It's day 4 of the 48th CPD. This morning, the plenary session and negotiations were going on at the same time. Because the informal consultations were moved to a smaller room, only one person per country was allowed to participate in the negotiations. This generally is bad news: it is usually the Permanent Mission representatives that then head the negotiations and they have a tendency to care more about the diplomatic process than following laws, policies and commitments made by their government.
In the case of Malawi, for example, government is progressive when it comes to comprehensive sexuality education. This is also reflected by the comments that the Malawi Minister of Youth was making at our side event yesterday. However, the Permanent Mission representative on the Malawi delegation did not want the terminology on CSE to be in the Malawi country statement in plenary. You can only imagine what this means for negotiations: he will not speak up for comprehensive sexuality education in the resolution...
The African partners that Simavi brought to New York this week are getting more and more frustrated to see how the mission delegates from their respective countries are not respecting the earlier commitments made by their governments. As one of them said: ‘We have progressive and comprehensive laws and policies in our country. Why are they being ignored here? We are going backwards!’
By the end of the day, a new draft of the resolution by the facilitator came out. It seems like the references to the ‘Right to Development’ as well as a strong statement on ‘financing for development’ are getting a way in. Argentina proposed a separate paragraph on the acknowledgement that sexual rights are being protected in some countries; which of course is highly applauded by us and other SRHR advocates! However, the more contested paragraphs with references to CSE, SRHR, abortion and youth rights are still open and not being agreed on. The conservative states are trying get more conservative paragraphs on ‘family life’ in, as well as many references to sovereignty and ‘with respect to religious and cultural norms and values’ when it comes to SRHR issues.
Generally the opposition is quite present the past days; both in side events as well as in space in the Vienna café where CSOs meet. Our ‘hub ‘ (the coloured couches in the back of the Vienna Café) has been slowly infiltrated by grey men and sternly looking women who try to talk to African delegates in particular on the “danger of contraceptives”. The pro-life community seems to have a strong presence as well. Somebody even spotted them handing out small baby dolls (fetuses?) in plastic bags!! During the plenary this morning, only two CSOs were allowed to give their statements; a pro-life organisation being one of them...
Although the days are becoming longer and longer (and the nights consequently shorter and shorter), we remain full of energy to keep advocating for SRHR and specifically the rights of young people to be included!
Lara van Kouterik and Nienke Blauw from Simavi are attending the 48th CPD together with CSO partners from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda.