Tuesday, March 1, 2011

At the door of the conference room...

In the blog post of Monday the 28th titled ‘Youth Lobbying for amendments to Agreed Conclusions’, we explained how we started to work together with CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, and Youth Coalition to influence the Agreed Conclusions. This was only a drop of the numerous activities and developments that have followed.

A delicate equilibrium

This week is the most exciting week of the CSW, as during this week the delegations sit together to find consensus on the main topic. It is a tiresome process because every word (literally!) has to be discussed. For instance, some conservative countries do not agree with the terms ‘gender’ or ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights’. In that way, there is a whole list of terms that are controversial. On the other hand, there are more progressive countries, such as the Nordic countries, that are much more progressive. Since all will have to agree with what will be in the final documents, it depends on the willingness of the delegates to agree with certain words and sentences to get their own wish fulfilled at another place in the document. Basically, it’s an exchange of ‘favours’, a delicate equilibrium.

Lobby

Exactly here lies the entry point of our lobby activities: we need to get as many countries to prioritize the topics of sexual and reproductive health -and wherever possible ‘rights’ as well- and comprehensive sexuality education. Besides, there are some other amendments we wish to be fulfilled as we consider them crucial to the fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights. An example is the reference to ‘gender stereotypes’, which is unacceptable to many conservative countries.

Linguistic support

Much of the proposed amendments are based on previously agreements –also called ‘agreed language’. Therefore, we look up the relevant agreed language to support what we would like to change and provide these to delegates. In that way, they stand very strong to bring this into the discussion. Armed with a number of copies, we stand at the door of the conference room (since we are not allowed inside) to talk to delegates whenever the go to the bathroom or get something to eat.

A long and tiresome process...

Today, the discussions took very long. It started at 1 pm in the afternoon and continued until late in the evening. Finally, the whole document was discussed and the exhausted delegates could go to their hotels. The moderator now needs to do his homework and include what is discussed in a new document. This document again will be discussed in the next two days… a new opportunity for lobbying!

To be continued…

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