ENB:06:32 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

MAIN COMMITTEE

The Main Committee convened for the first time at 4:00 pm Monday afternoon. The Chair, Dr. Fred Sai (Ghana), opened the session and urged delegates to agree on a document that will produce music that is harmonious enough for the media, rather than the cacophony they have been spreading. He asked delegates to please forget everything they have read in the press and to read the full document. He also urged delegates to restrict themselves to debate on text where agreement has not been reached.

Sai announced that agreement has been reached on the composition of the bureau: Amb. Lionel Hurst (Antigua and Barbuda); Nicolaas Biegman (The Netherlands); Dr. Bal G. Baidya (Nepal) and Jerzy Holzer (Poland), who will also serve as the rapporteur.

The Chair attempted to begin the substantive work of the Committee. He announced that during the intersessional period informal consultations on outstanding matters were held in New York and he asked the coordinators to report their results. Canada reported on an informal meeting on 13 July to discuss the two chapters not negotiated at PrepCom III: Preamble and Principles. Delegates agreed that the Preamble should be shortened and serve as an introduction to the Programme of Action. With regard to the Principles, participants agreed that there should be fewer principles, which should be reordered and merged. Language from other documents and treaties should be quoted accurately and in context. The right to development does not receive enough emphasis and the relationship to population and development should also reflect environmental protection.

Indonesia reported on the consultations on goals, which took place on 14 July. He elaborated on the quantitative goals: education; reduction in child and maternal mortality; and access to reproductive health and family planning. The goals should be attainable, realistic and consider the situation in each country.

The Netherlands reported on the consultations on resources, which met on 15 July and focused on the cost estimates in Chapter 13. It was agreed that there were no better figures available. There was a brief discussion of the 20:20 Compact, but participants agreed that it should be refined further and brought forward at the Social Summit in Copenhagen.

CHAPTER I -- PREAMBLE: During the discussion, several procedural debacles slowed the Committee's progress. The Chair proposed that a small "informal-informal" group meet and develop a "non-paper" on the Preamble and Principles. Several delegates expressed concern. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, said that the position of the G-77 has always been that the proliferation of working groups raises problems for small delegations. These discussions should take place in a clear, transparent framework. Sai said that this informal-informal could meet when the Main Committee is not meeting. Since a number of delegates wanted to do a first reading of the document in the Main Committee, the Chair asked for comments on the Preamble.

Both the G-77 and the EU circulated written proposals on the Preamble and the Principles. The meeting was suspended for 15 minutes to allow delegations to review the texts. When the meeting reconvened, problems immediately developed as various G-77 members proposed amendments to the G-77 draft text. The Chair and Algeria appealed to delegates to consult with the G-77 Chair before presenting amendments. Each time the Chair tried to move the discussion forward, procedural debate crept in. Finally, the Chair announced that he would consult with various delegations and produce a new document.

CHAPTER II -- PRINCIPLES: Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, introduced a new draft of Chapter II with a few amendments. The EU acknowledged this new draft, but said that he needed time to consult with his group. A number of G-77 members then proposed amendments to the draft and Algeria had to note that the text had been already endorsed by the Group.

Mali expressed some reservation with regard to Principle 5, which calls for an end to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, since some developing countries might have problems meeting this goal.

Iran suggested that in Principle 7 of the G-77 text, the reference to individuals should be deleted. El Salvador suggested that the word "individuals" be replaced with "persons." Honduras suggested an amendment to Principle 7 that would reiterate the universal right to life, liberty and security of the person.

On Principle 8, China suggested adding "without any form of coercion" and deleting the reference to some specific forms of coercion. Algeria answered that Principle 8 should not be discussed, but considered in brackets until the issues it deals with are addressed in the discussion of Chapters 7 and 8. The Philippines and Pakistan agreed that the phrase "sexual and" be deleted in the reference to the right to health care services. The Philippines, supported by Indonesia, said that abortion should in no way be considered a method of family planning.

The Holy See said that this set of principles should also refer to the duty that the international community has in matters of human rights violations. El Salvador suggested that the rights provided in Principle 1 should be balanced with matching duties and that Principle 10 should make clear that the family is the basic unit of society. Iran asked that the reference to various forms of the family be deleted in Principle 10.

The US suggested a series of amendments on the principal objective of the Programme of Action, gender equity and equality, migrants, indigenous communities and references to sustainable development. The Chair asked the US to submit these amendments in writing.

Benin stressed that the Committee needs to improve its working methods and begin a paragraph-by-paragraph discussion. Belize and Malawi made some amendments to the G-77 proposal and South Africa expressed the desire to see due recognition of the sovereign rights of each nation referred to in the chapeau.

[Return to start of article]