Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference
Governments convened from 11-17 December 2002 in Bangkok, Thailand for the Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference to review the population and development situation in the Asia and Pacific region and identify the challenges faced in implementing the actions agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.
During the ministerial segment held from 16-17 December, delegates adopted a Plan of Action targeted at poverty reduction, with recommendations on matters such as migration and urbanization, population ageing, gender equality, equity and empowerment of women, reproductive rights and reproductive health, adolescent reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.
The meeting began with a senior officials segment, which considered a gamut of issues, ranging from population and poverty to fertility levels, trends and their policy implications. This preparatory segment addressed adolescent reproductive health, examining factors that influence sexual and reproductive behavior of youth in the region, such as inadequate access to information, availability of and access to youth-friendly health services, peer pressure and gender power imbalances. The meeting also looked at the current situation of the elderly population and discussed policies and programmes for supporting the elderly population with respect to health care, housing and income security. Participants further examined the role of “informed free choice” in providing family planning programmes, considered the HIV/AIDS situation, reviewed improvements made in women's status, and addressed the role of “behavioral change communication and advocacy,” and information and communications technology as tools for population and development and poverty reduction.
Discussions on reproductive health, including family planning, proved to be contentious. The US delegation voiced its anti-abortion position, opposing terms such as “reproductive health services” and “reproductive rights,” stating that these could be interpreted as advocating abortion. The US's anti-abortion stance was made clear during the World Summit on Sustainable Development on language related to health, and was further emphasized in the Bush administration's recent blocking of $34 million in funds appropriated by Congress for the UN Population Fund. Lack of consensus on language concerning reproductive health brought two chapters of the proposed Plan of Action to a vote – one on reproductive health and rights, the other on adolescent reproductive health. The US was defeated on both votes by 31-1 and 32-1, and the proposed text was adopted. The US agreed to adopt the Plan, but made reservations stating that “reproductive rights, reproductive health, reproductive health care and services, family planning services, and sexual health should not be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion or abortion-related services or the use of abortifacients.”
The Plan of Action calls on member countries to “strengthen reproductive health policies and implement comprehensive integrated reproductive health care including family planning services, throughout the health care system…focusing on the impoverished and other vulnerable groups.”
Links to further information
Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference website
Canada News Wire, 18 December 2002
New York Times, 17 December 2002
Third Meeting of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy
29 November 2002: The Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (GFSE) convened for its third meeting from 27-29 November 2002 in Graz, Austria.
The meeting addressed public-private partnerships for rural energy development, examined the relevant outcomes of the WSSD and discussed further development of initiatives to promote implementation, such as the EU initiative on Energy for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development.
The IISD RS Sustainable Developments report outlining these discussions in detail can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/download/pdf/sd/sdvol78num1.pdf
2002 International Parliamentarians' Conference on the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development
Over 100 parliamentarians from 70 countries met at the Canadian Parliament to identify actions to safeguard women's reproductive rights, improve access to reproductive health services (including family planning), reduce maternal mortality and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The meeting resulted in a Statement of Commitment that outlines specific domestic actions. For more information visit: http://www.unfpa.org/news/2002/pressroom/ottawa-toc.htm
UNFPA WORKSHOP ON CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Highlighting the role of women in rebuilding war-torn communities, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organized a five-day workshop to assist women's NGOs from around the world in dealing with conflict or post-conflict situations.
The outcomes included, management and organizational skills training, and increased awareness about conflict resolution, project development and monitoring, budgeting and administration of programmes, and fundraising, including drafting donor proposals. For more information visit: http://www.unfpa.org/news/2002/pressroom/womensgroups.htm
THE MICROCREDIT SUMMIT +5
Over 2,000 delegates representing over 100 countries attended the Microcredit Summit +5 in New York.
Participants convened in Plenary and breakout sessions and 13 day-long courses throughout the Summit. Discussions focused on six newly commissioned papers presented in a book entitled “Pathways Out of Poverty: Innovations in Microfinance for the Poorest Families.” Outcomes include the presentation of Institutional Action Plans and the release of the most extensive directory of microcredit institutions produced to date. For more information visit: http://www.microcreditsummit.org/
Fourth Mediterranean Development Forum
October 2002: The Fourth Mediterranean Development Forum (MDF4), organized by the World Bank, UNDP and Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) think tanks, convened in Amman, Jordan, from 6-9 October 2002.
