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Patricia Licuanan (Philippines), Chair of the Main Committee, opened the meeting and updated delegates on work that has been done since the PrepCom during the 39th session of the CSW. ECOSOC authorized a week of informal consultations, which were held from 31 July to 4 August in New York. The results of the informal consultations are contained in A/CONF.177/L.3, and represent a one-third reduction in bracketed text to be discussed here.

Delegates then elected the Bureau. The three Vice-Chairs are Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl (Austria), Zelmira Regazolli (Argentina) and Natallya Drozd (Belarus). The Rapporteur is Selma Ashipala (Namibia).

The Chair then presented the report of the Contact Group on the definition of gender (A/CONF.177/L.2) for adoption. Guatemala stated that she had not agreed with the "non-definition" reached by the Contact Group, and proposed defining gender as referring to male and female as the two sexes of the human being. Malta noted that the issue had been resolved in the Contact Group. The Chair accepted Malta's intervention as the opinion of the group, and closed discussion on the definition. The Holy See accepted the Chair's ruling, but noted that reservations could be stated at the end of the Conference. Benin agreed.

The Main Committee then considered the report on the informal consultations (A/CONF.177/L.3). A number of delegations questioned discrepancies between their consultation notes and the official record. The Secretariat suggested that corrections to such texts be considered in the working groups. The document was adopted subject to technical corrections.

The Committee adopted Item 6 of the provisional agenda, Organization of Work, including the Establishment of the Main Committee (A/CONF.177/3). The Chair invited Nana Ama Yeboa (Ghana) to chair Working Group I, and Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl (Austria) to chair Working Group II. The results of working group deliberations will be issued in a non-paper, in English, for adoption by the Main Committee. Ground rules for negotiation are: avoid position statements and concentrate on resolution of brackets; avoid re-opening agreed text; working group non-papers will be subject to technical corrections only; use agreed language from other UN conferences; and no new issues are to be introduced. Delegations raised questions about document translation facilities and which other UN conference documents are to inform Platform text. The Chair stated that the working groups should decide from which UN documents to draw agreed language.

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