Q : On July 17, France voted in favor of a resolution by the United Nations Economic and Social Council accusing Israel of conducting a policy with negative consequences for “Palestinian women and girls with regard to the fulfilment of their rights, and their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society.” How do you respond to critics of that vote, who point out that by voting alongside Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran – countries known to show little respect for women’s rights – French diplomats took part in an anti-Israel masquerade and contributed to further discrediting UN bodies?
A : Two resolutions came up for a vote before the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on July 23. That body is composed of 54 states, including nine EU member states. The first resolution deals with living conditions for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, and that of Arab residents in the occupied Syrian Golan. The second deals with the situation of Palestinian women and the assistance to be provided to them.
With respect to the first resolution, 45 states voted in favor, including all of the EU member states represented. As for the second resolution, 40 states voted in favor, including France and five other EU states. These two resolutions were therefore adopted with the support of a large majority of ECOSOC members, including European members.
Notwithstanding certain allegations, the resolution on Palestinian women and the assistance to be provided to them includes no mention of the State of Israel being the “only country that violates the rights of women.” Several times the resolution explicitly mentions the duty of all parties to protect civilian populations, in keeping with international humanitarian law. Article One does indeed reaffirm that the Israeli Occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian women and girls with regard to the fulfilment of their fundamental rights. But the resolution also emphasizes that Palestine must comply fully with its obligations as a State Party to human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The French vote is in line with our unwavering efforts on behalf of gender equality in France and worldwide, identified as a major cause by President Macron on March 8, 2017, and which France champions in multilateral bodies and in its bilateral relations. At the UN General Assembly, France presented a joint resolution with the Netherlands on combating violence against women. In 2020, under the auspices of UN Women, France and Mexico will co-host the Generation Equality Forum, which will mark the 25th anniversary of the Fourth UN World Conference on Women.