Government delegations agree on paper for negotiations
  Participation of observers much smaller than hoped for
Geneva, 25.2.2003. Yesterday, the PrepCom subcommittee 2 finally has agreed on a paper as the basis for the negotions. It will be changed and amended during the coming days in order to draft a political summit declaration and an action plan. To the surprise of many observers, the governments chose not to start with the Samassekou non-Paper. Instead, they use the synopsis of the regional preparatory conferences' outcomes (the "Green Paper"). This decision reflects the fear by some country groups that their work before PrepCom2 could be neglected. The form of the Green Paper has been redrafted - the structure will be further adapted to the formal structure of a polical declaration, and the references to the regional sources will be deleted. Yesterday and today, a long list of speakers from many different countries talked about the vision and the key principles they found important for the final declaration. From what was reported in the morning and could be heard from participants this afternoon, they mostly focused on cultural and lingustic diversity, ethics, access for all and the need for a global vision. The UN Millennium Declaration as well will serve as a guidance, including peace and poverty-reduction. Other themes include a special reference to the important role of the youth. The need for a new framework for intellectual property rights was also stressed. The first new draft of the paper is expected later this evening or early tomorrow. The governments' drafting group elected Lyndall Shope-Mafole from the South African embassy in Paris as the chairperson.

The structure of the meetings of subcommittee 2 received heavy criticism from civil society and the private sector. The government delegations decided to only have a very short common meeting with all the stakeholders and afterwards split the group into "government delegations" and "observers". This lead to the fact that the common session only lasted for half an hour, leaving ten minutes each for statements by civil society, the private sector and international organizations. The following sessions of the government drafting group today and probably in the future are closed for all outsiders. The speakers from civil society as well as from the private sector sharply criticized this new mechanism. It is seen as contradictory to the official goal of a new kind of summit, where all stakeholders really work together on the same level. It also runs counter to achievements already made in the preparatory process, e.g. at the Asia-Pacific regional conference. According to participants, there was particular resistance against a more open process from the Chinese delegation as well as from some developing countries out of the Group of 77 (G-77). The speakers from the international organizations did not refer to this new structure. It looks like they are not yet organized among themselves - maybe another chance for civil society to build coalitions.

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