Report of main proceedings for 4 April 2000
Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 24th Special Session of the General Assembly (WSSD+5)
In the morning, Plenary met briefly to adopt documents on NGO accreditation and organizational arrangements for the Special Session. Working Group I discussed Commitment 1 on an enabling environment for social development. The debate focused on whether to reiterate or go beyond the spirit of Copenhagen, and on differing perspectives on the integration of social, economic and environmental elements. Working Group III met in the morning and afternoon to hear proposals on the second half of the draft political declaration, before beginning debate on paragraphs 1-4. Key issues included international cooperation, national responsibilities and globalization. In the afternoon, Working Group II met to debate Commitments 2, on eradicating poverty, and 3, on full employment, with discussion on adherence to language in the Copenhagen Declaration.
Plenary adopted two documents: Participation of non-governmental organizations (A/AC.253/26), which addresses accreditation of NGOs to the PrepCom, and Organizational arrangements for the 24th Special Session of the GA (A/AC.253/L.15). In reference to preparation of documents for the Special Session, SYRIA stressed having relevant documents translated into the six UN languages. Chair Maquieira noted that on Wednesday 17 May, at 3:00pm, there would a drawing of lots for the list of speakers at the Special Session.
WORKING GROUP I
COMMITMENT 1: ENABLING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: On paragraph 5, implementing human rights, the G-77/CHINA and the HOLY SEE proposed text to strengthen national institutions and encourage universal ratification and implementation of relevant instruments, including the Declaration on the Right to Development. Responding to objections from JAPAN, the US and the EU, the G-77/ CHINA referred to text in the Copenhagen Declaration on these agreements. The EU preferred text on promoting implementation and ratification of all human rights instruments and strengthening institutions. The group tentatively agreed to use the Declaration's language.
The US, supported by CANADA and the G-77/CHINA, objected to NORWAY's proposal for 5bis, on the role of the international community in alleviating debt burdens and strengthening efforts to realize economic, social and cultural rights. She said such text went beyond the initiative on highly indebted poor countries.
In paragraph 6, on coherence between social and economic policies, the G-77/CHINA and TURKEY disagreed with a US proposal to omit references to trade and investment. The US, supported by the EU, suggested adding a reference to environmental protection, as stated in the Copenhagen Declaration. The group then debated whether the text should integrate elements, and refer to people-centered, economic or sustainable development. This discussion continued around similar references in paragraphs 6(a) and (b), on policy formulation and impact and multilateral assistance. The US expressed concern that the negotiations were moving away from the integrated approach of the POA. The G-77/CHINA responded that the section was meant to address only social and economic issues. The text remains bracketed.
The group agreed on 6(c), on monitoring the social impact of economic policies. Delegates debated 6(d), on definitions of productivity and efficiency that measure the effectiveness of employment of labor and show the cost of unemployment and poverty. NEW ZEALAND, supported by CANADA, the US and the EU, suggested a formulation linking recognition of unemployment and poverty costs to developing new guidelines. CANADA proposed a reference to measures, after the G-77/CHINA requested maintaining the reference to guidelines to include the private sector. The text remains bracketed.
On paragraph 7, the US proposed that ECOSOC establish a working group on principles and good practices for social policy and WSSD implementation, and disagreed with the G-77/CHINA's language on equity and social inclusion in a reference to the WSSD goals.
The EU, with the US, supported deleting paragraph 8's chapeau, on strengthening developing countries' capacities to address obstacles to participation in the globalizing economy. The EU also proposed deleting sub-paragraphs on, inter alia, financial resources, technology transfer, and the reduction of protectionist and non-tariff trade barriers. The text remains bracketed.
WORKING GROUP II
COMMITMENT 2: POVERTY AND EMPLOYMENT: For paragraph 28's chapeau, relating poverty eradication to improving social protection systems, the US suggested calling upon governments to improve notions of domestic or intranational systems. TURKEY supported HOLY SEE text on national protection systems, including social safety nets. On sub-paragraph 28(a), relating to ways to extend coverage to vulnerable and unprotected people in country-specific contexts, the G-77/CHINA proposed, and the US opposed, amendments to include uninsured people and resource reallocation. The G-77/CHINA disagreed with an EU proposal to replace 28(a) and (b), on ways to extend social protection system coverage and overcome social exclusion, with 27bis(v), which invites the International Labor Organization (ILO ) and others to extend social protection systems to the unprotected. The group agreed to consider these proposals. The G-77/ CHINA disagreed with an EU suggestion to transfer 27bis(w), on promoting pensions schemes, preferring broader 38(b) text on developing new mechanisms for sustaining social protection systems. The Secretariat is to compile related substantive proposals. For paragraph 28(c) on reforming modalities targeting flexibly employed people, the US, opposed by the EU and the G-77/CHINA, suggested devising and strengthening such coverage without including seasonal and temporary workers.
In paragraph 29, delegates agreed on existing text on expanding agricultural assistance and rural self-employment. In paragraph 30, the G-77/CHINA and others agreed with a US proposal to encourage governments to re-evaluate national fiscal policies to reduce income inequalities and promote social equity. In paragraph 31, several proposals were merged to produce agreed text on institutional mechanisms ensuring a multi-sectoral approach to poverty eradication. Delegates disagreed on a reference to government ministries, departments or agencies, and this text remains bracketed. The G-77/CHINA agreed to delete a reference to national strategy frameworks in paragraph 32, on enhancing the capacity of local governments to address poverty. There was consensus on paragraph 33, on international support to countries in transition. The US and the EU expressed reservations about Mexico's proposal for 33bis, on the role of international financial institutions in responding to challenges posed by international financial markets. The text remains bracketed.
