ENCOURAGING WOMEN'S POLITICAL PARTICIPATION IN SAUDI ARABIA; Congressional Record Vol. 157, No. 116
(Senate - July 29, 2011)

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[Pages S5049-S5051]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




      ENCOURAGING WOMEN'S POLITICAL PARTICIPATION IN SAUDI ARABIA

  Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the Senate 
proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 114, S. Res. 216.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A resolution (S. Res. 216) encouraging women's political 
     participation in Saudi Arabia.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the 
resolution (S. Res. 216) encouraging women's political participation in 
Saudi Arabia, which had been reported from the Committee

[[Page S5050]]

on Foreign Relations, with an amendment and an amendment to the 
preamble.
  (Strike the parts in boldface brackets and insert the parts shown in 
italics.)

                              S. Res. 216

       [Whereas, on September 22, 2011, the Kingdom of Saudi 
     Arabia is scheduled to hold its first nationwide municipal 
     elections since 2005, with voter registration open as of 
     April 23, 2011;
       [Whereas the Government of Saudi Arabia has announced--as 
     it did in 2005--that women will be unable to run for elective 
     office or vote;
       [Whereas, on March 28, 2011, president of the general 
     committee for the election of municipal council members Abd 
     al-Rahman Dahmash stated, ``We are not prepared for the 
     participation of women in the municipal elections now.'';
       [Whereas Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Saud Al 
     Faisal stated in an interview after the 2005 election that he 
     assumed women would be allowed to vote in future elections, 
     and that this would benefit the election process because 
     women were ``more sensible voters than men'';
       [Whereas the decision by the Government of Saudi Arabia to 
     continue to disenfranchise women in the September 2011 
     municipal elections is inconsistent with a series of 
     commitments made by the Government of Saudi Arabia;
       [Whereas, in January 2003, Saudi Arabia proposed to the 
     League of Arab States the ``Covenant for Arab Reform,'' 
     resulting in the adoption of the ``Tunis Declaration'' at the 
     May 2004 Arab Summit, which declared, among other things, a 
     ``firm determination'' to ``pursue reform and modernization'' 
     by ``widening women's participation in the political, 
     economic, social, cultural and educational fields'';
       [Whereas these declarations were reaffirmed at the Arab 
     Summit in Algiers on March 23, 2005, and at the Riyadh Summit 
     held in Saudi Arabia on March 28, 2007;
       [Whereas, in April 2009, Saudi Arabia ratified the Arab 
     Charter on Human Rights, which states in article 24(3), 
     ``Every citizen has the right . . . to stand for election or 
     choose his representatives in free and impartial elections, 
     in conditions of equality among all citizens that guarantee 
     the free expression of his will.'';
       [Whereas, on June 10, 2009, the Government of Saudi Arabia 
     accepted the majority of the recommendations put forward by 
     the United Nations Human Rights Council's Working Group on 
     the Universal Periodic Review including to ``[a]bolish all 
     legislation, measures and practices that discriminate against 
     women . . . In particular, to abolish legislation and 
     practices which prevent women from participating fully in 
     society on an equal basis with men,'' and to ``end the strict 
     system of male guardianship and give full legal identity to 
     Saudi women'';
       [Whereas the Government of Saudi Arabia has indicated that 
     it is supportive of the human rights of women;
       [Whereas, in November 2010, Saudi Arabia was elected to the 
     Executive Board of UN Women, emphasizing the commitment of 
     the Government of Saudi Arabia to the rights of women;
       [Whereas `Abd al-Rahman Dahmash, the president of the 
     general committee for the election of municipal council 
     members, has stated that Saudi women will be granted the 
     right to vote in the next municipal elections scheduled to be 
     held in 2015; and
       [Whereas, while the United States Government acknowledges 
     the deep cultural and religious traditions and sentiments 
     within Saudi society, without the right to vote on par with 
     men, women in Saudi Arabia are denied not only a fundamental 
     human right but also the ability to contribute fully to the 
     economic development, modernization, and prosperity of their 
     own country: Now, therefore, be it]
       Whereas, on September 29, 2011, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 
     is scheduled to hold its first nationwide municipal elections 
