Things are starting to heat up here at the UN. Evening negotiation sessions have been initiated to keep making progress. Yesterday afternoon I attended the session that dealt with Interlinkages and Means of Implementation. Some very interesting exchanges, that most of the time didn’t end in any agreements. The chair actually told everybody off for not having agreed on anything during the first 2 hours! His comment must have made an impression because soon after they went from this paragraph (proposal by G77. NB: G77 is the group representing most developing countries and China; there are many more countries in the group than the original 77):
[(c) bis: Facilitate the active participation of groups living in the most vulnerable situations, including women, youth, and indigenous peoples in the elaboration of local and national planning taking into account national legislation.–G77]
To this (changes in bold):
(c) bis: Facilitate and promote the active participation of groups including, inter alia, women, children and youth, indigenous peoples and those living in the most vulnerable situations in the elaboration of local and national planning, taking into account national legislation and decision-making. [agreed ad ref]
Now, you might think there isn’t much difference and that agreement must have been reached quite easily. Wrong!
The negotiations went from deleting all groups mentioned to wanting to list all groups possible (including disabled people and the elderly). The first suggestion (deletion) would not have made us (= civil society) happy, as it is often important to specify who is affected or needs to be included. The 2nd suggestion poses a problem in that the list can become very long (too long) and therefore looses its power and meaning.
The compromise reached, listing a few groups WITHOUT calling these groups vulnerable, is very neat. Had these groups been called vulnerable, we would have tried to convince governments to take it out. The Women’s major Group has been fighting hard over the years not to be called ‘a vulnerable group’, it puts women into a victim position instead of as an agent of change position.
Now, I didn’t note exactly how long this discussion on this paragraph took, but I’d guess at least 30 minutes. The good thing is everybody agreed in the end (probably ‘helped’ by the chair’s previous displeasement about progress). See, why progress is slow?