Rio day 6: The end is nigh! And so is the world!
19 Jun 20120 comments
First, a disclaimer: any resemblences in this blog with any persons, delegations and/or major conferences being held by large international intergovernmental organisations in the southern hemisphere this week are purely intentional. Unless you are in one of them. In which case, please dont sic UN security on me, its all made up! Now back to the previously scheduled programme.
Waiting for bus. It's 23c (73 for those in the north of this hemisphere who are Metric challenged - and aren't you just a bit embarrassed by now?), sunny and we are looking at the beach. How cruel can life be? And we have plenty of time too - after waiting for 30 mins, a full bus arrives and won't let us on. So much for efficient conference transport. There is a fair amount of shouting by people already late and we stand in front of the bus to prevent it from leaving in the hope that they will let us on even if we have to stand. No such luck. It was our moment of civil disobedience and we were crushed like an empty soda can. Back to the line for us obedient sheep. They bloody well better organise more buses for the summit itself or no one will be going.
After another 20 mins waiting for the bus supposedly coming in 10 minutes (it's Rio time!), 4 of us grab a taxi to Rio centro. We spent the trip quizzing a South American country delegate on G77 positions. She's too well trained to spill in the 80 minutes ride. Another half hour and we might have cracked her.
A privilege, not a right
Today, we are supposed to find out the final resolutions of the working groups. They were working late last night and I wasn't allowed into the room by security for the discussion on institutional reform so I took that as a sign and bunked off early enough to be home by 9. We were reminded by our UN handler in the morning meeting that our presence in these meetings is a privilege, not a right.
Rio centro is starting to look more like armed camp. There are now lots of armed troops around the place and helicopters flying overhead. I shudder to think what it will be like when the various presidents and ministers come in on Wednesday. Going to have to get there really early for our security strip searches. I hope they will be gentle.
There was supposed to be a flash mob today. Well sort of "flash" since they needed permission from UN security first so its been discussed for about 4 days now. Wanted to participate to get down with the youth but was in the negotiation session. Another life experience missed.
After last night's denial of access and cleansing of the rooms by security of us CSO ruffians, I went early to make sure I got in and turned my badge so the big scarlet N (actually like an old yellow mustard that had been sitting on a sandwich for too many hours) was not obvious. A number of us civil society rabble made it in and were not turfed out this time, apparently the crys of poor us being dragged from rooms was too much for the ears of even the most hardened delegates so they didn't do that again. But only those of us who beat the security to the door were in and it was a war of attrition - if you needed to leave for the bathroom or a breath of fresh air, or most the necessary thing for this - coffee - that was it, you could not get back in. Outside the room, the youth groups (who are really well connected in delegations and very organised so perhaps we do have some hope for the future) set up a silent demonstration on the killing off of the ombudsman for future generations with taped mouths and signs.
The chair was again being very restrictive, shutting down discussions from delegations big and small. There was a pretty contentious debate with threats of killing the whole delicate package (not really that delicate since it was imposed by Brasil without a lot of consultation) and cross words on redlines and minimum acceptable levels. The session kept going way beyond the allotted time as debate was stopped so that blocks and delegations could decide on compromise text floated around.
Our issues didn't directly get raised but took a beating indirectly The language on CSO participation in future UN processes is looking weaker. It's good to be reminded of our lowly place in the pecking order. We were starting to think that we were players. Countries run the show and don't let us forget that!
No good news yet on the ombudsman for future generations but civil society is still fighting. Rumor is that a certain large, cannot be named, south american country where they speak a different language than the rest of the continent (get it right?) might be opposing it and since it's their ball, they get to set the rules and apparently the final score too. But no confirmation on that.
Still haven't found out what happened in the other groups on some language on freedom of assembly that was being opposed by a block of less freedom loving countries and on anti-corruption, aid transparency and mining transparency. I believe that women are allowed into the 20th century but without their sexual and reproductive rights. Good thing it's 2012 in the real world.
The discussions, at least publicly, are over. Apparently people were waiting in the room until 1:30 am for the final text, sleeping on the floor. One of our CSO partners described it looking like a refugee camp. The new text is supposedly out at 10:30 tomorrow so i gues we'll be eagerly awaiting it at our meeting. The Brasilians are supposed to be having a day of cleaning up the text to ready it for the leaders but I imagine that behind the scenes the big delegations (G77/China, USA and EU) are all still pushing them and discussing language, hopefully without the ridiculous postering we've seen from some the last few days. And hopefully no really, really, really tiny semi states with medieval mindsets allowed in.
No blogging tomorrow. We are co-organising a one day side event in the city on governance and transparency. My colleagues Paulina, Arthur and Tahmina will all be there too so I'll let one of them do their impressions of the event. I'm just looking forward to a day away from 3 hours of buses and excessive aircon but it's likely we'll get that too at the FGV university.