ENB:06:28 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]


Amidst procedural wrangling and time-consuming arguments on the contentious issues that have plagued the PrepCom, the Plenary began its final consideration of the draft Programme of Action. ICPD Secretary-General Nafis Sadik gave a brief statement citing the central challenges: integrating population concerns within development strategies; acknowledging the centrality of human beings, while recognizing the importance of family and society; and recognizing and advancing the rights of women. PrepCom Chair Fred Sai expressed his hope that delegates will address the remaining difficult issues, while taking into consideration today's realities.


The Holy See called for brackets around "sexual and reproductive health" throughout the text. The Chair said that this phrase would be held in abeyance. In 15.9 (resources for NGOs), "independence" and "integrity" were bracketed when referring to NGOs. Delegates agreed to the EU proposal to refer to "full autonomy" instead. In 15.14(b) (objective) and 15.15 (role of the private sector), the Holy See, Guatemala and Honduras wanted to eliminate the word "contraceptive" since contraceptives are included in "family planning commodities." The Chair responded that "contraceptive" is a technical medical term used everywhere. India, Canada, Bangladesh and Indonesia requested retention of the term. The Chair ruled that "contraceptives" will remain in the text, noting these reservations. Benin proposed replacing "partnership" with "cooperation" between governments and NGOs in 15.1 (basis for action). Working Group I Chair Lionel Hurst reminded delegates about the agreement to retain "partnership." Benin insisted on bracketing "partnership." The Chair noted that Chapter 27 of Agenda 21 refers to NGOs as partners and urged Benin to reconsider. After a long procedural debate, both "partnership" and "cooperation" were bracketed.


Hurst introduced the text, noting that Section C will be included later. The EU reminded the Chair of its giant brackets around Section C. In 13.8(a) (objectives), Brazil said that "adolescents" should be mentioned. In 13.1 (basis for action), Sweden said that gender equity and equality should be mentioned. Canada preferred equality. Agreement was reached to include both terms. Once again the issue of family planning was raised. The Holy See and Guatemala said that family planning must remain in brackets until agreement is reached on a clear division between family planning and abortion.


The Holy See announced that it had no problem with the term "contraceptive" in 4.4(f) (discriminatory practice against women). However, it insisted on retaining brackets around family planning in 4.23 (equal participation of women and men) and 4.24 (men's shared responsibility). Benin and India pointed out that the second sentence of 4.19 bis on sex selection through in-vitro fertilization is contradictory to language on preventing sex selection practices. The sentence was deleted from the paragraph. On the issue of gender equity and equality, Canada advocated using only equality. Norway suggested that it would be better to use both terms in 4.3, but only equity in 4.21. Canada agreed to accept the Norwegian proposal. In 4.15, the EU requested that the brackets around the target date for universal primary education remain, pending the discussion of goals.


The Chair of Working Group II, Nicolaas Biegman, said that the only brackets are around "reproductive." He added that a possible problem with the definition of the "family" was resolved since the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the International Year of the Family last October. However, there was a misunderstanding of the definition used in the first sentence of 5.1 (basis for action). Some delegates assumed agreement was reached on "the family," rather than "families," which appeared in the text. Malta, Ecuador, Morocco, Mauritius, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua supported use of the singular form. The EU, Canada and the US supported the plural form.

[Return to start of article]