Rio day 2: Before the Summit
15 Jun 20120 comments
[Editor] Yet another update from Dave Banisar, our Senior Legal Advisor at the Rio Summit. A little insight into the drafting of the Outcome document and the tussle between North-South countries, human rights and the fear of declining public participation at the discussions.
Hello all. I'm writing this on my nightly bus trip home. Got out early tonight at only 8:30 so with some luck will be back in my deluxe Copa flat by 10 pm.
Less than Progress
Alas, I have to leave lots of good stuff out of the blog. Apparently there is something in the rules about "defaming states" that means I’m not really supposed to report what they are saying or how unless or downright evil they are acting. That’s a future ARTICLE 19 campaign I think!
Today was even less fruitful than yesterday on substance on our issues. Its endless picky discussion on words rather than getting the concepts agreed to. After much time with no progress in open session on institutional reform, they went into a 2 hour closed session today to go over the entire section of text on institutional governance. They came back with some language but it’s not much of an improvement and not really compromise text.
They did agree to two paragraphs (8 and 9 for those of you who care) on human rights and a general name check on transparency and good governance. Not bad but no actual commitments or effect whatsoever. Also there was some positive movement on right to water and sanitation. A couple of northern states that I’m not supposed to mention (!) have now backed down from their opposition to this (one due to an opposition from the minister for local affairs to provide toilets for travellers for fear it gives them habitation rights). Apparently this move is due to public pressure. So sometimes we can make a difference.
There is a real concern about finishing the text. There are 800 bracketed bits of text that have to be approved by Friday. Fat chance on that. Southern countries are now playing games, demanding the stopping of negotiations relating the SDGs and a section on Means of Implementation (MOI) until they get commitments on money. But as one government delegate said to us "they don't need a commitment on money to implement if they don't commit to do anything". It’s silly brinksmanship and it puts pressure on Brasil to do something to prevent a massive failure and embarrassment.
The rumours about the Brasil alternative text are in full swing now. Brasil is reported to have started drafting a few days ago which since this is only the 2nd day, would have been before the prep-com even started. No one is confirming. We don't know if it will be a statement or an entire alternative text like Copenhagen which was a disaster.
An unholy alliance
On an even less cheery note, a very very very very small religious-oriented semi-state (can you figure it out yet?) has joined in an unholy alliance with some less progressive southern states of a fundamentally and often in conflict different religion to drag women and children's rights back to the 12th century or so, by demanding the elimination of references to human rights, international conventions on women's rights and other already established rights in the text. Lots of human rights, women's and other groups are up in arms on this and it was mentioned in the daily 2 minute CSO statement last night. I expect there will be more push back on this today.
A small highlight
One highlight was a rousing side event session organised by Civicus on public participation where one of the speakers noted that our participation rights seemed to be getting less as time processes at the CSD and suggested that we had picked up Stockholm Syndrome (where the kidnapped learn to love their captors). Another speaker from another mainstream CSO said that we should be prepared to revolt if it reached the point of unacceptability otherwise governments will do anything if they think we won't fight back. There was plenty of discussion of access to information also.
Time to sign off now. Send help!