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MAIN COMMITTEE

In a day filled with stops and starts, the Main Committee waited for small working groups to reach consensus on the outstanding text and for the Secretariat to finish photocopying the various chapters. Nevertheless, consensus continued to prove elusive and when the Committee adjourned at 9:00 pm, numerous outstanding issues remained.

AMENDMENTS TO UNBRACKETED TEXT: In the morning the Chair, Fred Sai, convened an informal meeting to present the amendments to unbracketed text that the Friends of the Chair had approved. The first amendment was to paragraph 3.19, which deals with the underserved members of society. The word "relevant" was added before "reproductive rights," as was "as appropriate," after the reference to "children" in footnote 17. Ethiopia questioned how reproductive health could apply to toddlers or infants, but the Chair responded that there are medical circumstances where this is the case and that this is precisely why "where appropriate" should be retained. Liberia suggested keeping this reference in parentheses, but Egypt disagreed. Malaysia, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Zambia, Canada, Benin, Libya and The Gambia expressed their support.

In paragraph 4.9, "forced prostitution" was replaced with "exploitation through prostitution." In paragraph 4.17, the new text refers to "equitable inheritance rights." In paragraph 4.21, the reference to "alternatives to early marriage" was deleted and in paragraph 4.29 the word "relevant" was added to qualify programmes designed to reach boys before they become sexually active. On the whole of Chapter IV, Algeria, supported by Benin, said that the language used to refer to the "empowerment of women" is not appropriate, particularly in the French translation.

In paragraph 5.5 (elimination of coercion and discrimination), Zimbabwe, the EU, Austria and Australia objected to the new reference to "the family" and the deletion of "marriage" and "other unions." Slovenia, Zambia, Nigeria and The Gambia wanted to retain the reference to "the family." Uruguay suggested "families" as a compromise. The Chair encouraged the participants to accept the text with reservations, but since there were so many, a working group was formed to deal with this issue. In paragraph 6.27, the amended text refers to the right of indigenous people to "have tenure and manage their lands."

In paragraph 8.24 the brackets were removed around "safe motherhood," but the Holy See said that this was still subject to the adoption of Chapter VII. The reference to "early marriage" and "unions" was replaced with "family formation."

There was some debate on paragraph 10.7, which deals with those countries threatened with global warming and climate change, when the EU asked why the word "imminently" was added to change the meaning of the text. India, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands and the G-77 said that the amendment improved the text and asked the EU to withdraw its objection. The amendment was accepted.

The final change was in paragraph 14.3, where Zimbabwe asked why "sustainable" had been added to development. The Chair, supported by Sri Lanka, answered that the world never wants unsustainable development again.

III. INTERRELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN POPULATION, SUSTAINED ECONOMIC GROWTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: In the formal session that followed, Chapter III was adopted ad referendum. The Secretary read out the amendments that had been approved by the Committee in an informal session earlier in the week and in the morning (3.19). In paragraph 3.16, brackets around the last sentence (ending discrimination against women) were deleted. The Holy See pointed out that "reproductive health services" remains bracketed. In paragraph 3.21, reference to transparency and curtailing corruption in Governments was deleted and reference to human resource development was added. The brackets around paragraph 3.22 (supportive economic environment) were deleted.

IV. GENDER EQUALITY, EQUITY AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN: Four paragraphs had been amended. Paragraphs 4.9 and 4.17 had been approved in the morning. In paragraphs 4.21 and 4.29, "alternatives to early marriage" and "including sexual health and rights and reproduction" were deleted, respectively. The chapter was adopted ad referendum.

VI. POPULATION GROWTH AND STRUCTURE: Throughout Chapter VI, the letter "s" in "indigenous peoples" was deleted. Noting the amendment to paragraph 6.27, which had been approved earlier, the chapter was adopted ad referendum.

V. THE FAMILY, ITS ROLES, COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE: In paragraph 5.1, "concepts of the family" was changed to "forms of the family" and in paragraph 5.5 (elimination of coercion and discrimination), the words, "marriage and other unions and" were deleted, leaving only reference to "the family." The Holy See indicated its preference for retaining "concepts" of the family, while Bolivia supported "forms." Germany (on behalf of the EU), supported by Austria and others, said that they preferred the original language in paragraph 5.5. Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Ecuador did not want to delete "marriage." Benin asked for further consultations.

