ENB:06:38 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]


The Main Committee completed its work Monday night at 7:00 pm. After several failed attempts in the morning, the meeting got started at 3:00 pm. Then, moving at breakneck speed, back and forth from informal to formal meetings, the Main Committee succeeded in adopting ad referendum the entire Programme of Action.

VII. REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: In the morning, Vice Chair Nicolaas Biegman convened an informal session of the Main Committee to distribute the revised text of Chapter VII. He then adjourned the session for 20 minutes to give delegates time to review the text. Biegman informed delegates that the working group chaired by Hernando Clavijo (Colombia) had agreed on text with the exception of two sections in brackets. Since the working group was supposed to remove all brackets, he asked Clavijo to reconvene his group and reach consensus in an hour. This was not the case, and the working group continued to meet through the lunch break, while other delegates and observers waited in the corridors and Chefren Hall.

At 3:00 pm, Biegman reconvened the informal session of the Main Committee to address Chapter VII. Clavijo introduced oral amendments to the paragraphs that had been discussed during the morning's consultations.

In paragraphs 7.1 and 7.3(b), the phrase "methods of fertility regulation of their choice" was replaced by "methods of their choice for regulation of fertility." In paragraph 7.2, reference to "security of the person and physical integrity of the human body" was deleted and the sentence now reads: "It also includes the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents." In 7.15, the second sentence now reads: "To this end, Governments should secure conformity to human rights, and to ethical and professional standards in the delivery of family planning and related reproductive health services aimed at ensuring responsible, voluntary and informed consent, also regarding service provision."

In paragraph 7.32, the second sentence has been amended: "Equal relationships between men and women in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the physical integrity of the human body, require mutual respect and willingness to accept responsibility for the consequences of sexual behavior." In paragraph 7.45, the phrase "including contraceptive services" was deleted from the sentence on sexually active adolescents.

Before the informal meeting was adjourned, Ecuador said that without a clear definition of the right to life from the moment of conception, all other rights are meaningless. Pakistan said their concerns have been addressed in this text. Egypt asked for confirmation that the definitions in this chapter apply throughout the text. The Chair assured her that this was the case.

A few minutes later, Amb. Biegman convened a formal session, where Chapter VII was adopted ad referendum. Argentina, the Holy See, Malta and Nicaragua announced their intention to express reservations on various paragraphs in Plenary on Tuesday.

Jordan and Syria expressed concern about the use of the term "individuals" in paragraph 7.2. Jordan and Libya also said that they would interpret this paragraph in accordance with Islamic Law. Egypt noted that this chapter is guided by the principles in Chapter II, especially the chapeau. Although this chapter contains words and concepts that reveal certain tendencies in Western and Eastern cultures, Egypt's understanding of the text will be based on its own national, religious and cultural values. Sweden, on behalf of the Nordic States, said that although this text is not ideal, it was negotiated in good faith and the difficult and delicate compromise represents a good balance. The chapter, when implemented, will give men, women and children a strong instrument for leading a richer and healthier life.

XIII. NATIONAL ACTION: Dr. Fred Sai took over as Chair. Germany, on behalf of the EU, introduced the changes to Chapter XIII. An additional provision in paragraph 13.15 specifies that the costs mentioned here are "estimates prepared by experts, based on experience to date, of the four components referred to above. These estimates should be reviewed and updated on the basis of the comprehensive approach reflected in paragraph 13.14 of this Programme of Action, particularly with respect to the costs of implementing reproductive health service delivery."

After a few requests for clarification, the chapter was adopted ad referendum. The Holy See said that it could not join the agreement on sub-paragraph 13.14(c), which calls for "expanded condom distribution." Zimbabwe said that it could not endorse this sub-paragraph either, since expanded condom distribution seemed to call for the distribution of expanded -- and therefore used -- condoms. After the Chair regained his composure, he suggested an alternative: "expanded distribution of condoms."

X. INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION: Protracted discussions by more than 30 delegations in the working group chaired by Soliman Awaad (Egypt) agreed on new text for paragraph 10.12 on family reunification: "Consistent with Article 10 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and all other universally recognized human rights instruments, all Governments, particularly those of receiving countries, must recognize the vital importance of family reunification and promote its integration into their national legislation in order to ensure the protection of the unity of the families of documented migrants." Egypt said there was strong support in the working group for a global conference on international migration and development and that the report of the conference should note this support. Belize added the word "relevant" after "all other" and this was accepted.

II. PRINCIPLES: The changes to Chapter II were read out by the Secretary. Discussion ensued on the following principles.

Principle 5: At his own initiative, the Chair added language at the beginning of this principle similar to that found in the chapeau: Each nation has the right to develop and implement policies within the context of its national laws and in conformity with international human rights. Algeria protested and argued that in the course of the Friends of the Chair's negotiations, the participants had agreed that this language would be dropped. The EU responded that this language was slightly different from that found in the chapeau and should be retained. The Holy See agreed with the EU and said that they favored even stronger language to strengthen the concept of human rights. It was finally agreed to drop the first sentence and the paragraph now starts with "Population-related goals and policies...."

Principle 8: Iran said that the phrase "sexual and" should be deleted, based on what was agreed in Chapters VII and VIII. Sweden, supported by the EU, said their understanding was that the text would read: "States should take measures...including those related to reproductive healthcare, including family planning and sexual health. These programmes...." Iran and the US said that they had alternative language and it was agreed that the issue would be dealt with in a meeting to harmonize language that the Chair would convene at 6:00 pm.

Principle 11: The Chair took the initiative to delete the part of this paragraph that refers to the sale of organs, as there was nothing else in the Programme of Action on this matter and it is dealt with in other UN instruments. Cuba disagreed strongly and argued that the traffic in children's organs has increased, is terrible and repugnant, and leads to the murder of children. The Chair responded that he agreed with those points, but he had deleted the phrase for the sake of consistency in the document. The Chair agreed to restore the reference to traffic in children's organs.

I. PREAMBLE: The Secretary read out further revisions to the text that had been distributed last week. In paragraph 1.9 (resources), brackets were deleted and it now reads: "In order to do so, adequate mobilization of resources at the national and international level will be required, as well as new and additional resources to the developing countries from all available funding mechanisms, including multilateral, bilateral and private sources. Financial resources are also required to strengthen the capacity of national, regional, sub-regional and international institutions to implement this Programme of Action."

Algeria sought a clarification on paragraph 1.17 (implementation of policies), but the Chair said that this will be addressed when this chapter is harmonized with Chapter II. In paragraph 1.18 (objectives), the brackets were deleted and text now reads: "provision of universal access to reproductive health services, including family planning and sexual health."

V. THE FAMILY, ITS ROLES, RIGHTS, COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE: Amb. Lionel Hurst then took the Chair. The Secretary introduced the changes to Chapter V. In paragraph 5.1, the first sentence refers to the various "forms" of the family that exist in different social, cultural, legal and political systems. Paraguay said that this language should be harmonized with Principle 9 of Chapter II.

In paragraph 5.5, a new first sentence calls on Governments to take effective action to eliminate all forms of coercion and discrimination in policies and practices. In addition, the reference to practices related to "marriage, other unions and the family" was deleted. Nigeria said that the language should specify that these measures apply to the family members. The Chair agreed that the text is not perfect, but reflects a consensus, and he urged the delegate to withdraw his proposal.

XIV. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: The Secretary read out the agreed text for paragraph 14.3(f): "To ensure that all population and development programmes, with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of each country's people, adhere to basic human rights recognized by the international community and recalled in the present Programme of Action." Algeria pointed out that the word "ensure" should be replaced by "urge." The Secretariat confirmed Algeria's point. During the formal session later in the afternoon, India asked the Secretary to read out the changes to paragraph 14.17. The paragraph now reads: "Innovative financing, including new ways of generating public and private financing resources, including various forms of debt relief, should be explored."

XV. PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NON-GOVERN- MENTAL SECTOR: The Secretary announced that wording would be harmonized with Chapter II and that there were no other amendments.

The Main Committee then adopted all sixteen chapters of the Programme of Action ad referendum and transmitted them to the Plenary for final action. Without further ado, the Main Committee adjourned.

[Return to start of article]