Daily report for 26 June 2000

24th Special Session of the UN General Assembly (WSSD+5)

On Monday, 26 June, the GA convened at the UN office in Geneva and opened its 24th Special Session, entitled "World Summit for Social Development and beyond: Achieving social development for all in a globalizing world." The Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole (COW) met in the morning and afternoon. Working Group II met in the morning and afternoon to discuss Commitment 4, on social integration. Working Group I met in the afternoon and evening to debate Commitment 1, on enabling social development. Contact groups on debt and on globalization and labor met in the afternoon.


Prior to the formal opening of the Plenary, Prime Minister Paul Nyrup Rasmussen (Denmark) and President Adolf Ogi (Switzerland) offered remarks. Prime Minister Nyrup called on rich countries to ease the debt burdens of poor countries and provide ODA to ensure access to healthcare and education for all. President Ogi stressed empowering citizens to participate in shaping the global economy. At 11:15 am, the Chair of the Special Session, Prime Minister Hage Geignob (Namibia), opened the session, and noted a letter from the Secretary-General (A/S-24/6) listing delegations with UN arrears. Special Session President Theo-Ben Gurirab (Namibia) welcomed delegates and pointed out that globalization should have a head, heart and human face. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized that social and economic welfare are not inseparable concepts, and highlighted the release of a joint UN, World Bank, IMF and OECD report.

PrepCom Chair Cristian Maquieira (Chile) presented the report of the PrepCom (A/S-24/2 and Add. 1 and 2 (Parts I, II and III)), which delegates adopted along with the organization of the session (A/S-24/2, paragraph 42). Chair Gurirab noted that a list of NGOs to address the Plenary will be presented for the GA's approval. Following adoption of the provisional agenda (A/S-24/1), delegates heard opening statements on the review and appraisal of progress since the WSSD and on proposals for further initiatives for the full implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and POA. Speakers included six Heads of Government, four Heads of State, one Crown Prince, five Vice Presidents, two Deputy Prime Ministers and 10 Ministers. Plenary statements can be found on the Internet at: http://www.unog.ch/ga2000/socialsummit/speeches/ speeches.htm.


Chair Maquieira opened the Ad Hoc COW, and gave the floor to Nitin Desai, Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, who noted that: poverty eradication has gained acceptance as a central theme of social development; rules for managing globalization must reflect a better approach to social cohesion; and development agendas should foster a rights-based approach.

The COW elected three Vice-Chairs: Amb. Bagher Asadi (Iran), Amb. Ion Gorita (Romania) and Amb. Koos Richelle (Netherlands). Chair Maquieira announced that a fourth candidate, Abdallah Baali (Algeria), was unable to attend the meeting and would be replaced by another delegate. He noted three facilitators would assist the meeting: Aurelio Fernández (Spain), Sonia Felicity Elliott (Guyana), and Luis Fernándo Carranza-Cifuentes (Guatemala). Following adoption of the proposed organization of work (A/S-24/AC.1/L.1), delegates heard proposals for further initiatives for social development from UN agencies and NGOs.


COMMITMENT 1: ENABLING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: In 1 bis, on designing and implementing development policies, delegates agreed to place "social" before references to economic and political life. The EU, with JAPAN, proposed replacing G-77/China language on religious and ethical values with text on tolerance and respect for cultural and ethnic diversity. The G-77/CHINA suggested language on tolerance and respect for cultural and religious values and ethnic diversity. CANADA, with the US, preferred to omit reference to religious values. These proposals remain bracketed.

In paragraph 2, delegates accepted most of a US proposal referring to democratic, effective, transparent and accountable national and local governance that enables people to take an active part in decision-making about priorities, policies and strategies. The G-77/CHINA preferred reference to institutions instead of governance. The US, JAPAN and CANADA supported governance. The reference remains bracketed. In paragraph 3, delegates agreed to drop references to "social" and to "public goods" because the purpose of the language could not be clarified. The EU supported a G-77/China proposal to delete paragraph 4, on reinforcing, inter alia, peace and human rights. Delegates agreed. There was no consensus on a reference to institutions in paragraph 5, on the realization of rights in relevant international instruments. The G-77/ CHINA specified "national" institutions.

In paragraph 7, the US accepted text recommending that ECOSOC establish an expert working group to develop guidelines on sound principles and good practices in social policy, and supported language on poverty eradication, full employment and social integration. The G-77/CHINA called for, and the EU and CANADA opposed, deletion of the paragraph. The G-77/CHINA, with CUBA, EGYPT, CHINA and LIBYA, emphasized the absence of international consensus on the concept of sound principles and good practices. EGYPT proposed addressing the issue in an intergovernmental forum. SUDAN underscored implementation of agreed principles over production of new ones. Chair Maquieira deferred discussion.

In 8(b), on capacity building, delegates adopted EU language on "adequate financial assistance." In 8(c), on tariffs, Japan's proposed UNCTAD X language. The US agreed, but the G-77/ CHINA requested time to consult. In paragraph 9, on unilateral measures, the US, EU, POLAND and AUSTRALIA agreed with the Chair's proposal to use Beijing+5 text, but the G-77/CHINA preferred additional negotiations with a facilitator because the contexts differ. The issue was left pending. In 10(a), on the volatility of capital flows, there was no consensus on references to stand-still arrangements and transparency.

In 10(c) bis, delegates agreed on a reference to preventive measures to protect basic social services when dealing with international financial crises. Sub-paragraph 10(d), on strengthening economic policy formulation, was adopted after the HOLY SEE, the G-77/CHINA and the EU withdrew their proposals. In paragraph 13, on transparency in decision-making, delegates differed over forwarding the text to a contact group. The US stated it would not accept a reference to democratization of IFIs.


