Report of main proceedings for 12 April 2000

Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 24th Special Session of the General Assembly (WSSD+5)

The Plenary met at noon to hear an update on WSSD+5 preparations and a series of NGO speakers. In the morning, afternoon and evening, Working Group I discussed Commitment 8, on structural adjustment programmes, and Commitment 9, on resource allocation. In the morning, afternoon and evening, Working Group II debated Commitment 6, on education and health, and Commitment 10, on social development cooperation.

THE PLENARY

SWITZERLAND noted preparations are on track for WSSD+5 and for a parallel forum for civil society, parliamentarians and the private sector. NGOs spoke on behalf of themselves and various caucuses. CARITAS stated the trickle-down economic system doesn't work, and called for controlling financial speculation and fulfilling ODA targets. The INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHARITIES highlighted partnerships, women's capacity and the participation of the poor in anti-poverty programmes. The GENERAL BOARD OF GLOBAL MINISTRIES OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH said the further initiatives document makes no strong statements on education, and noted debt relief and fulfillment of ODA targets as key to WSSD.

The THIRD WORLD NETWORK maintained that powerful countries seek to diminish the modest WSSD commitments, especially on issues related to globalization. She called for emphasizing women's role in development, and linking WSSD+5 and Beijing+5. The WORLD CONFEDERATION OF LABOR questioned language in the draft political declaration on the positive aspects of globalization. He called on G-77/China countries to improve their representation at WSSD+5, including through NGO participation. The INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE noted the impressive economic growth of the past five years, and said codes of conduct in the WSSD+5 document are unnecessary because most corporations have internal guidelines already. The CITIZENS' COALITION FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE endorsed a currency transaction tax, time-bound targets for reversing ODA shortfalls and an anti-poverty pact.

WORKING GROUP I

COMMITMENT 8: STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMMES: In 104 bis, on encouraging nationally-owned PRSs, the WORLD BANK described PRS efforts to guide, focus and be consistent with HIPC country development frameworks, including SAPs. She said the PRS approach will likely expand to low-income countries. The text remains bracketed. Delegates agreed to delete 104 (f ), on encouraging production and consumption of products.

COMMITMENT 9: RESOURCE ALLOCATION: In paragraph 108, on undertaking nationally-prioritized efforts to mobilize domestic social development resources, delegates agreed to the Chair's formulation. In 108(a), on reallocating resources for investment in social development, the G-77/CHINA opposed, and the EU supported, a HOLY SEE suggestion to insert reference to reducing illegal transfers of small arms. The G-77/CHINA proposed text to reallocate public resources where possible by reducing excessive military expenditure. INDIA emphasized the need to refer to consistency with national security requirements. JAPAN proposed incorporating Copenhagen text on reduction of excessive military expenditures. The paragraph was agreed.

In 108 (c), delegates agreed to a G-77/China amendment on endeavoring to enhance the cost-effectiveness of social spending. In 108 (d), delegates reiterated agreement on strengthening private investment mechanisms to increase public resources for social investments. In 108 (e), on civil society involvement complementing government social services provision, CANADA, with the EU, supported text on governments ensuring basic social services are available to all. The EU supported language on enhancing universal access to social services for all provided by civil society, including the private sector. With the G-77/CHINA, CANADA defended reference to universal access to basic social services for all. The EU preferred, and the G-77/CHINA, ALGERIA, CHINA and the HOLY SEE opposed, agreed CSD-38 language on civil society, including the private sector. The US opposed references to universal access for all and basic social services. Text remains bracketed.

In paragraph 109, on supporting developing countries in addressing globalization challenges and establishing guidelines for domestic revenue generating policies, delegates agreed to a reference to "government request." Delegates considered 109 (a), on equitable and progressive broadening of the tax base, with an EU-proposed 109 (a) on re-evaluating, as appropriate, national fiscal policies, with the aim of reducing income inequalities and promoting social equity. Delegates agreed to text on promoting social equality and reducing income inequality.

They also agreed to: 109 (b), on improving the efficiency of tax administration; 109 (c), on seeking new revenue sources; 109 (d), on undertaking various forms of public borrowing; and 109 (e), on optimizing the cost-effectiveness of social spending.

In paragraph 110, delegates agreed on considering further means at the national level to mobilize additional resources. Agreed language in 110 (a) refers to extending access to microcredit programmes and other financial instruments. It includes a US-proposed reference to women. In 110 (b), delegates adopted text on supporting community participation in, inter alia, the planning of local infrastructure. At the G-77/CHINA's request, they deleted reference to cooperation with national and international organizations and NGOs. No action was taken on 110 (c), on improving and restructuring, as appropriate, national tax systems, or on 110 (d), on removing tax allowances for bribes.

In paragraph 111, the EU supported G-77/China text on considering further international means to mobilize additional social development resourcesThe US preferred Copenhagen language on seeking new and additional resources. The text remains bracketed. In 111 (a), on formulas for the tax liability of multi-national corporations, delegates supported the US substitution of "methods." In a new 111 (a), on means for international cooperation in tax policies, delegates agreed to a reference to tax matters. In 111 (b), on exploring limits on tax shelters and havens, the EU and US noted reservations. The text remains bracketed. Proposals for 111 (c), on mechanisms to stabilize commodity export earnings, remain bracketed. In 111 (d), on exchanging information to prevent tax avoidance, delegates agreed to a G-77/China reference to promoting treaties for avoiding double taxation. In 111 (e), on exploring ways and means to increase resource flows to developing countries, delegates accepted an EU reference to LDCs, and the text was agreed. In 111 (f), the US, JAPAN and the EU opposed Canada's proposal for the further study of the feasibility of a currency transaction tax. With G-77/China support, CANADA agreed to redraft. Text remains bracketed in 111 (g), on strengthening mechanisms for repatriating illegally acquired funds. No action was taken on a Holy See proposal for a new 111 (g) bis, on international cooperation regarding tax issues arising from new areas of economic activities.

