Excluding the Peoples

The last few days of CSD13 have been both energetic, inspiring, and at the same time, incredibly frustrating. On Thursday and Friday, governments gave their inputs on the draft text of decisions from CSD13. A number of times sessions were delayed for hours because the negotiating blocks, EU and G77, needed longer to coordinate their positions — at least this is what we were told. The whole process seemed incredibly disorganised. Eventually, we had a draft document that included positions of all of the countries — no negotiations, just everyone’s input. It was a long text, but included a number of points the youth caucus had been fighting for. The next morning rumours were spreading like wildfire that something of a coup was underway. The JUSCANZ group (Japan, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some others) was going to push for a completely new draft text. G77 fell in line, leaving the EU isolated being the only block that still wanted to negotiate the draft that included everyones input. They were left with no choice, and reluctantly agreed to accept the proposal of a completely new draft. It was clearly a stitch-up and had been decided in advance, blatantly obvious from the fact that the chair promissed that a whole new draft would be ready in under an hour. Time only for some minor tweaks to a document that had already been prepared.

The new text arrived, and immediately the negotiating blocks went into their respective coordinating meetings, and so the civil society groups had been effectively excluded from the process. The only way we can get our points in to the text is if a country proposes our points, and once the coordination has happened it’s impossible to feed out points in through the big negotiating blocks. The chair said that he wanted the negotiations to be finished in the afternoon session (only three hours) — everyone knew that would be impossible, but it seemed to be a coordinated attempt to seal the process with a text that had been controlled by the chair with very little input from civil society or even from countries.

The second “chairman’s text” included more reflection of the governmental and civil society input than the first had, so in some ways that was a relief, but again we were left wondering just how much we have to fight just to have our voices heard in a supposedly participatory process. There were also some key points for the youth caucus that had been left out, for example a point we have been lobbying for about the role of youth organisations in non-formal peer-to-peer education, vital in empowering young people for example in combatting HIV-AIDS:

Recognising that youth organisations have a unique role, through their strong capacity, in non-formal and peer to peer education to educate communities on sustainable development and practical sustainable life-skills.

Canada, Mexico, Norway, the European Union, the USA, and a number of other countries were all in support of our point. But they had been pushed to the wall by all the delays, and none of them wanted to be the ‘bad’ country who was trying to introduce major new points into the text. They all said they would support our point if another country introduced it, but that they couldn’t introduce it themselves. Catch 22.

As expected the negotiations didn’t finish on Tuesday night, but the process had unfolded in such a way as to make it almost impossible for us to introduce new, important points that had been missed.

We regrouped on Wednesday morning, and compared the current state of the draft text to our key points. Here are the specific issues we decided to try to keep pushing in our lobbying:

2. (i) Youth organisations have a unique role, through non-formal education, to provide communities with practical sustainable life-skills on water, sanitation and human settlement issues.

2. (f) …a conducive international policy environment, including trade liberalization the removal of unfair subsidies and taxes
…technical cooperation and capacity building, formal and non formal education and technology transfer…

3. D (u) (vi) …and micro-credit facilities accessible to all, especially women and youth;

3. E (v) …implement transparent and participatory monitoring to ensure…

3. E (v) (ii) Providing guidelines on transparent and participatory monitoring…

(We changed the point about non-formal education because we found out the G77 would oppose the phrase ‘peer to peer’.)

Along side the lobbying, we also began preparations for the ministerial level ‘Multi Stakeholder Dialogue’, which is where each major group, including Youth, gets to make a 3-4 minute statement, and then (in theory) there is an interactive dialogue between the civil society groups and the ministers. That is happening later this afternoon. More updates coming…

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