Report of main proceedings for 13 April 2000

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

In the morning, afternoon and evening, Working Group I discussed Commitment 9, on resource allocation, and Commitment 7, on accelerated development in Africa and the LDCs. In the afternoon and evening, Working Group II debated Commitment 2, on poverty eradication, and Commitment 4, on social integration.

WORKING GROUP I

COMMITMENT 9: RESOURCE ALLOCATION: In 112 (b), on strengthening international support for debt management capacity in HIPC and developing countries, delegates agreed to use language from GA Resolution A/54/202 and "to call upon" international community support. In 112 (b) bis, the G-77/CHINA proposed new text on taking measures to address the debt problem of middle-income developing countries. Brackets remain, pending US reflection on the "new concept" and EU consideration of "respectable documents." In 112 (c), on urging donor countries to fulfill the agreed ODA target of 0.7% of GNP, JAPAN, the EU and the US proposed urging donor countries to strive to fulfill this as soon as possible. The G-77/CHINA preferred a target of 2005. The HOLY SEE proposed language on striving to fulfill yet-to-be attained internationally agreed targets. Proposals remain bracketed. In 112 (d), on encouraging interested countries to implement the 20/20 initiative, NORWAY proposed, with EU support and G-77/CHINA opposition, deleting "interested." The G-77/CHINA opposed proposals to append: by enhancing the coordination of efforts (the US); by establishing poverty eradication indicators for monitoring (Switzerland); and by monitoring and discussing implementation in relevant fora (the EU). Delegates agreed the paragraph after deleting "monitoring" in the EU amendment and inserting reference to the Oslo and Hanoi Consensus. The US and the EU opposed 112 (e), on preferential interest rates for social development, noting the forum was inappropriate and that preferential rates already exist. The text is bracketed pending discussion by the G-77/China. After debate about a reference to land-locked and transit countries in 112 (f), on providing these countries with support to implement the WSSD, Chair Maquieira agreed to research precedent language. Delegates agreed to 112 (g), on implementing commitments regarding the special needs and vulnerabilities of the small island developing states. Delegates deleted 112 (h), on assisting EIT countries to develop progressive and efficient tax systems, and paragraph 113, on the UN Ad Hoc Group of Experts on International Taxation Cooperation promoting international cooperation on tax matters.

In paragraph 114, on improving methods of controlling the use of available funds to benefit groups with special needs, the HOLY SEE suggested reference to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. The EU proposed 114 bis, on cooperation between governments and civil society to increase efficiency and effectiveness of resources for health and education. The G-77/CHINA proposed, and the US and EU opposed, merged language on transparency and accountability for greater efficiency and effectiveness. The US proposed substituting the G-77/China proposal for 114 and including a reference to improved methods of monitoring expenditures. The G-77/CHINA objected to "monitoring." Brackets remain on the text.

COMMITMENT 7: AFRICA AND THE LDCS: Delegates agreed on chapeau language based on the Copenhagen Declaration. CANADA proposed 86 bis, on encouraging efforts to promote sustainable human development that integrate pro-poor economic growth, universal access to basic social services, transparent and accountable governance, and sustainable development. The G-77/ CHINA preferred omitting reference to sustainable human development. The text remains bracketed.

In paragraph 87, on encouraging international efforts to establish favorable conditions for integration and participation, the G-77/ CHINA supported, and the EU and US opposed, references to favorable conditions, equitable integration into the global economy and participation in the multilateral trade system. The EU and the US supported language on promoting full integration and participation and deleting reference to the multilateral trade system. The EU suggested EU-Africa partnership language on fostering smooth and gradual integration to promote sustainable development. TURKEY suggested an UNCTAD 10 reference to successful integration. Referring to GA Resolution A/54/198 and Copenhagen language, the G-77/ CHINA proposed, and the EU opposed, language on creating an enabling environment to facilitate integration for equitable participation in the multilateral trade system. Proposals remain bracketed.

In 87 (a), on implementing debt relief consistent with the HIPC initiative, the G-77/CHINA supported a Norwegian proposal amended by the EU on "innovative" debt relief initiatives for LDCs and proposed reference to debt cancellation. JAPAN and the US objected. The text remains bracketed. In 87 (b), on improving market access for export products, the G77/CHINA proposed reference to eliminating all trade barriers and, inter alia, duty-free treatment, quota elimination and preferential schemes for their products. The HOLY SEE supported Norway's proposal to reduce tariffs. JAPAN, NEW ZEALAND and the HOLY SEE, preferred "tariff-free" to "duty-free." The US, NORWAY and the EU (ad referendum) supported an amended G-77/China text referring to including by eliminating, inter alia, trade barriers and other protectionist measures, securing tariff-free treatment, eliminating quotas and providing preferential schemes for essentially all of their products. Pending Japan's position, the amended paragraph remains bracketed.

In 87 (c), on supporting programmes for taking advantage of the multilateral trading system, the EU proposed reference to regional trade organizations. NORWAY inserted references to the International Trade Commission and the Integrated Framework for Trade Related Technical Assistance to the Least Developed Countries. With NORWAY and the US, the G-77/CHINA proposed placing the latter reference in its own paragraph and reference to other relevant regional and sub-regional economic organizations and the ITC in addition to the WTO and UNCTAD. The text was agreed.

Delegates agreed to 87 (d), on pursuing SAPs relevant to the needs of these countries by supporting growth-enhancing, poverty-reducing economic reforms.