WORKING GROUP II

COMMITMENT 6: EDUCATION AND HEALTH: Delegates agreed the Secretariat should combine 75 bis, 75 ter, 76 and 77, on HIV/AIDS, into two paragraphs on national and international efforts against the disease. The group debated an EU reformulation merging paragraphs 78 and 79 on health research and related partnerships, and agreed on encouraging commercial investment in research to find affordable remedies for diseases that particularly afflict developing countries. SYRIAopposed text on inviting international organizations to encourage improving public-private sector partnerships. Delegates agreed on text inviting WHO to consider improving such partnerships in health research.

Discussion on paragraphs 80, new 80 bis, 81, 82 and 83 was deferred. Delegates accepted Mexico's proposed 81 bis, on IFI support of national health and education programmes. NORWAY proposed a reformulated paragraph 84, on promoting universal and equitable access to education. Delegates agreed to language on, inter alia: strengthening community-based and school-based health education programmes and improving retention rates for women and girls. BRAZIL, with ALGERIA and the US, opposed an EU reference to improving education through national legislation. The US opposed reference to national responsibility. The EU questioned, while SUDAN and ALGERIA supported, Holy See text on parents' rights in choosing education for their children. The paragraph remains bracketed.In paragraph 85, on supporting educational personnel, CANADA specified measures to better acknowledge and support. Delegates amended a list of measures and agreed to the text. In paragraph 86, delegates agreed on a reference to encouraging and assisting capacity building for secondary and tertiary education and training students for effective participation in the global economy. The US opposed comparable education standards as the purpose of promoting international exchanges in education. Delegates agreed to text on fostering greater self-reliance in meeting development challenges and increasing sensitivity for and better understanding of all cultures and awareness of global issues.

COMMITMENT 10: SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION: EGYPT, with ALGERIA, opposed the EU's proposal for 114 ter, on reporting the state of ratification of all relevant instruments in social development. The text remains bracketed. In paragraph 115, on effective indicators for social policy development, delegates agreed to, inter alia: delete reference to governments and civil society; add reference to the national level; and delete EU-proposed indicators. INDIA opposed a reference to producing reliable statistics on social policy. NEW ZEALAND, with the EU, noted that this was ICPD+5 language. The US proposed, with INDIA and the EU, deletion of reference to capacity building, monitoring and evaluation. The text remains bracketed.

In paragraph 116, on the UN system collecting information on common social indicators, delegates could not ascertain the collection's purpose and noted New Zealand, India and China's proposals to delete the paragraph. In paragraph 117, on regional cooperation, no action was taken on 117 (a), on promoting dialogue. On 117 (b), delegates agreed on encouraging regional commissions to evaluate implementation of Copenhagen and the Special Session. On 117 (c), delegates could not agree on text encouraging recipient countries, donor governments and agencies as well as multilateral financial institutions to consider the agenda of regional commissions and other regional and sub-regional organizations in their funding policies and programmes. The US agreed to delete its proposal for 117 (d), on support for regional social development initiatives.

In paragraph 118, on strengthening ECOSOC, delegates agreed to 118 (a), on relationships within the UN system. The US proposed, and the EU opposed, deletion of 118 (b), on expanding meetings between ECOSOC and BWIs. Delegates considered EU and US proposals for 118 (c), on supporting cooperation through joint meetings with governing bodies. The G-77/CHINA preferred to bracket the paragraph. Delegates also bracketed: paragraph 119, on strengthening multilateral cooperation to share information on and improve accessibility of social policy standards and good practice; paragraph 120, on dialogue channels with business; and paragraph 121 on South-South cooperation, pending South-South summit outcomes. Delegates deleted 120 bis, on facilitating NGO contributions to international fora. Paragraph 122 formulations on promoting the right to development remain bracketed.Delegates proposed, and the G-77/CHINA opposed, deletion of paragraph 123, on IFI reform. Discussion on paragraph 124, on an integrated approach to development, was deferred. Delegates agreed to G-77/China language on paragraph 125, on national POA implementation mechanisms. Paragraph 126, on parliaments, remains bracketed. Delegates deleted paragraph 127, on an institutional process for poverty eradication. Paragraph 128, on a global campaign to eradicate poverty, and paragraph 129, on further implementation, remain bracketed.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Negotiations are wading deep into New York diplo-speak, but 11th hour urgency is setting in as delegates confront the need to report progress by week's end. One group is busy managing its "overflow" of ideas. Meanwhile, delegates voiced disappointment over Commitment 5, on gender equality. Despite Chair Richelle's attempts to fuel substantive discussion, talks bogged down on basic terms, with few concrete measures to empower either women or the document. Some hope that Beijing+5 will inspire better work; others worry that the early June meeting comes too late. Perhaps the dearth of rooms for intersessionals will break the spell. Delegates now face either making more progress on text or negotiating the politics of which meetings to cancel in a busy May.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

WORKING GROUPS: Working Group I will meet in morning, afternoon and evening sessions in Conference Room 2. Working Group II will meet in afternoon and evening sessions in Conference Room 5.

Further information

Participants

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