Over 500 participants from think tanks, NGOs, media, government, and the private sector from across the Middle East and North Africa region met to discuss regional issues, including trade and investment, employment and local government empowerment. Special sessions and workshops addressed corporate governance, civil society and globalization, as well as improvements in education, as well as the status of women and youth. For more information visit: http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/mdf/mdf4/index.html
WORLD SUMMIT ON THE INFORMATION SOCIETY PREPCOM I
The first preparatory meeting for the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was held from 1-5 July 2002 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Over 800 delegates from 133 countries were in attendance. Participants heard general statements and presentations on global Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) development initiatives throughout the session, and on the final day, engaged in informal meetings to identify synergies stemming from the PrepCom and adopted a subcommittee report outlining rules and procedures. The subcommittee on content and themes for the WSIS did not complete its work, with several issues associated with the themes remaining unaddressed. Several delegates proposed holding an informal meeting prior to the second preparatory committee meeting to finalize the development of themes for WSIS. The date for the second preparatory meeting is to be determined. For more information visit: http://www.itu.int/wsis/
Sixth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
19 April 2002: The sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-6) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took place from 7-19 April 2002, at the Netherlands Congress Centre in The Hague.
Approximately 2000 participants attended, representing 176 governments, as well as UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), indigenous and local community organizations, and others. Delegates to COP-6 considered and adopted 36 decisions on the following substantive topics: forest biodiversity; alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats and species; identification, monitoring, indicators and assessments; the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI); the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC); the ecosystem approach; sustainable use; incentive measures; liability and redress; progress on ecosystem themes; access and benefit-sharing (ABS); the strategic plan, national reporting, CBD operations, and the multi-year work programme; financial resources and mechanism; scientific and technical cooperation and the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM); education and public awareness; cooperation with other conventions and international initiatives; a contribution to the ten-year review of Agenda 21; and Article 8(j) on traditional knowledge. A High Level Segment on the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), including a Ministerial Round Table, and a multi-stakeholder dialogue were convened during the second week of the meeting.
COP-6 was arguably the busiest COP to date, with afternoon and evening contact groups throughout. Despite contentious debates, the COP's highlights included adoption of a revised forest work programme, the Bonn Guidelines on ABS, the Strategic Plan and guiding principles for alien species. The meeting also served as an opportunity to review the Convention's activities in light of the upcoming WSSD and the long-term Strategic Plan. In addition to the substantive discussions, procedural questions were raised about the correlation of the Ministerial Declaration with the COP's decision on forest biodiversity, as well as the decision-making procedures regarding consensus and adoption of the guiding principles over the objections of some countries. Despite these concerns, most delegates noted the significant amount of work accomplished by COP-6, which sets the stage for national and intersessional activities in the lead up to COP-7.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report outlining these discussions in detail can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/vol09/enb09239e.html
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
The sixtieth session of this UN Committee took place from 4-22 March 2002 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Committee examined the situations in Switzerland, Lithuania, Croatia, Austria, Qatar, Moldova, Denmark, Belgium, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Liechtenstein with regard to their implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, based on country reports presented. The Committee also examined the situation in Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Turkmenistan, whose periodic reports were overdue.
The Committee issued a statement in which it stressed that measures taken to fight terrorism should not derogate human rights, and adopted a General Recommendation on the follow-up to the 2001 World Conference against Racism, in which it recommended measures to strengthen implementation of the Convention and the functioning of the Committee. For more information visit: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2002/rd971.doc.htm
46th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
15 March 2002: This meeting was held from 4-15 March 2002 at UN Headquarters in New York. The session's themes were the eradication of poverty, including through women's empowerment, and the incorporation of the gender perspective in the mitigation of natural disasters.
The Commission adopted conclusions on these themes, as well as on women and children hostages in armed conflicts, gender equality and women's empowerment as important strategies to eradicate poverty, and the involvement of all sectors of society in pursuing gender equality and gender-sensitive environmental management and disaster reduction, response and recovery as an integral part of sustainable development.
Although delegates were unable to agree on a draft resolution on women and girls in Afghanistan, the text was subsequently approved during an additional meeting of the Commission held on 25 March. The resolution urges the Afghan Interim Authority and future Afghan Transitional Authority to: fully respect the equal human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls in accordance with international human rights law; give high priority to the issue of ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; consider signing its Optional Protocol, which gives individuals the right to bring their concerns to the Convention's monitoring body; and undertake a series of steps aimed at improving the quality of life for Afghan women and girls.
For more information visit: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2002/WOM1333.doc.htm
International Conference on Environmental Threats to the Health of Children - Hazards and Vulnerability
This conference took place from 3-7 March 2002 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Organized by the World Health Organization and attended by over 300 scientists from 50 countries, the conference sought to address new scientific data and research results on the special vulnerability of children to environmental hazards and to increase awareness of different sectors about children's environmental health issues. The conference included sessions on: water, food and disease; air, climate and disease; injuries, poisonings and radiations; development disorders; and the protection of children's environmental health. Other issues addressed in these sessions included children's exposure to pesticides, organic pollutants, tobacco smoke, radiation and climate change. The participating researchers drew attention to various problems, including the health risks faced by children scavenging in waste dumps, and sought to find solutions for making the environment safe for children in their homes, schools and work places, highlighting the benefits of, for example, removing lead from gasoline. For more information visit: http://www.who.int/peh/ceh/Bangkok/bangkokconf.htm
AD HOC COMMITTEE ON AN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION AGAINST REPRODUCTIVE CLONING OF HUMAN BEINGS
The Ad Hoc Committee on an International Convention Against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings met for the first time from 25 February to 1 March 2002 at UN Headquarters in New York.
