Sunday, March 10, 2013

Informals tomorrow – where do we stand?

Here’s a selection of some of the developments last Friday during the discussion of the Agreed Conclusions.

Roles and responsibilities of families
An interesting discussion takes place around the roles and responsibilities of families to prevent violence. The three paragraphs below show very different angles to look at this. The first talks of educating families so they can perform their protective roles better. The second names families as one of many actor-groups that could play a role in prevention. Whereas the third considers families crucial, although the text is very vague: can lead to …. in different ways.” Now what does that mean exactly?!    

n quat) [Philippines ADD: Support and strengthen the roles and responsibilities of parents as primary caregivers in creating a safe, nurturing and supportive family environment for children, and ensuring that they are protected from violence and abuse. Parents and legal guardians should be educated so that they themselves do not perpetrate violence against their children (based on A/61/299 para.110 (a-c))]

u bis) [Iceland ADD: Explore innovative policies and programmes to address violence against women, through for example promoting the significant role of the family in preventing all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls within the family, including intimate partner and domestic violence. (based on Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, paragraph 29)]

u ter) [Iran ADD: Strengthen the institution of the family as the [Holy See DELETE: most important] [Holy See ADD: fundamental group] unit of society which can lead to decrease the level of violence against women and girls in different ways]

The African Group and Qatar have aligned themselves with the Holy See’s proposal. The Holy See, the Russian Federation, Syria and Iran want u ter) to be the first paragraph in the list. They also want to have referral to intimate partner violence removed, probably because “partner” could include LGBTI-relationships. On the other hand, the EU, Australia, Iceland and champion Uruguay want to have u ter) deleted, with the latter stating that it is factually wrong.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights
Paragraphs n), n bis) and o) deal with sexual and reproductive health and rights. In pargraph n) the Russian federation wants to delete the reference to the human rights of girls.  The Holy See wants to delete “their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality free of coercion, discrimination and violence”

Paragraphs n bis) shows the progressiveness of Brazil and the obstruction of Malta:
[Brazil ADD: Guarantee the conditions and resources for the protection and exercise of women’s sexual and reproductive [Malta DELETE: rights] [Malta ADD: health] throughout the lifecycle and across population groups, free of all forms of discrimination, based on the integrated approach promoted in the programme of action of the International Conference on Population and Development.]

In paragraph o) CARICOM (Caribbean states), Chile, the Holy See, Iran, Malta, and the Russian Federation all want to delete “all human rights and fundamental freedoms including their [Brazil ADD: sexual and] reproductive rights,] [CARICOM DELETE: by all women and girls].”

In addition there has been discussion on including a “qualifier” in the texts referring to SRHR. Indonesia, Chile, Bangladesh, Poland, African group and Malaysia have all asked for this. Qatar wants to delete references to reproductive rights alltogether. Strong advocates against the qualifier are Turkey (once again, hurray!) and Norway.

Violence against girls
T ter has been agreed!
t ter) Improve the safety of girls at and on the way to and from school, including by establishing a safe and violence free environment by improving infrastructure such as transportation, providing separate and adequate sanitation facilities, improved lighting, playgrounds and safe environments; adopting national policies to prohibit, prevent and address violence against children, especially girls, including sexual harassment, and bullying and other forms of violence, through measures such as conducting violence prevention activities in schools and communities, and establishing and enforcing penalties for violence against girls.

Persons in authority
As the horrific sexual abuse scandals by the Vatican have demonstrated, persons with authority can form a real threat to women’s and girl’s safety. It is crucial to acknowledge this and have strong language about it in the text. Currenlty it is included as such:

New 4 supra.) The Commission affirms that violence against women and girls is rooted in structural inequalities between women and men, constitutes a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls and is a form of discrimination that seriously impairs or nullifies their enjoyment of those rights and freedoms.  It is intrinsically linked with unequal distribution of resources and authority in the family and in society and is characterized by the use and abuse of physical, emotional and financial power and control.

Uruguay proposed to include a stronger reference in the text. This is in line with the Beijing Platform for Action, paragraph 121: “Women may be vulnerable to violence perpetrated by persons in positions of authority in both conflict and non-conflict situations.”

Human rights defenders
are mentioned in 3 paragraphs in the text, and has become problematic. I can not get my head around it why anyone would possibly NOT want to protect people who protect the rights of others, but Syria, China and the Russian Federation want to delete this from the text. In addition the African group, Indonesia, Iran are asking why a separate paragraph on only this group is necessary. There is however a strong coalition to keep it in, including the EU, USA, Turkey, the Philippines, Canada, Norway, Caricom (!), and progressive like minded countries Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

The Chair has asked States to write letting her know what issues they can compromise on so she can pull together the next draft accordingly. The next draft is expected Sunday afternoon and negotiations to resume Monday afternoon. 

= Joni van de Sand = 


Lin McDevitt-Pugh said...

Hi Joni
Are you actually saying that the Holy See is so stuck on not acknowledging same sex relationships that the word "partner" now unofficially means same sex partner? And must therefore never be said? If that is so, this is a victory for the LGBTI movement. The less words can be used, the more boxed-in the anti-emancipation block becomes. THese battles are clearly being won by people with access to words (and lost by people who cannot use specific words).

loeky droesen said...

hi lin

yep that is how we believe the concept of intimate partner violence is being understood by the conservative forces. I am encouraged by your reading that we are in fact boxing them in : )