Today the "informals" start. The coming 2 days government delegations will be locked-up in a room going through the latest draft of the Agreed Conclusions paragraph by paragraph. They started this morning at 10:00, will pause for a break from 13:00-15:00, and expect it to be a long night going through all the 39 pages. The aim is to streamline the text, making it shorter by getting rid of repetitions. More importantly, this is the moment to see what different regions' and states' positions are. For example, the Vatican which last year proposed more amendments than any other member, has so far been silent.
Overall what's really at stake this year is not necessarily "gender" (gender equality) but women's human rights. Several countries aim to take language referring to women's human rights out, saying that the MDGs are a "development" agenda and do not deal with "rights". However the international Women's Rights Caucus, consisting of hundreds of activists from all around the world, are making the case that there can be no sustainable development without human rights. As does the UN:
In a recent panel discussion at the UN Human Rights Council, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that peace, development and human rights are inextricably linked. “Human rights are essential for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and advancing sustainable development. Today’s panel discussion on the post-2015 development framework, therefore, is most timely.” Ban noted that the UN Task Team on Post-2015 recommended that the new development agenda be built on three fundamental principles: human rights, equality and sustainability. He went on to urge all stakeholders “to ensure that international human rights standards and principles help guide our post-2015 goals and objectives.”
UN Women in its position paper on Post-2015:
"The need for a transformative goal on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment is grounded in the commitment by UN Member States to gender equality and advancing women’s rights. These commitments are enshrined in global treaties, most notably CEDAW; in policy commitments such as the Programme of Action agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 and the resulting Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and, more recently, the outcome of Rio+20; in relevant outcomes of the General Assembly (GA), including the Millennium Declaration which led to the creation of the MDGs; in the resolutions of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); and, in the agreed conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), including, most recently, on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls at CSW 57." (page 10)
Campaigners urge member states to include in the Agreed Conclusions a standalone goal on gender equality and women's empowerment in the post-2015 development goals. We are also calling for gender equality to become the mainstay for all other goals, and for the inclusion of strong language to underscore the importance of upholding women's rights in future agreements.
Fore more background information, read the article "Women's rights the focus as world leaders gather for New York talks in The Guardian.
= Joni van de Sand, WO=MEN =