     since 2005;
       Whereas the Government of Saudi Arabia has announced--as it 
     did in 2005--that women will be unable to run for elective 
     office or vote;
       Whereas, on March 28, 2011, president of the general 
     committee for the election of municipal council members `Abd 
     al-Rahman Dahmash stated, ``We are not prepared for the 
     participation of women in the municipal elections now.'';
       Whereas the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud 
     Al Faisal, stated in an interview after the 2005 election 
     that he assumed women would be allowed to vote in future 
     elections, and that this would benefit the election process 
     because women were ``more sensible voters than men'';
       Whereas, on June 6, 2011, the Majlis Al-Shura Consultative 
     Council adopted a resolution recommending that the Kingdom of 
     Saudi Arabia Ministry of Rural and Municipal Affairs take the 
     necessary measures to include female voters in future 
     municipal elections;
       Whereas the decision by the Government of Saudi Arabia to 
     continue to disenfranchise women in the September 2011 
     municipal elections is inconsistent with a series of 
     commitments made by the Government of Saudi Arabia;
       Whereas, in January 2003, Saudi Arabia proposed to the 
     League of Arab States the ``Covenant for Arab Reform,'' 
     resulting in the adoption of the ``Tunis Declaration'' at the 
     May 2004 Arab Summit, which declared, among other things, a 
     ``firm determination'' to ``pursue reform and modernization'' 
     by ``widening women's participation in the political, 
     economic, social, cultural and educational fields'';
       Whereas these declarations were reaffirmed at the Arab 
     Summit in Algiers on March 23, 2005, and at the Riyadh Summit 
     held in Saudi Arabia on March 28, 2007;
       Whereas, in April 2009, Saudi Arabia ratified the Arab 
     Charter on Human Rights, which states in article 24(3), 
     ``Every citizen has the right. . . to stand for election or 
     choose his representatives in free and impartial elections, 
     in conditions of equality among all citizens that guarantee 
     the free expression of his will.'';
       Whereas, on June 10, 2009, the Government of Saudi Arabia 
     accepted the majority of the recommendations put forward by 
     the United Nations Human Rights Council's Working Group on 
     the Universal Periodic Review including to ``[a]bolish all 
     legislation, measures and practices that discriminate against 
     women. . . In particular, to abolish legislation and 
     practices which prevent women from participating fully in 
     society on an equal basis with men,'' and to ``end the strict 
     system of male guardianship and give full legal identity to 
     Saudi women'';
       Whereas the Government of Saudi Arabia has indicated that 
     it is supportive of the human rights of women;
       Whereas, in November 2010, Saudi Arabia was elected to the 
     Executive Board of UN Women, emphasizing the commitment of 
     the Government of Saudi Arabia to the rights of women;
       Whereas `Abd al-Rahman Dahmash, the president of the 
     general committee for the election of municipal council 
     members, has stated that Saudi women will be granted the 
     right to vote in the next municipal elections scheduled to be 
     held in 2015; and
       Whereas, while the United States Government acknowledges 
     the deep cultural and religious traditions and sentiments 
     within Saudi society, without the right to vote on par with 
     men, women in Saudi Arabia are denied not only a fundamental 
     human right but also the ability to contribute fully to the 
     economic development, modernization, and prosperity of their 
     own country: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved, [That the Senate--
       [(1) calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to allow women 
     to participate, both as voters and candidates for elective 
     office, in the September 2011 elections;
       [(2) supports the women of Saudi Arabia as they endeavor to 
     exercise their human rights; and
       [(3) believes that it is in the interest of Saudi Arabia 
     and all nations to permit women to run for office and vote in 
     all elections.]
       That the Senate--
       (1) urges the Government of Saudi Arabia to allow women to 
     fully participate, both as voters and candidates for elective 
     office, in the September 2011 elections;
       (2) supports the women of Saudi Arabia as they endeavor to 
     exercise their human rights and participate equally in 
     society; and
       (3) believes that it is in the interest of Saudi Arabia and 
     all nations to permit women to run for office, receive civic 
     education, and vote in all elections.