I. PREAMBLE: After lunch, the Chair led the delegates through a paragraph-by-paragraph reading of the revised text of the Preamble, as negotiated by the Friends of the Chair. A few of the paragraphs still proved to be problematic. In paragraph 1.5 (mandate of the Conference), Algeria requested reference to development in the last sentence. Germany pointed out that the second sentence says that development and population issues are interrelated. Nothing was resolved.

Paragraph 1.8 still contains brackets around the reference to sexual and reproductive health. In paragraph 1.9 (mobilization of resources), the EU proposed amending the second sentence to read "...mobilization of resources at the national and international level will be required..." and placed brackets around the reference to "new and additional financial resources." Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, said the EU amendment should also be bracketed.

In paragraph 1.17 (intensified efforts in population and development activities), the G-77 amended the last sentence by deleting reference to "philosophical convictions" and the last phrase to read "...as well as the shared but differentiated responsibilities for a common future." Pakistan wanted to add "its" before "religious beliefs." Some delegates objected.

Paragraph 1.18 (objectives) was amended so that the last sentence reads "Among these goals are: education, especially for girls; gender equity and equality; infant, child and maternal mortality reduction; and the provision of universal access to [sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning] and sustainable economic growth, within the context of sustainable development." In paragraph 1.20 (meeting the goals of the Conference), Algeria changed reference to "all groups in society" to "all members of society." In 1.21, the EU bracketed "religious and cultural values," pending outcome of the discussion of the chapeau of Chapter II.

VIII. HEALTH, MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY: After a break, the formal meeting resumed and the Secretary read out the amendments. Brackets were removed in the paragraphs that contained quantitative goals: 8.5, 8.12, 8.16, and 8.21. In paragraph 8.17, a footnote, which defines "safe motherhood," was added. The brackets around "safe motherhood" were also deleted in paragraphs 8.19, 8.20, 8.22 and 8.24.

Paragraph 8.25 now reads: "In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning. All Governments and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are urged to strengthen their commitment to women's health, to deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion* as a major public health concern and to reduce the recourse to abortion through expanded and improved family planning services. Prevention of unwanted pregnancies must always be given the highest priority and all attempts should be made to eliminate the need for abortion. Women who have unwanted pregnancies should have ready access to reliable information and compassionate counselling. Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process. In circumstances in which abortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe. In all cases, women should have access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion. Post-abortion counselling, education and family planning services should be offered promptly which will also help to avoid repeat abortions." The footnote reads: "Unsafe abortion is defined as a procedure for terminating an unwanted pregnancy either by persons lacking necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards or both."

The Holy See, supported by Malta and Ecuador, said that it did not endorse legalized abortion and withheld assent until discussion in Plenary. Jordan, supported by Libya, said that it would interpret this paragraph according to Islamic Law. The Central American States said that they were working on the Spanish text and would reserve their position, pending the translation. Benin said that the Francophone countries had agreed on acceptable text. The text was adopted ad referendum and the reservations were noted.

XII. TECHNOLOGY, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: The Secretary read out the two amended paragraphs in this chapter. The brackets were deleted in 12.17 around the words "Since unsafe abortion is a major threat to the health and lives of women..." In the footnote to paragraph 12.20 (objectives), the list of underserved groups is now qualified by the phrase "which could include." In sub-paragraph 12.20(b), The Gambia added the word, "individuals," and sentence now reads: "to improve the welfare of individuals and families."

X. INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION: The Secretary read out the amendments to paragraphs 10.3 (ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities), 10.7 (climate change), 10.13 (special needs of children and the elderly), 10.20 (undocumented migrants), and 10.25 (refugees, asylum-seekers and displaced persons). The second part of paragraph 10.12 was completely redrafted and no longer refers to the right to family reunification. More than 35 participants expressed their regrets, frustration, sadness, difficulties and even reservations, including: the Dominican Republic, Zambia, Mali, Benin, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Cuba, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, China, Cameroon, Swaziland, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, Mauritania, Honduras, Libya, Liberia, Chile, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Uganda, Malawi, Botswana, Peru, El Salvador, Paraguay, the Holy See, Suriname, the Congo, Chad and Haiti. Canada said that for the first time countries have agreed to implement, in practice, family reunification in their national legislation, and this is progress. The Chair said that it was sad that the world's divisions are stronger when it comes to migration and related matters. Several delegates asked that the draft be rejected, since it was not fully endorsed. Zimbabwe said that a compromise could be based on reference to Article 10.1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Chair postponed the chapter's adoption.

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