Tuesday, March 12, 2013

European Union Briefing

Today afternoon a briefing was organised at the permanent mission of the EU for European NGOs.
Regarding the 3rd reading of the draft agreed conclusions, the general feeling is that time is becoming a problem. The reading is going slow, and more paragraphs should have been adopted by now. As long as there are difficult paragraphs still on the table, delegations are hesitant to conclude on other paragraphs.

It is the EU’s analysis that, in line with the first draft, there is a lot of “right” language there. The EU wants to look at the text in totality, and from that perspective “there are good things in the text”. As it stands out, the document does not go back to pre-Beijing, according to the EU. The Beijing Platform for Action has been reaffirmed (in spite of the Holy See’s amendment to the first draft to only “recall” it) and “on some issues the text goes further.” But it was also said that at this stage it will be difficult to include issues that Beijing doesn’t address (such as SOGI). It was also mentioned that no-one has said they want a document at any cost, but the general feeling is that everyone really does want agreed conclusions. And this is indeed very important to maintain credibility of the CSW, and UN Women as well.

There are a number of difficult paragraphs, including those on SRHR, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), sovereignty and cultural and religious customs vs. the law.

Intimate partner violence
Reference to violence in intimate relations is important to the EU. Domestic violence doesn’t cover all violence in close relations.

The EU is willing to accommodate the group of countries (Latin American ones such as Mexico, Brazil) that have proposed this. There are different views on terminology, so the solution would be as it is now: .

The EU was not willing to share much about the negotiations on SRHR, since the EU is divided on the issue. As we know, a group of 16 likeminded countries proposed a strong paragraph including sexual and reproductive rights. However, Malta, Poland and newcomer Hungary oppose to this, and on the other issues the EU speaks with one voice. The spokesperson said: “The approach is to have proposals and look at them alltogether, to find a solution together, since this is a consensus process.”

I have raised the issue that it would be a set-back if a qualifier – meaning a reference to a specific document – would be included to all reproductive health and rights paragraphs. Possible qualifiers that might be added are ICPD and Beijing. Though these have been very important document, the reference would exclude the progress that has been achieved in other documents, if those are not referred to.

Early and forced marriage
is an important issue for the EU, it was referred to as a “priority”. Currently there are 3 paragraphs referring to it (p bis; p alt bis; p alt). “It needs to be there in order to address all the issues that take place in the world. And we want to avoid qualifications to what we mean by that.”

Women human rights defenders
k ter)   Reformulated, proposed by EU [Support and protect those who defend the rights of women and women human rights defenders, who face particular risks both because of their gender and because of the nature of their work, and ensure that they are enabled to act without fear of reprisals, coercion, intimidation or attacks, including through integration of a gender perspective in all relevant policies and programmes];

EU works together with Switzerland to have aligned language proposals. It is being very difficult and controversial. Expertise of civil society on what we mean by human rights defenders has been consulted, to make it technically correct.

The EU is not a big fan of summing up (listing) different categories of women and girls in the text, reasoning that this list could never be complete. Thus it would only be in favour of this if the list is “balanced and complete”.

Comprehensive sexuality education
is an important issue to the EU. The EU welcomes the work done by the chair:

t cleaned up para: Develop and implement, in coordination with women’s, youth and specialized non-governmental organizations, and with the involvement of children, adolescents, youth, parents and communities and religious leaders, age-appropriate educational programmes and teaching materials that integrate a gender perspective, and teacher education and training programmes for both formal and non-formal education, including comprehensive evidence-based sexuality education, that promote and build decision-making, communication and risk reduction skills for respectful relationships, based on gender equality and human rights, for all adolescents and youth;

The EU spokesperson explained that they were asked to make clear what the relevance is related to violence against women and girls, since this is the topic of this year’s CSW. She explained that it is crucial to prevent violence, as “It addresses the issue of harmful perceptions”. However it remains a difficult issue in the text.

There has been more push to the sovereignty paragraphs versus universality than was expected. The EU considers this extremely unhelpful language since it is a human rights text, and the soveriegnty paragraph undermines the unversality of human rights.  It was said that “we can not accept 12 quin” This is a human rights text and human rights are universal.

Suggestion from one of the NGOs was to consider take away 3 quat and 6 ter, because can be replaced by 7 ter, which refers to universality.

3 quat. [The Commission reaffirms intersectionality as a basic concept for understanding that the discrimination of women based on sex and gender is inextricably linked with other factors such as race, ethnicity, religion or belief, health, status, age, class, caste, and sexual orientation and gender identity.]

6 ter (moved from former 7 alt). [The Commission urges States to take action to strengthen, promote and encourage positive cultural, religious and traditional values and practices of respect and non-violent relationships in families, schools, communities and public institutions.]

7 ter. [Recognizes that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated and that the international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis, and stresses that, while the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.]

= Joni van de Sand = 

No comments: