Report of main proceedings for 7 April 2000
Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 24th Special Session of the General Assembly (WSSD+5)
In the morning, Working Group I finished an initial reading of Commitment 1, on an enabling environment for social development. Working Group III met in the morning and afternoon to continue deliberations on the draft political declaration. In the afternoon, Working Group II discussed Commitment 4, on social integration, after which the Plenary convened for an hour to review progress.
Chair Maquieira noted that halfway through the PrepCom, delegates must think beyond consensus language and consider the quality of the outcome. He said Working Group I made progress on human rights, sanctions and technical assistance for developing countries to participate in international trade discussions, and added that delegates made headway in exploring ways out of remaining issues. Vice-Chair Richelle reported on Working Group II, noting that much of the text remaining in brackets is due to formulation problems rather than substantive differences. Vice-Chair Asadi was unable to present a progress report because of continued deliberations in Working Group III. Chair Maquieira then invited NGO representatives to speak.
The Third World Institute expressed grave concern that the political declaration does not address key challenges, and called for reconsidering links between globalization and development. The Women's Environment and Development Organization said millions of women fight constantly to be free of domestic and economic violence. She stated delegates' words translate into access to critical resources, and women must be integral to all development efforts. Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era called for a global effort to address feminization of poverty. The Commission of the Churches on International Affairs for the World Council of Churches said the political declaration doesn't address a world suffering profound moral and ethical crisis, where social policy initiatives are held hostage by market forces.
The International Council on Social Welfare called for devising clear proposals and going beyond refinement of social development language and over-intellectualization of the causes of poverty. He proposed a strengthened UN, new social development standards and an international anti-poverty pact. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions highlighted, inter alia, social dimensions to financial architecture, gender equality, poverty eradication, social protection and cooperation between international organizations. Human Rights Internet outlined the links between human rights and development. Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood International spoke about changing perceptions of the capacity of grassroots women, redistributing power, and acknowledging contradictions between local development and global competition.
WORKING GROUP I
COMMITMENT 1:ENABLING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Paragraph 15, on debt-servicing, was bracketed pending the political declaration's completion. No action was taken on paragraph 16, on encouraging corporate social responsibility, or on paragraph 17, on ILO-coordinated promotion of the private sector's social responsibility. In 16(a), the US, with CANADA, preferred reference to a predictable rather than a stable policy framework. The EU, supported by CANADA and the US, proposed combining 16(b), on enhancing partnerships, with 16(c), on supporting WSSD goals. CANADA emphasized corporate guidelines. No action was taken pending a G-77/China position. The EU proposed deleting or moving paragraph 18, on people's right to self-determination, to Commitment 6, on education and health care. No agreement was reached.
In paragraph 19, on international cooperation to countries affected by natural disasters, MEXICO emphasized, inter alia, reconstruction and prevention measures. JAPAN, with the US, NEW ZEALAND and CANADA, preferred an EU formulation on humanitarian assistance in conflict and post-conflict situations. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION and the G-77/CHINA opposed reference to conflict situations and Japan's text on assisting country efforts for internally displaced persons. In 19 bis, on addressing the causes of armed conflict, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA opposed moving the text from Commitment 1, and added language on preventing armed conflict. The US stated the text refers to governments, compared to similar text that refers to organizations in Commitment 4, on social integration. Sonia Felicity Elliott facilitated additional discussions on 19, 19 bis and 19 ter, on the protection of refugees.
In paragraph 20, on the UN system addressing corruption, and paragraph 21, on the draft organized crime convention, the US, JAPAN, NORWAY AND CANADA supported a merged EU proposal. Chair Maquieira referred several questions on the text to the Secretariat. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION, with MEXICO, NORWAY, NEW ZEALAND and the G-77/CHINA, agreed to combine 21 bis and 21 ter, on indigenous people, and move the text to Commitment 4. MEXICO suggested an additional reference to a permanent forum on indigenous rights. The EU and the US asked for time to review the proposals. Delegates agreed on paragraph 22, on giving proper consideration to the social and humanitarian impacts of sanctions, with a view to minimizing their effects. There was consensus on an EU formulation of paragraph 23, on supporting EIT countries to, inter alia, establish effective regulatory environments.
WORKING GROUP II
COMMITMENT 4: SOCIAL INTEGRATION: Paragraph 51, on mechanisms for people's participation, remains bracketed pending an EU-proposed deletion. Paragraph 52, on supporting civil society and social capital investments, was adopted with an EU and Holy See reference to groups with special needs. In paragraph 53, on enabling environments for civil society, CANADA supported an EU proposal to improve the political, legal and financial environments for civil society organizations to deliver social services. The G-77/CHINA and the US proposed alternative text on promoting an enabling environment for civil society organizations to, inter alia, deliver social services in a transparent and democratic manner, which was adopted.
In 53 bis, on establishing appropriate mechanisms for social development and monitoring progress, the EU opposed G-77/CHINA's deletion. The text remains bracketed. In 53 ter, on the participation of disadvantaged groups when drawing up poverty eradication and social inclusion programs, CANADA proposed to ensure, the US proposed to encourage and the Chair proposed to promote their effective participation. Delegates agreed to the last formulation. In 54 bis, on recognizing families and gender equality, delegates adopted the paragraph with an EU insertion on addressing consequences and causes of family disintegration and a US amendment on promoting appropriate actions to meet family member needs.
