Additional PrepCom3 sessions planned for November/December
  PrepCom3 is suspended in Chaos
  Geneva, 26 September 2003. PrepCom 3 has been suspended and will reconvene 10-14 November and 7-9 December. The draft Declaration of Principles and Action Plan were adopted by the PrepCom plenary on Friday night only "as a basis for future negotiations". With large sections of the text still in square brackets and drafts constantly being changed in intransparent ways, the documents are in a state of disarray. The final plenary was suspended after chaotic debates on Friday night.

At a press conference in the afternoon, President of PrepCom Adama Samassekou had still pointed to far-reaching progress which he said was achieved during the PrepCom meeting. The Secretary General of the ITU, Yoshio Utsumi, said that there were still minor differences between governments on some issues, but these would be easily settled at the summit itself.

Reality looks very different. The Action Plan still contains many sections in square brackets, and the Declaration is even further from being finalised. In frantic meetings of working groups and heads of delegations, the Declaration was repeatedly discussed, and new versions were published several times, each introducing substantial changes. Many delegations expressed their concerns about the fact that these changes were conducted in an intransparent manner and did not always reflect the outcomes of the long and intense negotiations in the thematic working groups. In the final plenary on Friday, delegates were asked to discuss a new version which they had not even seen.

Several delegates, particularly from the Global North, had repeatedly mentioned that they regarded the draft Declaration as far too extensive and that it needed to be cut down substantially. They favoured a process by which the draft Declaration would be fully revised by a group of experts. A Declaration created through this approach however may not take into account the results of the fierce negotiations of the working groups during the past two weeks. Many governments, particularly from the Global South, made clear that they would object to such an approach and that they would insist on further discussing the present draft Declaration.

The decision to reconvene for two further meetings of PrepCom3 was taken against the concerns of a number of developing countries whose delegations pointed out that they lacked the financial resources to send their delegates to Geneva twice in such a short time. They had suggested to instead reconvene for one week directly before the December summit.

The failure of PrepCom3 makes it very likely that the December summit will not come up with a final Declaration but rather with a preliminary paper outlining both common positions and differences. Such a paper may then lay out the foundations on which further debates will take place.

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