Daily report for 29 August 1994
2nd Session of the 1995 WSSD Preparatory Committee
OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP
The Chair, Amb. Wlosowicz (Poland), outlined the important areas of consensus that were reached asa result of informal consultations last week. He first addressed Agenda Item 5, "Draft provisional rulesof procedure of the Summit" (A/CONF.166/ PC/L.6). Wlosowicz reported a general consensus on thenumber and distribution of Bureau seats. Delegates preferred a relatively small Bureau, including 27Vice-Presidents with the same geographic representation as the International Conference on Populationand Development: Africa (7); Asia (6); Western Europe and Others (6); Latin America and theCaribbean (5); and Eastern Europe (3).
Germany, on behalf of the EU, proposed amending Rule 1 so that it would read: "Thedelegation of each State and the European Community participating in the Summit..." -- as wasthe case in the Rules of Procedure for both the Rio and Cairo Conferences. The Chair noted that theseamendments, after consideration by the UN Legal Office, would be integrated into the text. A list ofthese revisions will be distributed on Tuesday.
Wlosowicz then turned to Agenda Item 3, "Status of the preparations for the Summit"(A/CONF.166/PC/15). The informal consultations led to a proposal for the Summit to take place in threestages:
- 6-8 March: Plenary exchange of views among governments, NGOs and intergovernmental agencies. The exact form (panels, hearings, etc.) remains to be determined by the Secretariat and the Bureau, but the idea is to allow opportunities for interaction.
- 9 March: A "Ministerial Meeting" to be addressed by delegations who are not represented by a Head of State or Government, as well as by executive representatives of UN agencies and programmes.
- 10-12 March: Meeting of Heads of State or Government comprised of: two sessions each day on Friday and Saturday, 10-11 March (with the possibility of an evening session on Friday) and a closing session and adoption of the Summit documents on Sunday, 12 March.
India noted that General Assembly Resolution 47/92, which establishes WSSD, calls for theSummit to be held in Copenhagen 11-12 March. He cautioned against making such a substantivemodification without obtaining the General Assembly's approval.
The Netherlands, supported by Australia, Antigua and Barbuda andBurkina Faso, suggested that the discussions between the Bureau and the Secretariat aboutthe structure of the first portion of the Summit give serious and special consideration to InternationalWomen's Day on 8 March. Antigua and Barbuda suggested the linkage of governmentalmeetings and NGO activities on International Women's Day.
In response to Australia's questions regarding schedule flexibility and the resolution ofoutstanding issues, the Chair underscored the possibility of extending the ministerial meeting toThursday evening, if necessary. He further noted that the Main Committee will discuss unresolvedissues during the first three days of the Summit.
The Chair closed by noting that a detailed outline of the above proposed amendments would beavailable Tuesday.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
The Chair, Amb. Richell (The Netherlands), opened the meeting and suggested that delegates progressfrom expressing their views to making concrete proposals on the text. He stated that the revised draftProgramme of Action (CRP.2) would be discussed paragraph-by-paragraph and that the target forcompletion is Wednesday afternoon. Night sessions may be necessary.
PARAGRAPH 1 (introduction of WSSD): Mexico suggested that the call forexamination of "human, economic and social concerns" be shortened to emphasize only socialconcerns. In response to proposals from Algeria and Australia, delegates agreedto the following language: "social and economic concerns that are common to humankind."Indonesia, supported by Norway, Mauritius and the UnitedStates, suggested that paragraphs 1 and 2, which refer to other conferences, would be betterplaced in the Declaration. Norway called for an introduction that outlined the content of theProgramme of Action. The United States commented on the difficulty of discussing paragraphswhose final placement is still under discussion. Switzerland called for changing "peoples ofthe UN" to "all participating nations," since Switzerland is not a UN member. The Chair bracketed thetext, and encouraged interested delegates to consult informally.
PARAGRAPH 2 (relationship of the WSSD with other global conferences): Severaldelegates suggested references to conferences not already mentioned in the text. In response to aproposal by the Chair, delegates agreed not to mention specific conferences but, rather, to refer toglobal conferences relevant to social development.
PARAGRAPH 3 (integration of social, economic, environmental and cultural concerns):India, supported by the G-77, proposed language stating that social developmentconcerns must be central to economic decision-making. India also suggested that the textshould call for economic policies to respond to social objectives, and that structural changes shouldcontribute to social development and to economic growth. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, andsupported by the EU and others, suggested additional references to the three core themes.The EU supported the first part of India's proposal but objected to the reference to structuraladjustment. Poland supported India and proposed the following language: "economic policiesshould respond to social objectives but necessary structural changes should not deter social progress."Norway called for economic growth to serve people. The US highlighted theinsufficient linkages between economic and social policy in the text. She suggested including"sustainable continuous development" in the last sentence. Canada called for reference tosustainable human development.