WORKING GROUP III
Regarding 6 bis, on debt-servicing and relief, delegates debated proposals from the G-77/China, the EU and Japan. JAPAN called for including language on developing country actions if developed country actions are specified. NORWAY supported EU language stressing implementation of the HIPC initiative. Incorporating elements of the EU and G-77/China proposals, delegates agreed to language recognizing that excessive debt servicing has severely constrained developing and EIT country capacity to promote social development, and recognizing efforts by indebted developing countries to fulfill their debt-servicing commitment despite the high social cost. Regarding effective, equitable, development-oriented and durable solutions to debt burdens needing concerted national and international actions, NORWAY, opposed by the EU, preferred concerted actions by the international community. The EU, with the US, bracketed reformulated text on addressing the debt problems of middle-income developing countries with a view to resolving their potential long-term debt-sustainability problem. Regarding the full financing and implementation of the HIPC initiative being essential, SWITZERLAND specified full "and additional" financing as well as the "enhanced" HIPC initiative. The EU specified this implementation is in the context of poverty reduction strategies and is essential for realizing the HIPC's potential. The US, with JAPAN, opposed full financing. The paragraph remains bracketed.
Revisiting paragraph 5, the G-77/CHINA proposed new text referring to, inter alia: respect for basic workers' rights, non-discrimination, tolerance and diversity; democracy; and transparent and accountable governance. The EU submitted reformulated text containing references to, inter alia: effective state institutions; participation of all citizens in decisions that affect their lives; and attachment to principles of good governance and rule of law. The EU also proposed a new 5 bis, calling for ratification and implementation of ILO conventions addressing workers' rights and child labor. EGYPT, supported by the US, suggested waiting for Working Group II's agreement on Commitment 3 before discussing 5 bis.
In the afternoon, Chair Asadi asked delegates to negotiate the remaining contentious elements in paragraphs 5, 6 bis and 9, and to consider "package deals." The G-77/CHINA stated: a reference to good governance in paragraph 5 was unacceptable, preferring a reference to accountable and transparent governments; a qualifying reference to employment with language on workers' rights in 5 bis would be accepted only with additional qualifying language on poverty and social development; a reference addressing debt problems of middle-income countries in 6 bis was essential; and a reference to reform of international financial institutions in paragraph 9 was negotiable. The EU said: the elements of good governance and workers' rights were essential, but remaining text in paragraphs 5 and 5bis was negotiable; agreement was possible on a reference to middle-income countries; and a reference to follow-up conferences and summits in paragraph 9 should be kept. The US favored reference to workers' rights but supported alternative placement; opposed text on middle-income countries; and agreed to negotiate language on reform of international financial institutions.
In paragraph 5, the EU proposed deleting reference to good governance in exchange for language on, inter alia, participation of all citizens in decisions that affect their lives. The G-77/CHINA preferred reference to democracy. The EU proposed replacing good governance with reference to effective, transparent and accountable governance and including a G-77/China reference to equitable distribution of wealth within and among nations. The US suggested, and the G-77/ CHINA and MEXICO supported, deleting 5 bis and referring to full respect for fundamental principles and rights at work in paragraph 5. The EU tentatively agreed, specifying rights at work as expressed in the ILO Declaration, deleting achievements assessed in terms of human well being, and pending decisions on 6 bis. CANADA, with SWITZERLAND, proposed, and PAKISTAN opposed, reference to full respect for the principal objectives of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work and its follow-up. On 6 bis, the US suggested reformulated text reiterating a pledge to find solutions to the external debt and debt-servicing burdens of developing countries.
Chair Asadi proposed as a package: using US language on workers' rights as a basis for agreement on paragraph 5; deleting provisions on addressing debt-problems of middle-income developing countries and on financing and implementation of the HIPC initiative in 6 bis; and incorporating Mexico's proposal on continuing work on reforms for a strengthened and more stable international financial system.
MEXICO and the EU supported the Chair's proposal. CUBA preferred to bracket paragraph 5. Stressing the political declaration's sensitivity, the G-77/CHINA: insisted that if US text on workers' rights was accepted then the reference to middle-income countries must also be included; called for deletion of reference to mutually reinforcing linkages between economic and social development in paragraph 5; and suggested delegates revert to earlier positions to renegotiate. The PHILIPPINES, ALGERIA, CUBA, and PAKISTAN agreed. The EU proposed, and Chair Asadi opposed, reintroducing paragraph 5 bis. Delegations agreed to resume discussion on an early afternoon draft of the declaration. Chair Asadi referred arranngement of further informal meetings to the Chair of the PrepCom.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Delegates argued openly and behind closed doors about whether the review document should refer to humanitarian assistance during armed conflicts. Some contended that human rights concerns justify humanitarian intervention. But amid questions about whether recent NATO actions in Kosovo have bypassed the Security Council and stretched the provisions of the UN Charter, other delegates expressed a different point of view. A high point of the week was precedent-setting language on the impact of sanctions on social development after the wrangling over this issue in CSD-38.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
WORKING GROUPS: Working Group I will meet in Conference Room 2 at 10:00 am. Working Group II will meet in Conference Room 5 at 10:00 pm.