The Plenary, chaired by Ms. Patricia Licuanan (Philippines), convened Monday morning to hear from NGO representatives and consider draft resolutions under Agenda Items 3 (Preparations for the FWCW) and 6 (Priority Themes). The rules of procedure were also scheduled for discussion.
The convenor of the NGO Forum, Ms. Supatra Masdit, noted that the venue for NGOs at the FWCW had been changed due to structural problems with the original venue. The alternative site offered is in a scenic area near the Beijing airport, 45 minutes from the conference center. NGOs have expressed concern about adequate access to the negotiations. In response, China stated that his country attached great importance to the plans for the FWCW and the NGO Forum, but noted that the conference required many resources for a developing country. Given the structural problems at the original site, the Chinese preparatory committee decided that the venue should be changed to one near the airport. Shuttle buses would be provided.
Ms. Bella Abzug, speaking for the women's caucus, said the FWCW should be a high point in the advancement of women. She regretted that the centrality of women's full participation had not been recognized during this final preparatory session, and noted the contrast with PrepComs for Vienna, Cairo and Copenhagen. She called on the CSW to end exclusion of NGOs. Women in the gallery rose, held up "gender" placards and applauded a reference to bracketed language. Sudan objected to NGO criticisms of the CSW. He noted that "we must come to realize that we are trying to reach a common denominator."
Delegates then turned their attention to draft resolutions. The EU introduced draft resolution E/CN.6/1995/L.20, "Accreditation of NGOs to the FWCW," under Agenda Item 3 (Preparations for the FWCW). The EU thanked the Chair for setting up a working group on accreditation. The draft resolution requests the Secretariat to invite NGOs who had not received accreditation by March 15 to submit further details, and for the Secretariat to forward their recommendations with full explanations for any non-accreditation to ECOSOC. The EU noted that NGO participation at recent world summits has been important, and recalled that NGO accreditation at the WSSD had continued right up to the opening. The Chair said action would be considered at the Tuesday Plenary.
Ms. Licuanan handed over the Chair to Ms. Natallya Drozd (Belarus), to resume consideration of Agenda Item 6 (Priority Themes). Peru re-introduced draft resolution E/CN.6/1995/L.16/Rev.1, "Integration of displaced rural women into development processes," which was revised due to translation difficulties. Delegates adopted the text.
The Chair then introduced Agenda Item 3(d) (Draft Rules of Procedure). The US said he had consulted with many delegations and requested that consideration of the draft rules be delayed until all other substantive work has been completed. In view of the large number of amendments, he asked that consideration be taken up by ECOSOC. The EU agreed and offered to issue its amendments. Secretary-General Mongella said that postponement would reflect on the CSW's ability to complete its task, and added that there would be a problem of NGO access. Nigeria noted the useful input of the NGOs and suggested immediate consideration of the draft rules. Delegates were invited to submit amendments for circulation, and the Chair agreed to postpone discussion until the Tuesday Plenary.
Chair Licuanan opened the afternoon Plenary and announced that the Bureau proposed extending the conference two days, until Thursday 6 April, so that negotiations could continue in informal-informal groups for the remainder of Monday and all day Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday would be spent processing the results of the text to be sent to Beijing. Three informal working groups would be used.
A lengthy debate ensued. Argentina asked for a reconsideration of the plan, but the Chair noted that all texts should be negotiated at least once before Beijing. Ecuador noted that nations whose delegates must return to their capitals on Wednesday would be at a disadvantage. Honduras noted the disadvantage posed for poorer countries. The Chair recognized their concerns, but noted that the alternatives were worse. Other options considered by the Bureau were to reconvene the group for an intersessional, one-week period or to go to Beijing with undiscussed text. Kuwait suggested extending the Beijing Conference by two days. Algeria suggested that ECOSOC could devote two days to the text.
The US stressed the need to do a good negotiating job and to complete consideration of all texts. The Philippines also stressed the need to finish in NY what was started in NY. Secretary-General Mongella urged delegates to agree to continue with the work. She noted the UN's support for the work on the draft Platform, and stated that the Secretary-General had offered support for three extra days. The EU asked for a suspension of the meeting, for time to consult.
After the 50 minute break, the EU stated that negotiations must take place under the best conditions possible. He noted that delegations need time to consult before discussing the sections on health and human rights, and requested that consideration of health be delayed another day. He proposed that the negotiation deadline be Wednesday night, not Tuesday, and that work continue until Friday. He also requested information about the work schedule from now until Friday, and stressed that the decision to extend the conference should be taken as soon as possible so that ECOSOC could officially extend the conference.
The G-77/China agreed with the EU proposal to extend negotiations to Wednesday and the conference to Friday. Mexico supported the EU proposal but stressed that negotiations must finish by Wednesday night. Australia noted that the conference had covered 10 areas of work in two weeks, but had only two days to finish five areas of work. Egypt requested that there be only two working groups so that smaller delegations could participate in all negotiations.
The Chair insisted that three groups were needed to finish by Wednesday night. The Plenary formally adopted the extension. The G-77/China noted that submissions on the girl child were due by 11:00 am on Tuesday, and that negotiations on that section would start Tuesday afternoon. The Chair suggested that the rules of procedure could be negotiated by one of the informal groups. Canada noted that the deadline for written submissions on the Declaration were also due Tuesday morning. The group discussing health was to discuss procedural matters Monday evening and begin substantive negotiations Tuesday morning. Informal Group I, chaired by Ms. Freudenschuss (Austria) in Room 9, will consider Sections K (environment) and I (human rights) of Chapter IV. Informal Group II, chaired by Ms. Licuanan (Philippines) in Room 7, will consider Chapter IV, Section H (mechanisms) and the proposed section on the girl child. Informal Group III, chaired by Ms. O'Neil (New Zealand) in Room 5, will consider Chapter IV, Section C (health) and the Declaration.
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