COMMITMENT 4: SOCIAL INTEGRATION: Delegates deferred discussion of paragraph 62, on support for refugees, pending a G-77/CHINA position. In paragraph 63, on protecting migrants, no consensus was reached on a reference to consular assistance, and it remains bracketed. In 65 bis, delegates accepted: the Chair's language on stable, supportive and nurturing family relationships, supported by communities and professional services; and Pakistan's specification of professional services "where available." They also accepted US text on tobacco consumption, including placement as new 65 ter.

In CANADA-proposed 66 bis, on comprehensively addressing causes of armed conflict to enhance civilian protection on a long-term basis, ETHIOPIA, with BURKINA FASO, advocated protection of "civilian populations." The US proposed deleting "on a long-term basis." PAKISTAN and NAMIBIA preferred reference to prevention of armed conflict by addressing its causes, and, with others, proposed deleting text enumerating measures for addressing causes. INDIA, CYPRUS, CANADA and others opposed deletion. Regarding such measures, EGYPT, supported by SAUDI ARABIA, ETHIOPIA, the PHILIPPINES and others, advocated substituting transparent and accountable governance for good governance. AUSTRALIA opposed. SAUDI ARABIA suggested deleting sustainable development. CUBA, supported by INDIA, the PHILIPPINES, PAKISTAN, TUNISIA and INDONESIA specified protection of "all" human rights and added the right to development. The US proposed specifying "broad-based" economic growth. The HOLY SEE advocated adding reduction in the trade of arms. Suggesting 66 bis is addressed in other paragraphs, the EU advocated deletion. AZERBAIJAN called for a reference to respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. The paragraph remains bracketed, and CANADA has agreed to hold informal discussions.

In paragraph 67, on strengthening UN capability in promoting social integration in post-conflict management, the EU agreed to delete a reference to the capability of "other international organizations." Delegates agreed to promote measures "for" social integration. On greater attention to specific categories of children, delegates debated references to, inter alia, abandoned children. Numerous delegations proposed formulas focusing on children in general rather than specific categories. The US advocated referring to children, especially those separated from their families. SUDAN suggested children affected by armed conflict. The EU, supported by others, advocated UNHCR language referring to children, including, inter alia, unaccompanied refugee minors. The text remains bracketed.

Several delegations voiced strong opposition to a proposal by the EU and the US, supported by AUSTRALIA and ARMENIA, to delete paragraph 69, on taking measures to end foreign occupation. The US reiterated deletion and observed that the issue is addressed in the draft political declaration as agreed 7 bis. The EU added that the issue was addressed in paragraph 18. LYBIA stressed these references are distinct. ETHIOPIA proposed adding reference to ending aggression. AZERBAIJAN advocated adding a reference to the withdrawal of foreign troops. LIBYA suggested elaborating the impacts of foreign occupation. The text remains bracketed.


DEBT: The group requested Chair Sonia Felicity Elliott to prepare two sub-paragraphs, one emphasizing the general debt issue of developing countries, and the other focusing on the enhanced HIPC initiative. These would replace 5 bis and 15 with agreed text from Beijing +5 (sub-paragraph 135(i)) and become the basis for further negotiations. In 105(g), on structural adjustment and debt, delegates disagreed on different text formulations. Some supported including types of debt-relief per an earlier G-77/China proposal. Others objected to references besides HIPC. No consensus was reached. The group agreed to have paragraphs 87 and 95, on Africa and the LDCs, negotiated in Working Group I. Some delegates thought paragraph 10(a), on capital flows, should not be discussed in this contact group.

GLOBALIZATION AND LABOR: Under Chair Aurelio Fernández, the group discussed paragraph 39, with some delegates opposing reference to a multilateral initiative to better understand the social dimensions of globalization. One delegate suggested replacing "initiative" with "cooperation." Others said they would be willing to consider new proposals. A few supported recognition of intersections between trade, development, poverty and labor by the ILO and other organizations. Similar divisions persisted during discussion of 39 ter, on cooperation among the ILO, the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) and governments to promote and recognize fundamental rights at work. Some countries disagreed with the implied message of conditionalities for funding. One delegate proposed new text emphasizing support or assistance by BWIs. Another preferred omitting reference to other international institutions and specifying "in this context, with assistance from the ILO."A few expressed support for Mexico's previous proposal on full employment. Both paragraphs remain bracketed.


While negotiations rolled out smoothly, albeit at a leisurely early-in-the-week pace, a political bomb dropped with the release of a UN/World Bank/IMF/OECD report called A Better World for All. Delegates struggling to negotiate consensus on the complex tangle of concepts that add up to globalization can discover here that if developing countries would open their mar kets and improve their poor policies, globalization will offer "enormous opportunities." As scandalized rumors about the report spread in the hallways, representatives of all four institutions convened a special afternoon session, only to shrink before a full onslaught of criticism from NGOs. They called the report a "farce," and said it makes false claims about WSSD commitments and contravenes the UN Charter. Some wanted to know how Kofi Annan's signature, in particular, came to be on such a document. Backpedaling furiously, one defendant said the report was in simple language because it was meant for schoolchildren. Try that on in the outcome document…


PLENARY: The Plenary will meet at 10:00 am in the Assembly Hall to hear high-level government representatives.

WORKING GROUPS: Working Group I will meet at 4:00 pm in Room XVII to debate Commitments 1 and 7-9. Additional sessions may be announced. Working Group II will meet at 10:00 am, 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm in Room XVIII to discuss Commitments 2-6 and 10. Working Group III will meet at 10:00 am in Room XXVI to negotiate the draft political declaration.

CONTACT GROUPS: The contact group on debt will meet at 2:00 pm in Room XXVII to continue consideration of paragraphs 105, 112 and 10(a). The contact group on globalization and labor will meet at 2:00 pm in a room to be announced.

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