PrepCom2 will not produce final drafts for the summit
 
Geneva, 26 February 2003. The government delegations are currently working on the summit action plan, after they have debated the "vision" and "key principles" sections of the draft declaration. The latest version of the draft was scheduled to be out yesterday evening, but only came out to the public this morning. Civil society groups are working everywhere to produce comments and amendmends. The drafting group of civil society's "content and themes" committee is putting them together as a common input for the sessions of PrepCom subcommittee 2. There are a number of issues that are not welcome by many groups. For example, all mentions of "open source" and "free software" have been deleted completely in the current draft. "Security", which became a big theme in the recent months due to the US-led "war against terrorism" has got a whole section now, arguing for the need to "prevent the use of information resources or technologies for criminal or terrorist purposes". Civil society groups fear that this language would be used to legitimise new suveillance powers and weaken civil liberties. The European Union today circulated a "List of Issues" paper for the declaration themes and the action plan, which was mostly welcomed by Civil Society. But it is still unclear if the EU will use its international weight to really push this in the negotiations. The Greek presidency seems to be very calm, and the other EU government delegations leave it up to them to speak out publicly.

These conflicts will continue in the coming months. Today it became clear that PrepCom2 will not produce any final version of the draft summit declaration. With only one and a half days left for negotiations, time is running out. Today we heard that the outcome of PrepCom2 will probably only get the status of a "rough draft". This working document will further be discussed in an "intersessional process" before PrepCom3 in September. It is still not clear if this will be an open process with participation of all stakeholders, or if the government delegations will meet behind closed doors only. But even if the intersessional process is open, it creates heavy problems for the real participation of many disadvantaged actors. The poorest countries which do not have permanent missions to the United Nations in Geneva might not have the ressources to attend all these meetings, and the high costs for traveling and staying in this expensive city will prevent a lot of civil society groups from participating, too.

The lack of openness and inclusion of all stakeholders again led to sharp criticism in the open session of subcommittee 2 this morning. The private sector delegates were really annoyed by the exclusion, and the international organisations and civil society speakers voiced their critique along the same lines. The president of the PrepCom, Adama Samassekou, was quite impressed by these complaints. He invited the heads of the government delegations to a special discussion on multi-stakeholder participation and involvement. We have not heard any outcomes yet, but we will closely follow the further progress of these debates.


 
 
 
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