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INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS OF THE WHOLE (ICW)

The ICW met yesterday to discuss the first three cluster papers prepared by the Secretariat. The ICPD Secretariat stated that PC/11 had not been replaced by the cluster papers but that they were being tabled to solicit guidance from the delegates on the five proposed clusters of issues. The Secretariat explained that the papers were not exhaustive but had been an attempt to stimulate discussion.

Cluster 1: Interrelationships between population, development, environment and related matters: Colombia said that the paper had too much emphasis on environmental concerns and lacked focus on the problems of development. He also expressed the G-77 decision that PC/11 should be the basis for negotiation. Canada stressed the links needed between population activities and the Commission on Sustainable Development and greater inter-agency links to environment and development through the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development. India, supported by Ghana, stated that focus of the Conference should not be lost and that other matters should be negotiated in appropriate fora. Sweden mentioned the inter-relationships and cross-cutting aspects within this cluster and the need for strategies based on the individual and developed from the bottom-up. Zimbabwe spoke of the lack of emphasis on employment in the document. France mentioned the lack of reference to the conflict between the rights of the individual and those of the community. The UK asked why the cluster themes in Agenda 21 were not referenced and urged reaffirmation of commitments made at UNCED. The Holy See emphasized the importance of people and human resource development and that the elimination of poverty can be brought about through education and not necessarily through the reduction of population growth. Pakistan said that linkages of population and development must be strengthened and supported the example of Agenda 21 where the problems were placed within the context of the larger international economic environment with specific reference to means of implementation in each chapter.

Cluster 2: [Gender issues, particularly] the role and status of women: Colombia, on behalf of the G-77, stated that a more systematic and focussed approach was needed in the chapter and that some of the strategies read more like principles. They proposed a separate chapter on the family. They later added that women, as victims of aggression during war, must be protected. Several countries recommended that a reference to prostitution be included in the cluster. Sweden, supported by Malaysia, suggested a change in the title to reflect gender equality for women and added that the issues of genital mutilation and the minimum age of marriage be included. Malaysia suggested that the empowerment of the girl child and facilities for the employment of women be included. Norway noted the linkages between population and breast-feeding. The US agreed with Sweden that questions of gender equity should be central to the chapter and supported gender equality in school attendance and in institutions; an end to pornography and violence against women; and the negative stereotypes of women's roles in society. The WHO emphasized the importance of contraceptive research.

Cluster 3: Reproductive rights, reproductive health and family planning [including maternal and infant mortality, abortion, AIDS, STD and adolescents]: India noted the lack of linkages between the many points consolidated in this cluster. Argentina supported India and suggested that the title be left as in PC/11 since abortion is not a family planning measure. This suggestion was later echoed by Switzerland, Brazil, Algeria, Iran, and the Holy See. Switzerland supported India's suggestion that Cluster 3 lacks structure in the strategies section and that there is no visible or logical articulation between the strategies. France stated that reproductive health cannot be taken in isolation from general health. Brazil suggested that morbidity rates be included and that family planning assistance should be delivered in the context of family health programmes. This brought up the reference to the reproductive rights of "individuals" and many countries, including Algeria, Colombia, and the Holy See felt that this should be replaced by "couples" or "individuals and couples," as was agreed to in Bucharest. The US called for reference to condoms and vasectomy in the male strategy section. Sweden suggested the use of the WHO definition of reproductive rights for the heading and that safe and legal abortion should be an option as a back-up to failed contraception. Sweden also stressed the needs of adolescents, and the importance of sex education and breast-feeding. The Holy See said that abortion should not be mentioned in the context of family planning and that infant mortality can be related to, but not necessarily caused by, high fertility rates. Ghana, on a lighter note, wondered what would happen to the abortion issue if men could get pregnant. Belgium stressed the importance of recognizing the variation in family forms and, in response to Iran, explained that there were many one-parent, unmarried or physically separated families in Belgium.

NGO Interventions during the ICW: In an unprecedented move, NGOs were allowed to speak during the informal session. The Women's Caucus suggested that the primary focus in Cluster 1 should be to enhance the quality of life; that nations recommit to actions in Rio, including reaching 0.7% of GNP for ODA by 2000. For Cluster 2, they supported a change in the title to reflect gender equity and the need to close the gap between male and female literacy. On Cluster 3, they stated that women have the right to decide when and how to have a child free from coercion and with universal access to safe abortion services. The Four Directions Council called for a separate chapter on indigenous peoples. The Disabled People's International noted the lack of reference to disabled people.

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