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WORKING GROUP OF THE MAIN COMMITTEE

The Working Group continued its work on the draft commitment on education, completing a first reading after three negotiating sessions. The US suggested combining its proposed (f bis) (enhanced environment for learning) with (c bis) (widening partnerships). Paragraph (f bis) will remain the same, without reference to the Jomtien Declaration, but it will refer to "governments and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, religious groups, and families, in order to achieve the goals of education for all." The US proposed including the reference to the Jomtien Declaration in paragraph (a) (universalization of basic education), and the Syrian Arab Republic agreed. Iran requested brackets around the reference to families, but later accepted the reference. In paragraph (ff) (health education programs for children), Argentina proposed replacing the list of health issues with a reference to comprehensive preventive health programmes. The US, supported by the EU, said that nothing should be listed, but accepted a reference to "special attention to women and girls." Canada requested that the list be kept in brackets. Egypt suggested deleting "Strive to" at the beginning of the paragraph, to conform with other paragraphs. The US and the EU supported Egypt"s proposal to refer to a "whole range of health issues as a prerequisite for social development," but the Holy See objected. The Chair noted that the proposal would be accepted where there was agreed language, and that the remainder of the text would be bracketed.

In paragraph (g) (achieving goals of national health strategies), the US proposed an amendment calling for the prevention of disability and the spread of diseases. After some debate about whether disability should be "prevented" or "reduced," delegates agreed to "promote nutrition education and prevention programmes." Delegates agreed to a re-ordered paragraph (h)(bis) (health dimensions of policies in all sectors) based on the US explanation that it would highlight the fundamental role that health considerations play in social sector development policies. In paragraph (i) (maternal and child health objectives), several delegates expressed difficulty with the target rates and dates to reduce child and maternal mortality.

In paragraph (i)(bis) (addressing HIV/AIDS), the US noted that the paragraph addresses the elimination of discrimination and calls for provision of support services. The Holy See, supported by the US, proposed strengthening the paragraph by adding "every form of" before discrimination.

In paragraph (j) (strengthening international organizations), delegates agreed to accept the draft text and to move it to the section on international actions. Delegates agreed on the need for a paragraph addressing environmental education, as proposed by Norway, and they agreed to include the G-77 amendment calling for education about unsustainable patterns of consumption and production. In paragraph (k) (support from international organizations), the G-77 preferred retaining the word "ensure" and deleting the reference to the WHO or UNESCO. The G-77 noted that this paragraph deals with international financial institutions. Canada stated that the word "ensure" had not been used previously in relation to international level actions. The US noted that the objectives addressed in this paragraph are not necessarily included in the mandates of all international organizations. India, supported by the US and Canada, agreed to add "strive to ensure" to the beginning of the paragraph. The EU, supported by Japan, noted that the WHO and UNESCO would be directly affected by this paragraph. Egypt said the thrust of the paragraph is to specify the role of certain international organizations. Benin said that the mandates of UNESCO and the financial institutions are completely different. If this paragraph dealt with only the international financial institutions, then heads of State must provide specific instructions to their representatives on the governing bodies of these institutions regarding assistance to UNESCO and the WHO. The Syrian Arab Republic said that paragraph (m) was the appropriate place for references to WHO and UNESCO.

The US withdrew (k bis) (sharing knowledge), noting that he would propose amendments to the similar Canadian paragraph (n) which deals with the same topic. The EU withdrew its objection to paragraph (l), but proposed replacing "preserve common cultural heritage we enjoy" with respect of "our common cultural heritage." The US reserved on "common cultural heritage." The EU, supported by Egypt, noted that humanity"s common cultural heritage and diversity must be preserved. The G-77, supported by the EU, the US, the Holy See, and Mali, proposed: "Recognizing the importance of the cultural dimension of development to ensure respect for cultural diversity and that of our common human cultural heritage. Creativity is to be recognized and promoted."

In paragraph (m) (UN institutions), the G-77 proposed: "Requests UN institutions and other international organizations dedicated to the promotion of education, culture, and health to give greater emphasis to the overriding goals of eradication of poverty, promotion of full and productive employment, and fostering social integration." The US said this paragraph was similar to (k). He suggested merging these paragraphs or deleting (m). The Syrian Arab Republic said that paragraphs (m) and (k) are different. India, the EU, and the Holy See said this paragraph deals with the three themes of the Summit and that this paragraph is substantially different from paragraph (k), which deals only with this commitment.

In paragraph (m bis) (action on HIV/AIDS), the US, supported by Canada and the EU, proposed deleting the word "global." Benin, supported by the Sudan and Egypt, said that the proper place for this reference was is in (l bis), and that all of the diseases mentioned in paragraph 35(d) of the Programme of Action should be mentioned here. Canada proposed "major threats to health." The G-77 objected to any reference to particular programs here. The Chair stated that (i bis) was agreed text and that a small group, consisting of the US, the G-77, and Canada, should discuss this paragraph.

In paragraph (n) (sharing knowledge), the EU said that agreement had been reached to delete (k bis) because paragraph (n) was more comprehensive. A new Brazilian text for paragraph (n) had not been circulated. The G-77 said that the two paragraphs should be merged. The Holy See noted that its proposed paragraph (educational health programmes) deals with issues which greatly affect the girl child in education and health.

During a night session, the Working Group began a second reading of the draft education commitment. In the new paragraph proposed by the Holy See (educational health programmes), the EU proposed two amendments calling for coordinated international action for education focused on the protection of all children. The US, supported by the Holy See, added a reference to women. Norway preferred the text as introduced. The consensus text called for international support for "educational health programmes, focused on the protection of all women and children, especially against harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriages."

The G-77 and the EU proposed a compromise chapeau, which combined most of the elements from each of their original proposals and which included calls for: quality education; access to primary health care; respect for common and particular cultures; people-centered sustainable development; and enhancing the culture of peace. In paragraph (a) (eradication of illiteracy), the EU removed its objection to introducing national languages in the educational system, but suggested that they, "should attempt to attain the same quality standards." The US proposed a reference to the Jomtien Declaration. The EU suggested a reference to "primary education and for illiterates in all communities" after the call for "universalization of basic education." The G-77 called for nations to strive "to attain the highest possible standard of learning."

In paragraph (b) (lifelong learning), the EU called for providing the "useful knowledge, reasoning ability, skills and values" required to develop full capacities. Iran objected to the implied elimination of the reference to ethical values, sparking a half-hour debate. The Chair eventually suggested bracketing the reference. During the discussion on paragraph (c) (steps to close the gender gap), the G-77 suggested combining paragraphs (f bis) (exercise of children's rights) and (h) (access to nutrition) and placing them before (c). Paragraph (c) would read: "Take appropriate and affirmative steps to enable all children and adolescents to attend and complete school and to close the gender gap in primary, secondary, vocational and higher education." The Holy See said language referring to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and respect for the rights, duties and responsibilities of parents would not have to be included in (c) if such language were in the combined (f bis)-(h). The US reminded delegates that the second (f bis) (learning acquisition) had been combined with (c bis) (partnerships with the family).

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