RICHELLE CONTACT GROUP: Amb. Richelle briefed NGOs on the work of his contact group on chapters II, III, and IV. He said that his characterization of PrepCom III as a "snail applying full brakes while taking a curve" also described the speed of his group here in Copenhagen. The group has made progress on issues related to the family and to unremunerated productive work, but has struggled on issues related to reproductive health and labor standards. Delegates agreed to Cairo language for the family-related issues. On unremunerated work, delegates debated statistical approaches to account for unremunerated work. They finally settled on a combination of various proposals that provide countries with flexibility in developing and applying accounting methods. Developing countries were wary that bracketed language referring to labor standards could be applied against them in trade disputes, while other delegates debated whether bracketed language on national laws and international treaties could be effectively applied. The working group met late into Wednesday night in an attempt to resolve remaining differences.
BUTLER CONTACT GROUP: In a briefing for NGOs, Amb. Butler (Australia) characterized his contact group's work (on rights issues) as "trying to cause yesterday's politics to catch up with tomorrow's agenda." He noted that the post-cold war world presented challenges for the implementation of the rights agenda of the Social Summit. Specifically, a new balance between the needs of States and the needs of the international community would have to be established. He said that some states will require assistance with implementation of the Social Summit Programme of Action. However, international assistance must respect the integrity of States.
Butler said that the post-cold war world has revealed much misery and unemployment. While a new international agenda is now being defined, the precise relationship between national and international areas of competence has yet to be articulated. Butler added that this question bears on the role of the UN system in promoting people-centered human development.
Butler explained that the debates in his contact group had touched on aspects of this new relationship which might seem tangential the issue of social development, but were actually central to implementing the Programme of Action. This was particularly evident in the group's discussions regarding the place of prescriptive language in the text, which to a large extent was driven by the nature of the issue under consideration.
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