21 September 2005. The PrepCom subcommittee that currently is working on the implementation and follow-up part of the summit documents today has dropped the language for serious follow-up to the summit. Civil Society groups were overrun by the accelerated speed of the negotiations and could not give their input anymore.
The subcommittee B yesterday had discussed paragraphs 1 to 4 of the "operational part" of the Tunis documents and very nicely had taken into account and often accepted the submissions made by civil society groups and others before the PrepCom. But today, chairwoman Lyndall Shope Mafole stepped on the accelerator too much. The subcommittee discussed - if you can call it discussions at all - paragraphs 5 to 13. When coming to the crucial paragraphs 10 and 11 that deal with the mechanisms for implementation, the chair suggested using the latest version of the draft prepared by the Group of Friends of the chair. In this version, all the fleshed-out options that had been on the table at PrepCom-2 in February are deleted. Civil society groups already have strongly criticized this development in August. The discussion on the new versions of paragraphs 10 and 11 was very brief and did not lead to major changes, before the governments moved on to the next paragraphs.
This means that one of the most important issues of the whole second phase of the world summit is not taken serious by the governments anymore. It is hard to understand how one can have a four-year long process with lengthy negotiations and huge expenses and then ignore the most basic question: How to make sure that there is something coming out of this, that the summit leaves the Geneva UN bubble and has an impact on the real world? Of course, there is a slight chance that an ECOSOC-anchored follow-up within the current UN reform discussion can produce something meaningful, even with innovative multi-stakeholder involvement. But this is far from certain, and it would need at least some debate.
Civil Society groups had expected that the speed of the drafting would be roughly the same as yesterday and had expected the paragraphs 10 and 11 to be dealt with tomorrow. Therefore, they had asked to speak on exactly this issue at the end of this afternoon, in order to prepare the floor for tomorrows' discussion. The way things were handled by the chair and the governments, though, the matter was more or less closed when civil society had a chance to speak. In addition, there were no written language submissions from civil society in the compilation text now used by the governments, as the latest draft from the Group of Friends of the Chair had been published very late. Bertrand de La Chapelle who is currently coordinating civil society's work on this subcommittee made a brief intervention at the very end and clearly showed the disagreement with this procedure. The groups active in Geneva at the moment will now try to make sure that civil society language proposals for the respective paragraphs are incorporated as official input into the consolidated new version of the document.