In paragraph 88, on enhancing productive capacity, delegates agreed to merging US and G-77/China references to policies and programmes, and to inserting a US reference to public and private information sharing systems. NEW ZEALAND suggested "encouraging" to replace a US reference to "creating a stable climate for" domestic and foreign investment, and delegates agreed to the text. After discussion on what constitutes an international institution, delegates deleted paragraph 89, on encouraging international efforts to assist governments to improve the foreign investment environment. In paragraph 90, on donors encouraging investment in critical infrastructure services, including in post-conflict situations, the US expressed difficulties with a reference to utilizing infrastructure investments to promote employment. The text remains bracketed. Paragraph 91, on giving tax concessions to companies and supporting the development of venture capital funds, remains bracketed, after the US noted problems with tax concessions.

WORKING GROUP II

COMMITMENT 2: POVERTY ERADICATION: In paragraph 24, on policies and strategies, delegates agreed on placing poverty eradication at the center of development and building consensus to halve extreme poverty by 2015. In paragraph 27, on national strategies for a multi-sectoral approach to poverty eradication, the G-77/CHINA accepted EU proposals to, inter alia, delete reference to all relevant government ministries and departments. The paragraph was agreed. Considering a Chair's reformulation of EU-proposed 27 bis, the G-77/ CHINA could not accept reference to "meso-level" in addressing capacity and institution building. The paragraph remains bracketed. Delegates agreed to 27 bis (a), on promoting coherence between national and international strategies and programmes to combat poverty. In 27 bis (e), on restructuring public expenditure policies to, inter alia, improve their accountability, the EU specified clear lines of accountability. Delegates agreed on measures in 27 (h) to support small- and medium-sized enterprises. In 27 bis (i), on the informal sector, the EU deferred discussion on safeguarding and promoting respect for the basic rights of workers. The G-77/CHINA opposed, and delegates left bracketed, Canadian text on promoting the balance of employment and family responsibilities. In 27 bis (o), on promoting poverty assessment, the EU, with SWITZERLAND, emphasized participatory assessment. INDIA stressed first removing people from poverty. The text remains bracketed. In 27 bis (q), delegates agreed on supporting initiatives to empower people living in poverty, especially female heads of households, and promote their self-organization capacities. The EU withdrew its 27 bis (t), on health care payment protection mechanisms. The G-77/CHINA introduced, but delegates did not discuss, a proposal on food insecurity. In 27 bis (u), on health policies, the HOLY SEE opposed an EU reference to reproductive health services, and proposed, with NORWAY opposing, language on pro-poor health systems that focus on, inter alia, reducing major diseases. The G-77/CHINA added reference to immunization. The paragraph remains bracketed.

Delegates accepted paragraph 26, on including, inter alia, access to productive resources and micro-finance in pro-poor growth strategies. Delegates deleted paragraph 25, on medium-term measures to eradicate poverty. In 27 ter, on social protection systems, delegates supported references to, inter alia, best practices and community-based innovative schemes. Chapeau language was agreed. Discussion was deferred on 27 ter (a), on social protection for the uninsured, and 27 ter (b), on social security.

COMMITMENT 4: SOCIAL INTEGRATION: Delegates agreed on paragraph 51, on improving participation, cooperation and dialogue; deleted 53 bis, on social development advisory and monitoring mechanisms; and agreed on paragraph 54, on voluntarism. Delegates bracketed 55 bis, on the role and partnership accountabilities of non-profit organizations. In paragraph 57, on countering certain information dissemination, the HOLY SEE added pornography and specified religious intolerance. CANADA added sexism. Alternatives for "ageism" were not decided and the additions remain bracketed.

In paragraph 59, on measures to eliminate racism, the US proposed deleting text on resources to support future conferences. The paragraph was agreed. In paragraph 59 bis, on violence against women, the US and the G-77/CHINA supported reference to gender-based violence. The paragraph was agreed. INDIA stated, and all agreed, that discussion of text on indigenous people, including 59 ter, 21 bis and 21 ter, be deferred pending negotiations in Geneva. In paragraph 60, on aging, the US opposed an EU reference on supporting preparation of a POA for the Second World Assembly on Aging. Discussion was deferred.

In paragraph 61, on empowering people with disabilities, delegates deleted reference to environmental measures. The paragraph was agreed. Paragraph 61 bis, on employment for people with disabilities, was agreed. The EU bracketed paragraph 62, on refugees and displaced persons. The US deferred discussion on paragraphs 63 and 64, on migrants. Delegates agreed on paragraph 65, on supporting efforts to counter drugs, subject to nomenclature checks. Delegates deferred paragraph 65 bis, on substance abuse, and noted Canada's new paragraph 66 bis, on addressing the causes of armed conflict. Brackets remain within paragraph 67, on strengthening UN promotion of social integration in its post-conflict strategies. In paragraph 69, on social protection measures, delegates deleted the chapeau but retained sub-paragraphs pending relocation.

IN THE CORRIDORS

The PrepCom entered its final hours yesterday with a scramble for missing documents in Working Group I. Frustration broke in one bloc over proposals that couldn't be backed with previous agreed text – or at least text that could be quickly located. Without paper in hand, delegates resorted to animated face time on the floor that sometimes broke into diplomatically emotional outbursts. Nevertheless, two weeks of difficult talks close with delegates and NGOs voicing optimism on some key issues, including: debt relief, governance, corporate conduct, resources, taxation and strengthening the UN system. Delegates sailed smoothly through text on economic sanctions, and the currency transaction tax clung to the document. The best in-the-spirit-of-flexibility phrase: growth-enhancing, poverty-reducing economic reforms. Most predictable odds: Whether the World Solidarity Fund will survive the final cut. The most arcane diplomatic quibble: Is UNCTAD an international institution or just a conference? In the words of Chair Maquieira, if it walks like a duck…

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

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

PLENARY: The Plenary will convene at 4:30 pm.

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