Saturday, March 2, 2013

The informals have started!

On Thursday February 28 the negotiations (“informals”) on the Agreed Conclusions of the CSW57 started. The first draft of the text, published 8 February, counted only 7 pages. After all governments added their amendments in the last weeks, the document is now a staggering 33 pages long. 

Here is an indication of what the political landscape looks like:

As every year, the European Union negotiates as a block. This means they speak with one voice, also on gender equality and sexual and reproductive health. However, this year they have split up (“broken”) on language referring to reproductive rights. Malta, Hungary and Poland have left this group, which has enabled other countries to add a strong and crucial paragraph to the text:  

9 quat. [Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom ADD: The Commission recognizes that protecting and fulfilling the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls is a necessary condition to achieve gender equality, to enable all women to enjoy all human rights, and to prevent and mitigate violence against women and girls.]

During the negotiations Italy, Spain, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic also joined this group. Other strong allies for progressive language are Turkey (yes!), Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Iceland, Argentina, Uruguay, Norway, Colombia, and Switzerland. Hurray for them!

Unsurprisingly, there have also been some developments among conservative governments.

Egypt is the spokesperson for a group comprised of 17 like-minded countries consisting of members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (IOC). The group is comprised of a.o. Algeria, Bahrain, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Kuwait, Libya. Unexpected members are Indonesia and Bangladesh. Though the group will negotiate as a block on issues they have agreed to, many countries continue to also speak for themselves. This group has adopted the disrupting strategy of generally being difficult, asking for many clarifications and causing delays.

The Holy See, up to their usual business, has asked for the deletion of all references to gender, opposes references to sexual violence, and of course all language on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). What really blows my mind, is that even though they are only “observers” to the process, the Vatican has managed to be the first asking for amendments to the text. Already in the very first sentence they are not content, wanting only to "remember" the Beijing Platform for Action, which continues to be so vital for the recognition of gender equality!

1. The Commission on the Status of Women [Holy See DELETE: reaffirms] [Holy See ADD: recalls] the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the outcome documents of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, and the declarations adopted by the Commission on the occasion of the tenth and fifteenth anniversaries of the Fourth World Conference on Women.

The African Group, who played a mayor role in the opposition especially 2 years ago, is divided. South Africa, Zambia and Kenya are strong allies for gender equality and reproductive rights. Others in the group opposing such language are Swaziland, Cameroon and Ghana. Other countries to watch out for are Nicaragua and Chile, and the members of CARICOM from the Caribbean community, for which Barbados is spokesperson.

 = Joni van de Sand =  


Lin McDevitt-Pugh said...

Dank je Joni! Ik blijf jullie volgen!

Gea Meijers said...

Thank you Joni, for the informative update! Will keep on reading, Gea

Talat Pasha said...

Thank you for the very informative report.It makes it easy for us now to understand who is being difficult and which countries are all out for Equal rights etc. Will now keep watching for more comments as the days pass.I am attending the CSW and hope we do not have last years debacle!!

Michelle Cressida said...

I am new to this detail although we sent letters to Lynne Featherstone and MPs this year and last and find it all very informative and revealing

Michelle Cressida said...

Actually it is her mother Billie Wealleans SI Scotland North posting this. Hmmm my computer!!!