The current political conjuncture of aggessive fundamentalism and militarism presents serious risks to women's human rights world-wide. DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era) like a number of other organizations, is concerned about the possibility of setbacks to the gains made for women's human rights during and in relation to the UN conferences of the 1990s. Contrary to the relatively open environment for such advances that existed during the 1990s, the first decade of the 21st century confronts us with the extreme social conservatism, aggressive unilateralism, and support for militarism of the Bush administration, and the worsening of fundamentalist trends elsewhere as well. In such a context, it is very important to protect the gains made for women's human rights through careful and considered action. It is especially important not to place these gains at risk through promoting or agreeing to formats or mechanisms for regional or international meetings that are likely to be problematic.
We believe, in this context, it is imperative that there NOT be any international or regional inter-governmental meetings that in any way involve or may lead to official negotiations - not any UNGASS or Ministerial or other High Level meetings that by their very form automatically become negotiations. Not only would such negotiations be an unproductive use of scarce financial and human resources, but they are certain to put a severe burden on governments and the NGO community to defend the gains of the 1990s and to prevent rollback.
Contrary to the beliefs of some, prior official statements that promise or undertake not to reopen previously agreed conference texts provide no guarantee whatsoever against the weakening of existing agreements. In fact this was exactly the agreed position of every delegation including the Holy See (Vatican delegation) at Cairo+5 and Beijing+5, but there was a dreadful struggle anyway. This happened despite the fact that the US delegation was strongly supportive of women's human rights at that time. Since the Bush administration took over in the US, every negotiation that relates to women's human rights has been the scene of enormous struggle. This includes the HIV/AIDS UNGASS of 2001, the Children's Summit (+10) of 2002, WSSD+10, and most recently at the regional level in the Asia-Pacific Population Conference in Bangkok during December 2002. DAWN together with other organizations and friendly governments had to make a significant investment of time and effort to defend hard-won rights. It would be a major mistake to take this victory as a sign that we can keep doing this at other conferences in the current political climate.
While we are opposed to such official negotiations, we do not rule out other kinds of meetings, or technical reviews and assessments. For example, there could be technical meetings in different parts of the world that would include an assessment of implementation, a map of all monitoring, and what women are experiencing in their lives in the broadest possible context and linkages - an assessment that makes the process better and is compatible for all the regions but which is singularly focused on technically assessing implementation without any official negotiation of conference documents, text, plans of action, etc.
FOR THE SAKE OF OUR HARD WON GAINS, NO OFFICIAL NEGOTIATIONS OF ANY KIND!
Source: DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era)