'It could have been stronger, but it’s not bad’
This morning at 1am, a round of applause and some cheers erupted from one of the rooms in the UN Headquarters: the resolution on Working Methods for CSW had been adopted. Together with approximately 30 civil society representatives we have been waiting, supporting our delegates and lobbying from the other side of the door of the negotiation room.
Up to 10pm last night, the positions of countries could not have been further apart. It seemed very unlikely that any agreement would be reached on the 25 paragraphs in the resolution that still needed to be discussed. A few countries were holding firm on opposing references to three key issues for us as civil society: Human Rights, gender equality and participation of civil society. With the other countries holding firm on the inclusion of these three issues, a compromise seemed not in sight. Until… a break was proposed by the Swiss moderator. And with increased pressure to adopt the resolution before this morning it was just 3 hours later that a very tired but relieved bunch of people left the negotiation room.
So what is the harvest?
Overall, the general feeling amongst civil society is that it could have been stronger on several issues that we have been pushing for, but that in general it is not bad. Looking at the previous Working Methods from 2006, we have made some small steps forward.
Positive is the mentioning of Human Rights in several parts, which means they are recognized as a framework that runs through the CSW, rather than it being just one critical area of the Beijing agenda. Also, there is a mechanism adopted that reviews the implementation of past Agreed Conclusions of the CSW, which is new to the Working Methods. And although the norm-setting role of CSW has not made it into the Working Methods, a paragraph that restricted UNWomen’s mandate to only the CSW has been removed.
On the other hand there is some disappointment on how civil society participation has made it into the final Working Methods. Our participation is captured in several places in the document. Summarizing: it officially affirms the space that civil society has had in CSW. Deliver statements and take place in panels. Which is positive in the way that it ‘holds the line’ in a world where civil society is suffering from a shrinking political space. But the disappointment is about how we had pushed for more participation and our voice to be heard in the negotiations. Unfortunately, our inclusion in interactive dialogues are now fixed in the Working Methods with the reference ‘at the end of the general discussion’. Which is a bit late in the day (or in Dutch: mosterd na de maaltijd).
Also disappointing is that gender equality has been mentioned throughout, except for one strongly debated paragraph. A paragraph about emerging issues (such as climate change, violent extremisms, etc.). The eventual phrase that is being used is ‘equality between women and men’. This is disappointing as CSW’s core business is achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
To close on a positive note: there are quite strong references to the Post-2015 Agenda. Though references to the SDGs have not made it. A new final paragraph was even added yesterday evening that states that the Commission should review its Working Methods next year, to align them with the Post-2015 Development Agenda. This agenda will be adopted in September this year.
And… no reference is made as to when the final document of CSW should be adopted. Once and for all: the home for negotiations is the two weeks of the duration of CSW. Not the weeks before. Just so that we’re clear on that…!
=Sanne Holtslag on behalf of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform=