Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday - observations on the first day of "real" negotiations

At the end of the second day, two confusing sentiments co-exist:

There are some who are saying: “The negotiations have always been about looking at the future – now a lot of energy is spent on defending what has been agreed in the past. This is frustrating. This is supposed to be a transformative moment, instead we are barely holding the line.”

Then there are others who are saying: “The atmosphere is still very good in the negotiation room. Last year around this time there was already a lot of tension. In fact, it is so calm – it kinda makes you wonder whether something is going on that we do not know about yet, and will be surprised by at the last moment…”

So, let’s just have a look at some of the central elements around the negotiations:

There is a lot to do about the right to development. The sentiment of “Southern” countries is that “when we have to give something, you also have to give something.” Until the “North” gives in a bit on issues related to the current global macro-economic system which perpetuates inequalities (such as on climate change, financing, sustainable patterns of consumption, trade agreements) the G77 countries - with an important role played by China - will not push for women’s human rights language.

Another contentuous issue regards language about family. The stance of women’s rights activists is very clear: we would rather have no family mentioned at all if the diversity of families is not acknowledged. During the briefing of the EU delegation for NGOs, it was clear that we can find a strong ally in the EU: For the EU it is important that we dont talk of family in the sense that we dictate what it should look like. Family should be understood as diverse because the world is changing. We feel that you still have to see members of the family as individuals, because in the family a lot of ills in the world play out. For example domestic violence. We try to stick diversity.”

Two short notes on actors in the room:

The Holy See (Vatican) has been very focal in the room this year. Usually they are rather silent and work behind the schenes, through other countries speaking out. This year them speaking up according to many means that they must feel support to do so. I like to think that it is rather that they have to speak up themselves because others are not willing to do so for them ;)

Very good news is that South Africa is finally speaking out, and doing a good job at it supporting women’s rights language. Djibouti is no longer speaking on behalf of the African group. Like the EU the African Group has a joined position, and Djibouti was speaking on behalf of the whole group – but is said not to have consulted many countries in the group. Africa was, so tos peak “hijacked” by the conservative countries. This is now turning.

= Joni van de Sand, WO=MEN =