PARAGRAPH 4 (implementation of priorities in light of domestic circumstances):Germany, on behalf of the EU, suggested deletion of "bearing in mind the domestic circumstances"in the sentence that refers to concentration of efforts on enumerated priorities. Many developingcountries objected. The EU also suggested deleting the last sentence, which refers to the value ofinternational cooperation, and added: "all main actors, namely governments, regional and subregionalorganizations, the international community, the private sector including employers, workers... NGOs andother institutions of society are called upon to work together." Canada, supported by theUS, Sudan, and Malaysia, suggested reference to action-oriented goals.Poland, supported by the EU, suggested reference to the specific constraints thatresult from economic development in each country. The G-77 opposed Poland's proposal onthe grounds that it was not comprehensive.
PARAGRAPH 5 (challenges of globalization): Indonesia suggested that eachparagraph should contain a call for action. The United States further proposed that eachparagraph state: the rationale for action; the objectives for action; and the action required. TheUnited States also suggested combining paragraphs 5 and 6 and adding the following actions:responsible macro-economic programmes; policies that promote opportunities for all; and policies thatenhance good governance and participation. Colombia, India and Iran suggestedthat language in the G-77 text would improve this paragraph. Norway, supported bySweden, proposed adding a reference to the threats that processes of change and adjustmentcan pose to ecological systems.
The Chair then attempted to reconcile views on the structure of the paragraphs. He noted that theUnited States' proposal would require reconstructing text in addition to combining paragraphs.Pakistan stated that a revamping of the document could result in its disintegration, andsuggested that the present paragraph-by- paragraph method was useful. He also proposed adding atabular summary of each proposed action, its rationale, and the means for implementation.Canada inquired how comments on the structure of the draft could be made if the debate wasto continue on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. The Chair responded that the current debate shouldfocus on the substance of the Programme of Action, and he requested that amendments be submittedin writing. When the Chair indicated that the discussion would continue into the evening,Algeria requested adjourning the meeting because delegates would be more effective if theycould take stock of their progress and organize their work before continuing. Canada supportedAlgeria and requested that the Bureau consider the magnitude of the task that delegates face with thetext. Recognizing the delegates' preference to break for the evening, the Chair adjourned the Committeeof the Whole and opened a Plenary session to allow NGO interventions.
The Women's Caucus reiterated its position on the text. Regarding the changing globalsituation, she pointed to the devastating social consequences of the globalization of world markets andtrade liberalization. Regarding the favorable economic environment, she called for: a major redistributionof power and resources between nations and between all social sectors; corporate accountability;enforcement of human rights conventions; mechanisms to support the interests of the least developednations; social impact assessments; and socially responsible macro-economic policies. Regarding afavorable political environment, she called for: transparent, participatory and accountable national andinternational social policy structures; gender-based analyses of all institutions and policies; and astronger UN role in social development.
The Development Caucus also expressed its dissatisfaction with the revised text. He notedthe impacts of structural adjustment and trade liberalization and said that sustained economicdevelopment must be the primary goal of the WSSD. He further criticized the omissions of: the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights; the critiques of structural adjustment; the responsibility of institutions; andthe importance of social responsibility in the corporate sector.
IN THE CORRIDORS
The numerous amendments proposed to the first five paragraphs of the revised text reflectedoverwhelming dissatisfaction among governments. There was also discontent, discouragement anddespair among NGOs. Many NGOs felt that the revised text was a step in the wrong direction --backwards. Several felt that some of the strongest points in the first draft had been removed. Forexample, the new text does not refer to existing international instruments. Nor does it accurately reflectthe role of women or farmers in social development. Furthermore, it does not address the effects of theglobalization of world markets and trade liberalization. Both the Women's Caucus and the CanadianNGOs tabled detailed amendments to the revised text and expressed lingering hope that theseamendments would be taken seriously by governments.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE: The Committee of the Whole is expected to reconvene thismorning at 10:00 am in Conference Room 4. It is possible that the Chair, Amb. Richell (TheNetherlands), will announce a revised method of work, given the fact that the Committee was only ableto discuss five out of 195 paragraphs on Monday. An evening session is more than likely.
OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP: It is not certain if this Working Group will meet today. Lookfor an announcement in The Journal. The Chair, Amb. Wlosowicz (Poland), is continuing to holdconsultations on the organization of work for the Summit. There is still some disagreement on whetheror not to allow ministers to speak during the meeting of Heads of State or Government. Look for a newpaper containing the revisions to the Rules of Procedure.
US PRESENTATION: Timothy Wirth, US Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, will speakon "US Views on the World Summit for Social Development" today at noon in Conference Room 1.