The Working Group first considered the G-77/China proposed commitment on education and culture. The EU indicated that after evaluation of this proposal, they decided that incorporation of a new proposal at this late date could open the floodgates for new and additional commitments. They also questioned why such an important commitment had not been raised earlier. The EU maintained that sufficient references to education have been made throughout the Programme of Action and the Declaration. The G-77/China indicated that no other group intends to propose any other new commitments and that the dangers perceived by the EU were more imaginary than real. They asked that their proposal be submitted to the Butler Group.
Numerous G-77 members supported the proposed education commitment. Paraguay said that the achievement of social development is impossible without peace or education, and that all the commitments contained in the Declaration are secondary compared with the tragic reality of ignorance. Japan supported the proposed commitment, while noting the procedural difficulties to include it at this late stage. She suggested strengthening the educational aspects of the existing commitments as an alternative. Mali noted that the education deficit is the underlying reason for the dependence of the developing world. Thailand said that education is closely linked to solutions for the problems of social development. The EU expressed their support for the substance of the commitment and their understanding of the connection between education and social development. The EU insisted that consideration of the proposed commitment would necessitate a fundamental re-evaluation of the entire Declaration, which they were not prepared to do. They proposed re-examination of the Social Summit documents to assess where references to education could be added or strengthened. Costa Rica stated that the Rio Group originally submitted this proposal to the G-77/China. Ecuador cautioned against the EU proposal, on the basis that it could reopen discussion on the entire document. The US supported the commitment and proposed broadening it to integrate health education issues. The Chair suggested that the EU and G-77/China: reach an understanding that no more commitments will be considered; discuss the possibility of including education-related issues; and review the text and propose strengthened references to education. The G-77/China expressed a willingness to accept these conditions, but the EU cautioned again about the late hour for such changes.
The Chair noted the need for the G-77/China and the EU to consult with their groups before the Working Group can commence discussions on the report from Amb. Butler"s group. The Working Group adjourned for the night, with the Chair"s request that Tuesday"s discussions move ahead and not reopen issues resolved in the Butler Group.
[Return to start of article]