW) by the year 2000 and to "ensure that no reservations 
are incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention...".  
With China's single reservation relating directly to the issue of 
accountability, this recommendation provides a specific lobbying
strategy for Tibet NGOs working in international fora.

For those organisations and individuals working within the exile 
community, paragraph 230(g) recommends the development of a 
comprehensive human rights education programme to raise awareness 
among women of women's human rights. Given the predominance of men 
at the administrative and decision-making levels of the Tibetan 
government-in-exile and social structures including the religious 
community, this suggestion provides the ideal first step in an 
advocacy strategy to bring the PFA to the exile community.

Paragraph 231(h) recommends increased coordination between 
the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the High Commissioner 
for Refugees.This provides a widened context within which the exile 
community and government can petition both offices.

Other Relevant Highlights

The Girl Child: Paragraph 283(d ) requests Legislation to
protect girls against all forms of violence, including infanticide.

Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs): The PFA contains 
recognition that SAPs, including policies of the international 
financial institutions, directly affect women and that the trend to 
economic globalisation exacerbates inequalities between men
and women.

Feminisation of Poverty: The failure to mainstream a gender 
perspective in all economic analysis and planning is a 
contributing factor to the growing feminisation of poverty.

Universality:  Women's human rights are universal and indivisible,
that is, cultural tradition is not a reason to deny women's rights 
nor is one right more important than another.

Intellectual Property: The knowledge of traditional medicines and
technologies of indigenous peoples is the property of those peoples
and must be protected from exploitation by transnational corporations.

Although several governments listed reservations to specific language
in the PFA, most pertained to issues outside areas of specific interest
to the TWD objectives.On the issue of foreign occupation, the United
States government issued an "interpretative statement" that foreign 
occupation is not "per se a violation of human rights" but that human
rights abuses can sometimes occur within situations of foreign 

However,the most daunting obstacle for those wishing to cite the 
PFA in the context of foreign occupation is not the United States'
reservation. Rather, convincing the international community that 
Tibet is an occupied country will be the major task.

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© Copyright Tibetan Women's Delegation, April 1996.