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BSWG-6
Sixth Meeting of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety
Cartagena, Colombia
14 - 19 February 1999

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Briefing

FRIDAY UPDATE: Following regional consultations, the Friends of the Chair began work on the text and is reportedly reviewing the Chair�s draft paragraph by paragraph and allowing delegates to state their positions. At 2:30 am, the Chair announced that the negotiations were halted for the night. The Friends of the Chair will reconviene at 11 am on Saturday.

THURSDAY RECAP: Confusion erupted when, 15 minutes after convening, the Friends of the Chair poured out of the meeting room, some announcing they were retiring to their hotels to await the release of a corrigendum. Complaints that the Chair's text did not reflect what had been agreed on, were countered by news that the wrong version had been circulated and studied by delegates throughout the afternoon. People pointed to missing sections, unexpected language, editorial errors and differences in articles provisionally adopted the night before.
As delegates awaited the corrigendum's arrival, rumors multiplied as to what had really happened. Some suggested that outdated texts had mistakenly been used to prepare the Chair's text, and wondered how such errors had slipped by. Some shrugged this off as not surprising considering the sleep deprivation of all involved and the multitude of contact groups dealing with interlinked articles. Others were not so generous in their judgements, alluding to possible delay tactics or "back door" attempts to push through controversial elements. Many participants complained that a whole day of negotiations had been lost, while others wandered around the conference center looking for official word from the Chair or products thereof.
Reflecting on the text, some said that while it was not ideal, they would not reject it and expressed confidence that agreement could be reached. Others thought the text failed to strike the necessary balance and did not accurately reflect an acceptable compromise, giving "crumbs to some and the rest of the cake to a few." Several participants commented that the Chair had taken a gamble with his text and it was not yet clear whether he had hit the jackpot.

Photos and Real Audio from 19 February

The Friends of the Chair met throughout the day behind closed doors.

The consecutive long nights were taking their toll on delegates and staff alike. People were seen sleeping throughout the Centro de Conveniones.

Interview with Melinda Kimble

ENB writers Chad Carpenter, Stas Burgiel and Joanna Depledge met with H.E Melinda Kimble, Head of the U.S. Delegation to discuss the biosafety negotitations.


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Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.