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Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee: I am honored to appear before you today. I commend you for holding this hearing on the important issue of violations of women's human rights. Promotion of the rights of women is one of the highest priorities of President Clinton's human rights agenda, and it is central to the work of the Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. By holding these hearings, this subcommittee has helped focus attention on crucial aspects of the women's rights agenda, and I am delighted to contribute to this effort. Working together, I am confident that we can strengthen measures to attack gender-based abuses that persist around the world.
Three years ago, when this subcommittee held its first hearing on this subject, witnesses expressed concern that insufficient attention was focused on abuses of women. I would have agreed with this assessment then, and I am pleased that significant progress has taken place since then, particularly in recent months.
A major, recent victory for women's rights was achieved at the World Conference on Human Rights, where a very active U.S. delegation worked closely with women's groups to promote a substantial women's rights agenda. Women's groups were among the best organized and most effective of the hundreds of non-governmental organizations participating in the conference. Courageous survivors of gender-specific violence from countries around the globe spoke out at the conference's women's tribunal, emphasizing the truth of the simple but often ignored slogan: "Women's rights are human rights." The U.S. action plan for the conference, which was substantially adopted in the conference's Final Declaration, called for the systematic integration of women's issues into UN human rights programs, training of UN personnel to ensure sensitivity and competence in addressing gender-based abuses, and the appointment of more women to positions of responsibility within the UN.
In another sign of recent progress, the United States is helping lead the effort at the United Nations toward appointing a UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, as well as the adoption of a UN Declaration on Violence Against Women. In addition, we have continued and strengthened our monitoring of women's rights worldwide. For example, our annual country reports on human rights practices have grown increasingly detailed in their coverage of gender-specific issues. U.S. embassies are now instructed to report in greater …