COMMITMENT 3: EMPLOYMENT: The group started negotiating Commitment 3 by discussing a G-77/CHINA proposal for the chapeau. Delegates agreed on full employment as a basic priority of economic and social policies, but diverged on EU and US proposals on further promoting initiatives to achieve this goal. A debate ensued on how closely the Commitments' chapeau paragraphs should follow POA text, and whether a reference to further implementation at the beginning of the outcomes document covered each chapeau. Chair Richelle referred this issue to the Bureau.
Brackets remain on paragraphs 35-37. On paragraph 35, the EU preferred strengthening social dialogue for industrial relations, while JAPAN and NEW ZEALAND preferred strengthening tripartite frameworks, and the G-77/CHINA suggested text on employers' and workers' organizations. For paragraph 36, on expanding opportunities for productive employment, the G-77/CHINA preferred insertions regarding small rural enterprises and human resource development, disagreeing with EU and US proposals to refer only to technical cooperation and assistance within multilateral frameworks. In paragraph 37, the G-77/CHINA proposed language supporting the ILO's comprehensive programme on decent work and the World Employment Forum. CANADA, SWITZERLAND and the US suggested creating a sub-paragraph to support the ILO "concept" of decent work, including the environment. The US, supported by the EU, proposed additional language on an international strategy on employment.
WORKING GROUP III
Working Group III continued presenting proposals on the draft political declaration. On paragraph 6, the EU proposed references to: primary government responsibility for social development; national and international levels implementation; and inclusion of environmental policies. The G-77/CHINA said that social development cannot be achieved without international commitment, and called for reaffirming the ODA target of 0.7% of GNP. The US proposed deleting text on multilateral organizations. NORWAY proposed including gender mainstreaming. The EU called for reference to Africa and the least developed countries.
On paragraph 7, the G-77/CHINA proposed language on equal opportunities for active participation and sharing benefits of development. The EU supported: partnership with civil society and poor people; basic education and social services; opportunities for skills acquisition; and primary responsibility of governments. On paragraph 8, the G-77/CHINA proposed text on reinforcing solidarity with people living in poverty and reference to the vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized. The EU added a reference to children and groups with special needs, and proposed deleting text on maintaining, strengthening and extending social solidarity.
On paragraph 9, on addressing international cooperation, the G-77/ CHINA emphasized globalization, reform of relevant international institutions, and cooperation that ensures equitable benefit sharing. The EU, supported by the US, preferred language on international cooperation for POA implementation.
On paragraph 10, the EU proposed reference to social development as essential for conflict prevention and peace. JAPAN opposed, suggesting reference to social development for all in a globalizing world. The G-77/CHINA, supported by the US, suggested language on efforts to improve the human condition.
In paragraph 1, the EU stressed establishing a new consensus placing people at the center of sustainable development. The HOLY SEE preferred placing people at the center of "concerns for" sustainable development. MEXICO advocated pledging to prioritize the conquest of poverty, full employment and the fostering of stable, just societies. The US supported reference to productive employment and specified fostering social integration. Delegates agreed on consolidated text.
In paragraph 2, the G-77/CHINA supported reaffirming the commitments of the Copenhagen Declaration and POA. The EU proposed reaffirming commitments, strategies and key targets. The G-77/CHINA suggested reference to the will and commitment to implement the Declaration and POA, including agreed strategies and targets. Delegates adopted this formulation and removed a reference to coordinated follow-up on the condition it appear elsewhere in the draft declaration.
On paragraph 3, delegates debated proposals on social policy, an enabling environment, and social development. The text remains bracketed. Delegates agreed on a G-77/CHINA proposal pertaining to continued efforts by governments, relevant international organizations and actors of civil society to improve human well being and eradicate poverty. The remainder of the paragraph was cleared.
In paragraph 4 on the opportunities and challenges of globalization and technological advances, delegates agreed to refer to opportunities for social development, and to include a G-77/CHINA proposal to include economic development. Regarding challenges, including intensifying financial crises, insecurity, exclusion and inequality within and among societies, the G-77/CHINA specified continued and serious challenges and, supported by MEXICO, proposed adding poverty. The EU stressed poverty is not caused or intensified by globalization. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said it clearly impacts on poverty. The US opposed the reference to "intensifying." MEXICO proposed "widespread" instead and delegates accepted this along with the addition of poverty.
IN THE CORRIDORS
According to one well-known pundit, negotiators are about to face some whitewater, but they're all in the same boat. How fast the rapids are, and whether the boat will out-maneuver craggy obstacles such as globalization, is a matter of perspective. Delegates report being more pleased with progress in some working groups than others. Some observers point out that the negotiating groups have arrived with articulated basic positions – better news than at the recent Beijing +5 PrepCom, where positions were forged spontaneously and laboriously on the floor. Fallback plans and responses to queries on proposals, however, remain sketchy, and touchy political sensitivities are occasionally snarling even technical text.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
Working Group I will meet in Conference Room 2 at 10:00 am. Working Group III will meet in Conference Room 5 at 10:15 am. Working Group II will meet in Conference Room 2 at 3:00 pm. There may be one evening session.