  Mr. BROWN of Ohio. I ask unanimous consent the committee-reported 
substitute amendment be agreed to; the resolution, as amended, be 
agreed to; the committee-reported amendment to the preamble be agreed 
to; the preamble, as amended, be agreed to; the motions to reconsider 
be laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate and any 
statements be printed in the Record.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment in the nature of a substitute was agreed to.
  The resolution (S. Res. 216), as amended, was agreed to.
  The amendment to the preamble was agreed to.
  The preamble, as amended, was agreed to.
  The resolution, as amended, with its preamble, as amended, reads as 
follows:

                              S. Res. 216

       Whereas, on September 29, 2011, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 
     is scheduled to hold its first nationwide municipal elections 
     since 2005;
       Whereas the Government of Saudi Arabia has announced--as it 
     did in 2005--that women will be unable to run for elective 
     office or vote;
       Whereas, on March 28, 2011, president of the general 
     committee for the election of municipal council members `Abd 
     al-Rahman Dahmash stated, ``We are not prepared for the 
     participation of women in the municipal elections now.'';
       Whereas the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud 
     Al Faisal, stated in an interview after the 2005 election 
     that he assumed women would be allowed to vote in future 
     elections, and that this would benefit the election process 
     because women were ``more sensible voters than men'';
       Whereas, on June 6, 2011, the Majlis Al-Shura Consultative 
     Council adopted a resolution recommending that the Kingdom of 
     Saudi Arabia Ministry of Rural and Municipal Affairs take the 
     necessary measures to include female voters in future 
     municipal elections;
       Whereas the decision by the Government of Saudi Arabia to 
     continue to disenfranchise women in the September 2011 
     municipal elections is inconsistent with a series of 
     commitments made by the Government of Saudi Arabia;
       Whereas, in January 2003, Saudi Arabia proposed to the 
     League of Arab States the

[[Page S5051]]

     ``Covenant for Arab Reform,'' resulting in the adoption of 
     the ``Tunis Declaration'' at the May 2004 Arab Summit, which 
     declared, among other things, a ``firm determination'' to 
     ``pursue reform and modernization'' by ``widening women's 
     participation in the political, economic, social, cultural 
     and educational fields'';
       Whereas these declarations were reaffirmed at the Arab 
     Summit in Algiers on March 23, 2005, and at the Riyadh Summit 
     held in Saudi Arabia on March 28, 2007;
       Whereas, in April 2009, Saudi Arabia ratified the Arab 
     Charter on Human Rights, which states in article 24(3), 
     ``Every citizen has the right . . . to stand for election or 
     choose his representatives in free and impartial elections, 
     in conditions of equality among all citizens that guarantee 
     the free expression of his will.'';
       Whereas, on June 10, 2009, the Government of Saudi Arabia 
     accepted the majority of the recommendations put forward by 
     the United Nations Human Rights Council's Working Group on 
     the Universal Periodic Review including to ``[a]bolish all 
     legislation, measures and practices that discriminate against 
     women . . . In particular, to abolish legislation and 
     practices which prevent women from participating fully in 
     society on an equal basis with men,'' and to ``end the strict 
     system of male guardianship and give full legal identity to 
     Saudi women'';
       Whereas the Government of Saudi Arabia has indicated that 
     it is supportive of the human rights of women;
       Whereas, in November 2010, Saudi Arabia was elected to the 
     Executive Board of UN Women, emphasizing the commitment of 
     the Government of Saudi Arabia to the rights of women;
       Whereas `Abd al-Rahman Dahmash, the president of the 
     general committee for the election of municipal council 
     members, has stated that Saudi women will be granted the 
     right to vote in the next municipal elections scheduled to be 
     held in 2015; and
       Whereas while the United States Government acknowledges the 
     deep cultural and religious traditions and sentiments within 
     Saudi society, without the right to vote on par with men, 
     women in Saudi Arabia are denied not only a fundamental human 
     right but also the ability to contribute fully to the 
     economic development, modernization, and prosperity of their 
     own country: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) urges the Government of Saudi Arabia to allow women to 
     fully participate, both as voters and candidates for elective 
     office, in the September 2011 elections;
       (2) supports the women of Saudi Arabia as they endeavor to 
     exercise their human rights and participate equally in 
     society; and
       (3) believes that it is in the interest of Saudi Arabia and 
     all nations to permit women to run for office, receive civic 
     education, and vote in all elections.

                          ____________________