Chair Maquiera opened the PrepCom by introducing the
provisional agenda (A/AC.253/12), which the Plenary adopted.
He outlined the PrepCom’s division of work, noting that
Working Group I would be chaired by himself, Working Group II
by Koos Richelle (Netherlands) and Working Group III by Bagher
Asadi (Iran). Working Group III will meet in two sessions a
day during the coming week to discuss the draft political
declaration (A/AC.253/L.5/Rev. 2/ Part I), while Working
Groups I and II will each meet for one session a day on the
further actions document (A/AC.253/L.5/Rev. 2 Part/III) until
the declaration is completed. Chair Maquiera introduced the
PrepCom’s three facilitators: Ion Gorita (Romania), Aurelio
Fernandez (Spain) and Sonia Felicity Elliott (Guyana).
Minister Zola Skweyiya, Chair of CSD-38, presented the
Overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the
outcome of the WSSD (A/AC.253/L.5/Rev.2/Part II). In reviewing
critical challenges, he stated that negotiations should be
informed by the need to build a people-centered, sustainable
development process, and underscored the importance of gender
mainstreaming and the plight of the least developed countries.
John Langmore, Director of the Division for Social Policy
and Development, briefed delegates on activities prior to the
Special Session. He introduced the draft political declaration
and a compilation of reports prepared by agencies of the UN
system. He noted that the comprehensive reports provide a
basis for a well-informed debate, and hoped the June session
could be remembered as a "Special Session on social
Chair Maquiera urged delegates to uphold a spirit of
consensus building and to act not only as country
representatives but as people who will be proud of their
contributions towards ending poverty, unemployment and social
WORKING GROUP I
On the further initiatives document, Working Group I agreed
on text under Commitment 1 asking governments to adopt an
integrated focus to incorporating social objectives in
decision-making. Groups differed on multiple proposals to add
references to local, national, regional and international
levels, and the text remains bracketed. The G-77/CHINA offered
new text on respecting human rights and the right to
development, while the EU and the US proposed language on
including the right to development. The G-77/CHINA agreed, and
suggested adding a reference to religious and cultural values.
While acknowledging that similar language appeared in the POA,
the EU requested that this reference remain in brackets.
On text concerning renewed commitments to responsive
governance, the group agreed to language on social and
people-centered sustainable development consistent with the
POA. The G-77/CHINA disagreed with EU and US proposals to
delete language on equitable access, transparency and
accountability. The EU supported reference to equal rather
than equitable access, while the G-77/CHINA preferred equity.
The text remains bracketed.
On a reference to reinforcing peace, security, human rights
and fundamental freedoms, the EU objected to a G-77/CHINA
proposal to insert the right to development by, inter alia,
promoting peace and respect for diversity. The EU,
supported by the US, proposed moving language on settling
disputes by peaceful means to the draft political declaration.
The G-77/CHINA suggested deleting the paragraph, and it
remains in brackets.
WORKING GROUP II
Under Commitment 2, the G-77/CHINA proposed, and other
delegates supported, text on further initiatives for poverty
eradication based on POA language. In a reference to halving
the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015, the US
withdrew a proposal that this refer only to developing
countries. The EU and the G-77/CHINA said they would
reconsider language, including references to social
development instead of policy-making, and to cooperation with
civil society. The group accepted a reference to reducing
poverty with a view to eradicating it.
Delegates debated proposals from the US and NORWAY on
linking health and education to poverty eradication, with the
EU suggesting moving the text to the commitment on health and
education. The text remains bracketed. Delegates discussed
ways to integrate references to poverty eradication
strategies, goals and targets. CANADA called for retaining
language on sustainable and pro-poor growth strategies that
enhance the ability of men and women to take advantage of
world markets. No agreement was reached.
The EU supported a G-77 formulation on encouraging the
growth of small and medium enterprises. The US added a
reference to productive enterprises, while the EU proposed,
and the G-77/CHINA opposed, text on labor standards. The text
On addressing the informal sector, the G-77/CHINA opposed
an EU proposal on improving working conditions through respect
for fundamental rights. Delegates accepted a G-77/CHINA
proposal on micro-credit and other financial instruments. The
EU suggested strengthening and expanding as well as
establishing such instruments, and proposed, with G-77/CHINA
support, a reference to marginalized people and vulnerable
groups. The HOLY SEE, supported by the US and the EU, proposed
a reference to disadvantaged groups, especially people living
in poverty. Delegates agreed to a proposal from JAPAN to
replace a reference to education with training.
On national strategies, the EU proposed additional text on
a multi-sectoral approach and accountability by governments.
The EU, supported by the US, proposed ensuring coherence
between national and international strategies. The G-77/CHINA
preferred reference to strengthening strategies, and proposed
deleting language on meso-level anti-poverty programmes. The
text remains bracketed.
