Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 2 at the 47th CPD... first day of negotiations

It’s 9 pm, our fellow advocates just managed to get food into the UN to feed the hardworking advocates, and we are still on! As we lost one day yesterday with the suspension of the negotiations, we have to continue till late today.

The delegates gathered this morning at 10 am in the General Assembly, a big enough room to house all the delegates including their NGO representatives on the delegation. Negotiations started about the 14-page text that was laid on the table after the informals last week Thursday and Friday.

As it is now 9 pm, the delegates discussed eight Preambular Paragraphs, and have now reached the third Operation Paragraph. A short update, at a very general level, that does no right to all the complex dynamics in the different regions:

Unfortunately, several African countries have continued to resist the negotiated outcome document with substantive content. Their idea is that the document should only be a Procedural Resolution and should not include new commitments for instance on sexual rights, abortion, sexual orientation and gender identity and other sensitive issues. Countries that lead this conservative tone are Egypt, Nigeria and Cameroon. It’s very important that other African countries speak up, because there are many that are actually not conservative. Luckily this happened in the course of the day, when the delegations from Ghana and Swaziland did some progressive proposals. However, the tactic of the conservative countries at the moment seems to introduce so many new paragraphs, that negotiations are delayed and the document looses its strengths. 

The Holy See plays it predictable and usual role by rejecting anything that includes rights… especially sexual and reproductive rights, as they associate this with abortion. On the other hand, they are keen on including language on the 'family'. The Arab Group is very much on the same line. Egypt even got as far as challenging the whole basis and relevance of the CPD!

However, there are also brave and strong champions. These include South-Africa, Brazil and Argentina, as well as Philippines and Nepal. We are particularly pleased with that, as this shows that countries from the Global South propose progressive language and that SRHR is really not something that comes from the Global North.

As we advocates are enjoying our food, we have actually only one more hour to go before the delegates will call it a day. At the moment, the Netherlands (our own Hilde Kroes) is speaking on behalf of a great number of progressive countries in and outside Europe, to support their earlier proposed language on SRHR and the link with economic, environmental and social dimensions of development, and the link with post-2015. Keeping our fingers crossed!

by Rineke van Dam, Public Affairs Officer SRHR at Simavi