The Committee debated the mandate for the negotiation of an international convention on the issue, and a report summarizing countries' views was produced as the outcome of the meeting. Participants agreed that the convention should ban reproductive cloning, but diverged on whether therapeutic cloning, or the cloning of embryos for the purposes of scientific and medical research, including stem cell research, should also be banned. The US, the Holy See and Spain preferred an absolute ban on human cloning, while some other countries, including Russia, China, Japan and Brazil, favored allowances for therapeutic cloning. On the way forward, the former countries preferred negotiations on the full scope of issues rather than what they described as a "partial" or "false" ban, while the latter proposed that the Committee start by focusing on a universal ban on reproductive cloning of humans, in order not to threaten the process by raising issues on which no consensus currently exists. The Committee will meet again in September and will seek to produce a recommendation to the UN General Assembly on the mandate for further negotiations on this issue. More information on this meeting is available online at: http://www.un.org/law/cloning/index.html
PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR THE SECOND WORLD ASSEMBLY ON AGEING
The second session of the Commission on Social Development acting as the Preparatory Committee for the upcoming Second World Assembly on Ageing met from 25 February to 1 March 2002 at UN Headquarters in New York.
The PrepCom considered, and transmitted to the Assembly, a draft Declaration and International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002. The International Plan of Action will replace that agreed at the First World Assembly on Ageing in 1982, and reflect the demographic changes that have taken place over the past 20 years, with a burgeoning population of persons aged 60 years or older. It will call for changes in attitudes, policies and practices at all levels in all sectors, so that the potential of ageing in the twenty-first century can be fulfilled. The Second World Assembly on Ageing will be held from 8-12 April 2002 in Madrid, Spain. For more information visit: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2002/SOC4600.doc.htm
Conference of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights
22 February 2002: The Conference on "How Intellectual Property Rights Could Work Better for Developing Countries and Poor People" took place from 21-22 February 2002, at the Royal Society in London, UK.
The conference, organized by the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR), was attended by approximately 220 participants from governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and representatives of the scientific, academic and private sectors. The conference addressed seven major themes, including: agriculture and genetic resources; traditional knowledge and folklore; copyright in developing countries; technology, development and intellectual property rights (IPR); medicines and vaccines; research tools, gene patenting and public-private partnerships; and international institutions, rules and practices, and capacity building.
The IISD RS Sustainable Developments report outlining these discussions in detail can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/sd/sdipr/
40TH SESSION OF THE UN COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
The 40th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development met from 12-21 February 2002 at UN Headquarters in New York.
The theme of the session was integration of social and economic policy. In spite of extending the meeting beyond its scheduled finish, the Commission failed to reach agreement on the outcome document, and will meet for an additional day at a date to be announced. More information on this meeting is available online at: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2002/SOC4597.doc.htm
SECOND WORLD SOCIAL FORUM
The second World Social Forum took place from 31 January to 5 February 2002 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, as a counter-point to the World Economic Forum, which was held at the same time in New York (see below).
Twenty-six thousand delegates attended, with up to 60,000 unregistered participants also taking part, representing activists and intellectuals offering alternatives to the current world order. The Forum, which aims to help build a world based on solidarity, social justice and participatory political democracy, focused on four main themes: production of wealth; access to wealth and sustainability; civil society and the public realm; and power, politics and ethics. Participants attended numerous panel discussions and workshops on issues ranging from international trade to principles and values. They voiced criticism of the US, and US dominance of the international arena through organizations such as the World Bank and IMF. The Forum ended with a march to protest the Free Trade Area of the Americas. More information on this meeting is available online at: http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/eng/index.asp
26TH SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
The 26th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women met from 14 January to 1 February 2002 at UN Headquarters in New York.
During this session, the Committee considered reports from eight states - Fiji, Iceland, Estonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Portugal, Russian Federation and Sri Lanka - and made recommendations for the advancement of women in these countries. The Committee also made statements on solidarity with the women of Afghanistan and on ending discrimination against older women. More information on this meeting is available online at: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2002/WOM1319.doc.htm
PREPARATORY YOUTH FORUM FOR THE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT SUMMIT
This Forum took place from 30-31 January 2002 in New York.
The meeting convened in preparation for the September 2002 Youth Employment Summit, to be held in Alexandria, Egypt. The Forum gathered 35 youth leaders aged between 18 and 30 from over 20 countries, and included a briefing of UN Ambassadors and a reception for leaders of various institutions hosted at the Synergos Institute. The youth leaders also participated in a two-day workshop where they developed actions plans to establish Youth Employment Summit Country Networks. More information on this meeting is available online at: http://www.youthemploymentsummit.org/campaign/events.html