Delegates agreed on action paragraphs on: ensuring access
for all to basic social services; encouraging sustainable
rural development; developing and promoting institutional
capacities; and ensuring agender equality perspective at all
levels. Delegates also accepted a G-77/CHINA proposal on
targeting vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, but disagreed
on restructuring public expenditure policies to make them more
efficient, transparent and accountable.
Delegates agreed on references to ensuring community
participation in poverty reduction strategies and to
acknowledging civil society’s role in delivering social
services. They also agreed on assisting developing countries
with poverty-related data analysis and encouraging
decentralization of basic social services. Delegates did not
reach consensus on improving social systems and extending
coverage to, inter alia, vulnerable groups.
WORKING GROUP III
Delegates met in Working Group III to present text
proposals on the draft political declaration. The EU,
supported by the US, suggested referring to establishing a new
consensus to place people at the center of sustainable
development and to foster a society for all. The G-77/ CHINA
stressed retaining a reference to eradication of poverty. The
RUSSIAN FEDERATION preferred language on establishing
standards for social development and declaring the eradication
of poverty as a universal target of mankind.
On reaffirming commitments, the G-77/CHINA proposed
replacing a reference to progress with language on assessment
of achievements and obstacles, and suggested, with EU support,
text on reaffirming commitments to POA implementation. The
G-77/CHINA suggested deleting language on applying these
commitments to public policy. The EU proposed adding text on
key targets, and a statement on the POA as the basis for
future social development. The EU also proposed replacing text
on translating words into deeds with a reference acknowledging
the need for a coordinated follow-up. The text was bracketed.
On addressing the imperative of social development, the EU
proposed including social policy as a productive factor, and
the G-77/ CHINA added reference to an enabling environment.
The RUSSIAN FEDERATION proposed language on reviewing and
appraising POA implementation. On a reference to attempts to
improve the well-being of people, the EU suggested inserting
actions, the G-77/CHINA preferred reference to concerted
efforts and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION proposed, with support from
MEXICO, language on continuous efforts. The EU and the
G-77/CHINA agreed that a more inclusive listing of
stakeholders was needed within the reference on improving and
strengthening civil society, but no consensus was reached. The
EU suggested replacing the assertion that there is no single,
universal path to achieving social development with one
calling for further actions for POA implementation. The
RUSSIAN FEDERATION, supported by MEXICO, preferred to retain
the original reference, and proposed adding language on the
need for more knowledge and information.
Regarding text on growing global integration and continuing
rapid advances offering previously unimagined opportunities
for social and economic progress, the G-77/CHINA proposed
"globalization" for "growing global
integration" and, with the support of other delegates,
"unprecedented" for "unimagined"
opportunities. The EU supported reference to opportunities for
social development rather than social and economic progress.
Regarding global integration and rapid advances having
contributed to intensifying crises, insecurity, exclusion and
inequality, the G-77/CHINA proposed language on new challenges
for the fulfillment of commitments. The EU preferred text on
stressing contributions to development and specified
intensifying financial crises.
On obstacles to participation in the global economy, the
G-77/ CHINA specified integration and equal participation,
particularly for developing countries. On language referring
to inequalities in income and opportunity defeating social
justice and increasing social disintegration, the G-77/CHINA
preferred stating such inequalities have hindered the
achievement of social justice for all and increased social
disintegration. He called for reference to extending social
and economic benefits in text on marginalization. The EU
proposed deleting clauses on inequalities and marginalization,
and suggested a reference to overcoming obstacles and
On text reiterating determination and duty to eradicate
poverty, and ensuring opportunities are available for
productive and fairly remunerated employment, the G-77/CHINA
called for deleting "and duty," and substituting
"expanded" for "available." The EU
preferred a reference to an enabling environment for social
development to promote full and productive employment. He
proposed adding that, inter alia, democracy and
protection of all human rights are a prerequisite for
people-centered sustainable development.
On achievements being assessed in terms of economic
activity and, inter alia, the security of people and
social justice, the EU proposed a reference to human well
being. The G-77/CHINA called for reference to achievements
being made not only through economic activity but also through
equitable distribution of wealth and, inter alia,
guaranteeing social justice and equity between women and men.
The G-77/ CHINA suggested deleting language on an effective
regulatory structure set by transparent and accountable
IN THE CORRIDORS
The chips are on the table, as groups scramble to add
proposals to the PrepCom documents. Chair Maquiera is
determined to keep the mood upbeat, hoping good humor will
smooth over ongoing disputes on economics and human rights.
Some observers stress the Special Sessionï¿½s responsibility
to forward a strong statement on globalization to the upcoming
Millenium Assembly. Others hope to bring a few gems to Geneva,
such as strong language on employment and poverty, and even
that unlikely wealth redistribution tool, the Tobin tax.