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WORKING GROUP II

Chair Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl (Austria) opened Working Group II and its consideration of Chapter IV (Strategic Objectives and Actions), Section I (human rights).

In paragraph 219 (de jure human rights), delegates accepted the alternative developed during the informal consultations and removed brackets from de jure. A decision on the reference to "sexual orientation" in paragraph 226 (barriers to enjoyment of human rights), was deferred after several delegates requested a definition of the term and/or suggested deleting it. The US and Canada, among others, supported the term, noting that the reference granted no new rights but stated that some face additional barriers because they belong to a certain group. Delegates agreed to remove brackets around the reference to "feminist groups" in paragraph 228 (defense of human rights).

In sub-paragraph 230 (a) (ratify human rights treaties), delegates agreed to call on nations to "work actively towards" ratification. In 230(b) (ratification of CEDAW), the EU, Paraguay and others, said "consider" should be removed to strengthen the commitment. Sudan reserved, noting that each member State has the right to consider a treaty. The EU, supported by Ghana, Namibia, Canada and others, recommended text combining 230(c) and (d) (limiting reservations to CEDAW). Kuwait, Libya and Iran said both paragraphs should be deleted. The proposal will be circulated in writing. In 230(f) (establishing human rights institutions), Cuba, Malaysia and the G77/China said "independent" should be deleted, because the language was not agreed at Vienna. Australia and Canada said recent General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights resolutions called for "effective, independent and pluralistic institutions." Kuwait proposed keeping "independent." Mexico presented text from intersessional informal negotiations for 230(k) (protocol regarding eliminating discrimination), which will be circulated in writing.

<$TSpInterLn=1517;EfWeight=4>In sub-paragraph 231(h) (UNHCR and UNCHR), Canada and the EU supported the original text, stating that its focus on refugees was appropriate. The G-77/China proposed a number of changes to the alternative text, which identified a number of situations that can jeopardize human rights. Delegates agreed to remove the calls to simply "consider" reviewing and revoking laws in sub-paragraph 232(d) (ensure implementation of human rights instruments). A number of delegates, including Morocco and Argentina, wanted to delete 232(f) (ensure reproductive and sexual rights), while others, including Namibia and Jamaica, urged retaining the language. Jordan pointed out that, in marriage, an Islamic woman has sexual rights, but Malta stated that this did not satisfy its concerns. In 232(h) (prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation), the US supported the text, stating that it only asked countries to consider what may be done to prevent discrimination. Jordan expressed concern that the text established a new right. The brackets around [judges] were removed in 232 (m) (right to legal-related professions).

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