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MAIN COMMITTEE

PARAGRAPH 8.25: When the Chair, Nicolaas Biegman, reopened the debate on his text for paragraph 8.25, delegates took the floor to identify problems they had with the text.

Slovakia, supported by Malta and El Salvador, expressed difficulty with the "need for abortion" and suggested it be replaced with "to address situations which cause women to have recourse to abortion." Malta suggested that the reference to unsafe abortion be retained if a footnote was attached, containing the WHO definition of unsafe abortions. Afghanistan, Tanzania, Indonesia and El Salvador asked that the reference to unsafe abortion be deleted. Several delegates said that abortion should be referred to as an "important" rather than "major" public health concern.

The reference to "legal abortion" was one that also gave rise to heated debate. Malta expressed difficulties since a State cannot be expected to legalize something it considers illegal. Afghanistan, Guam and Honduras asked that reference to legal abortion be deleted. Guatemala said that to have legal abortion was tantamount to having legal robbery or legal rape. On the other hand, Zambia said that keeping the reference to legal abortion was their rock bottom position. Brazil offered compromise language by referring to "cases and circumstances where abortion is not penalized." Ecuador could not go along with the new draft and Argentina said that it should reflect on the fundamental right to life as a human right.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Cyprus, supported by Canada, highlighted some of the amendments he had made on pre- and post-abortion counselling that had not been taken into account. Canada said that if the text was open to comments by those countries who oppose abortion, the views of others should also be reflected. Cyprus suggested an amendment calling on national governments and relevant IGOs and NGOs to deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion and to address women's health issues. Norway said that the text is carefully crafted and balanced. The Holy See said the text has taken into account ethical considerations and the sensitivities of others.

CHAPTER IX -- POPULATION DISTRIBUTION, URBANIZATION AND INTERNAL MIGRATION: The Chair noted that the text in paragraph 9.9 had brackets around "the indigenous people[s]." Australia proposed addressing this later, since it is currently being examined in the parallel discussions on Principles. Likewise, paragraph 9.22, with the bracketed terms "reproductive health services and family planning," was not considered since it will be dealt with in Chapter VII.

A considerable amount of time was spent discussing the bracketed text "[nationally and internationally]" in paragraph 9.25. The Chair initially announced that the delegation most interested in including these terms at PrepCom III has withdrawn its proposal, so the phrase could be deleted. Several alternative phrases were proposed. Brazil, supported by Canada, Guatemala, the US, Austria and others, proposed "at the national level with international cooperation." Colombia, supported by Argentina, sought to add to the Brazilian proposal, "for the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of state." Ethiopia, supported by Rwanda and others, stated that international cooperation should be at the request of the State. Haiti wanted to retain the phrase "international measures." India and Croatia wanted to delete the bracketed text, but Cyprus wanted to retain it. Austria added a reference to the UN Charter. The US suggested reference to relevant UN resolutions. Consensus was finally achieved and the text reads: "at the national level with international cooperation, as appropriate, in accordance with the UN Charter."

CHAPTER X -- INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION: The first brackets appeared in paragraph 10.3, "to ensure the [human] rights of [individuals belonging to] minorities, and indigenous people are respected." Delegates made a variety of proposals before Algeria proposed language from a 1992 UN General Assembly Resolution: "to ensure that the rights of persons belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and indigenous people are respected." After further discussion, delegates agreed to accept this proposal.

In paragraph 10.12, the "right to family reunification" was bracketed. Many G-77 delegates wanted to delete the brackets and recognize this right. Canada, Australia, Switzerland and the US commented that their commitment to the objective of family reunification is clear, however, their Governments retain the ability to define family and limit the number of family members. These countries also thought that family reunification is sufficiently covered in paragraph 10.13. Three compromises were proposed: Austria suggested "in accordance with national legislation," Guatemala suggested replacing "right" with "principle," and Brazil proposed "promote family reunification." Since neither the EU nor the G-77 were in a position to accept these compromises, the Chair suspended further discussion and asked interested delegations to work out a compromise.

In paragraph 10.13 (rights of documented migrants), the word "age" was bracketed. At PrepCom III, the Philippines had asked for this word, since migration patterns are often discriminatory based on age, and Australia had insisted on the brackets. The Philippines suggested deleting "age" and adding a new phrase at the end of the sentence: "including the special needs of children and the elderly." This formulation was approved.

In paragraph 10.20, the phrase "in accordance with international law" was bracketed, when referring to human rights protection. The US proposed, and Cuba amended, alternative text, which was accepted. It now reads: "in accordance with relevant international instruments." The brackets in paragraph 10.25 remain until agreement is reached on Chapter VII.

CHAPTER XI -- EDUCATION, POPULATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The Chair, Amb. Lionel Hurst (Antigua and Barbuda), indicated that the paragraphs that deal with fertility regulation and sexual and reproductive health would not be addressed until the issue is resolved in Chapter VII.

The brackets were quickly removed in paragraph 11.2 after Canada suggested referring to respect for the cultural and religious backgrounds of migrants. On paragraph 11.4, the delegates had to choose between an original and an alternative draft. Uganda said that the new draft deals better with the interests of both developed and developing countries and the issue of rural-urban migration and the "brain drain." After an amendment proposed by Chile, which calls for a harmonious development of educational systems, was accepted, the alternative draft was adopted.

The discussion then turned to paragraph 11.23, dealing with the use of entertainment programmes as a means to encourage public discussion of topics related to the implementation of the Programme of Action. There was lengthy debate on the point of knowing whether the use of such programmes should be "greater," "appropriate," "better," "effective," or "with greater effectiveness." Algeria, supported by the EU, Jamaica and Austria, asked whether this was really a substantial point and suggested that compromise language be adopted in order to move along. Delegates agreed on "greater and effective."

CHAPTER XIII -- NATIONAL ACTION: The Chair pointed out that bracketed text in paragraphs 13.1, 13.9 (c), 13.10, 13.12, 13.13 and 13.14 (a) and (b) could be skipped, since they are pending discussion elsewhere. Delegates spent a long time deliberating on paragraph 13.15, which deals with estimates and allocation of programme costs that were bracketed. Many delegations commented on the figures and the components in brackets and several amendments were made. Debate revolved around whether these figures were estimates and, if so, whether these were workable estimates. There were amendments and amendments to amendments.

The EU suggested an addition in the chapeau saying that these are indicative cost estimates of four components and are calculated in different ways by experts. Algeria and others asked whether the estimates had been carefully studied. The Secretariat reported that these were estimates related to the development of projections on family planning because that is where much of the research has been done with the assumption that these would be expanded into other services later. Guatemala wanted a heading earmarked for education and Chile wanted to include a focus on population education. Zimbabwe suggested removing the brackets and keeping the components. The US suggested some modifications to the EU amendment and also proposed deleting sub-paragraphs (a)-(d). The Chair pointed out that this latter proposal, which was similar to the Mexican one, would not be acceptable because it would in effect remove agreed-upon text.

Norway recommended using rounded figures rather than detailed ones that gave the impression of being precise and added that the figures should reflect the shift from family planning to reproductive health. The EU, supported by the US, read a second amendment that was a modification of its original one. The US wanted to substitute in the text "in the order of" instead of "up to." The Chair suggested that the interested parties work out acceptable language for a footnote to be presented on Thursday and meet in order to discuss the figures.

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