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6 Austl. Feminist L.J. 7 (1996)
Holding up Half the Sky, but for Whose Benefit: A Critical Analysis of the Fourth World Conference on Women

handle is hein.journals/afemlj6 and id is 15 raw text is: HOLDING UP HALF THE SKY, BUT FOR WHOSE BENEFIT?:
Dianne Otto *
The FourthWorld Conference onWomen (FWCW), held in Beijing from 4 to 15 September 1995,
was the biggest United Nations (UN) conference ever held. Over 50,000 people, mostly women,
participated in the official intergovernmental Conference and the parallel non-governmental (NGO)
Forum, which ran from 30August to 8 September at Huairou, about 50km from Beijing.' Participants
came from a total of 189 states and, in addition to the 400 NGOs which hold permanent consultative
status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), approximately 2,500 other NGOs were
accredited to attend.2
The event was defined by who wasn't there, as much as by who was. Two UN member states,
Saudi Arabia and Granada, did not register for the conference and two others, Somalia and the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenagro), were not invited.' Saudi Arabia was
reported as having consistently refused to participate in women's conferences Eight associate
members of the UN, mostly small South Pacific countries, also attended as conference participants.
In this category of attendees was the Holy See whose status as an associate member, rather than an
NGO, while uncontentious legally,' was considered highly questionable by many NGOs who
circulated a petition protesting its privileged classification. Absent NGOs included those who were
denied accreditation through the intervention of some states, notably China, Iran, Sudan and the
Holy See.6 Among those excluded were Taiwanese andTibetan groups, anti-fundamentalist Muslim
•  Dianne Otto, BA(Adel), LLB(Hons) (Melb), is a lecturer in law at the University of Melbourne. Funding for this research
was made available through the Special Initiatives Grant Scheme of the University of Melbourne. The author wishes to
thank Susan Brennan for the many challenging discussions related to this project, Chilla Bulbeck and an anonymous reader
for their helpful comments on the manuscript.
Amnesty International, Report on the Fourth World Conference on Women, IOR 41/30/95, 22.
2  Ibid, 3 and 17.
3   'Safely back from Huairou and Beijing', Global Faxnet, no 36, 25 September 1995.
4  Amnesty International, Report, above n1, 3.
s  Josef L Kunz,'The Status of the Holy See in International Law' (1952) 46 American Journal of International Law 308.
6   'Vatican intervenes on women's conference', TheAge, 17 March 1995, 3;'UN protest onTibet ban', TheAge, 18 March 1995,
5;'Protest as critics barred from China conference', TheAge, 30 March 1995, 6;Amnesty International, Report, above nl, 3.

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