TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues
Dear friends and colleagues,
We are pleased to provide
an update of the negotiations on the outcome document for the high-level
plenary meeting on the Millennium Development Goals that will take place
at the UN headquarters in
With five years left in the 15-year implementation period for attaining the MDGs (2000-2015), prospects are not hopeful that the Goals will be met. UN Member States have been engaged in difficult negotiations throughout July. Below is a report on the state of play, with noticeable contention over issues related to climate change and intellectual property rights, among others. The report was written by Maria de Mar Galindo, TWN's New York-based intern.
With best wishes,
Chee Yoke Ling
Millennium Development Goals: Negotiations on a difficult path
The “high level plenary” meeting that will be attended by heads of states and governments aim to review progress over the last five years and accelerate actions at all levels to meet the MDGs.
of the preparatory process at the UN headquarters in
An informal meeting
of the General Assembly was held on 7 June at the UN headquarters in
Member States then
met to insert their proposals, with the G77 and
On 27 July, negotiators concluded a first read-through of the compilation text.
A ‘clean’ text, containing the Co-Facilitators’ proposals for incorporating comments made by delegations during the read-through process, now exists for the first section of the document (paras. 1-41) and for MDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8.
Groups and delegations met on July 28, and the Co-Facilitators proposed that a final read-through of the clean text would take place on 29-30 July, with negotiations extending into the weekend if necessary. The co-facilitators continue to propose that negotiations be concluded by 1 August.
The G77 perceives the clean text to be a second starting point for discussion, not an agreed text. Though they intend to approach this text “positively” during their meetings on 28 July, it seemed unlikely that they will be able to agree to a final draft by the 1 August deadline.
It is possible that the Co-Facilitators will produce a shorter text with fewer controversial points (they have asked delegations to identify their non-negotiable “red lines”, presumably to circumnavigate these) in order to facilitate the production of a final draft by August. Some delegations within the 77 believe that all the time available before the General Assembly should be used to produce the best document possible, and may ask for a renewal of negotiations after a short August recess.
The clean text as it stands contains references to the MDGs in crisis and conflict situations (MDGs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, in particular), but there is no strong focus on this issue, as had been originally proposed by the EU.
Accurate data collection, disaggregation, and dissemination have also been marked as priorities by negotiators for MDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6. This focus on gathering and compiling accurate data presents an opportunity for international agencies to provide support both in terms of capacity building for data collection and dissemination and in terms of direct support for data gathering.
The issue of employment and decent work has been contentious, as delegations seek to define the latter. The text currently mentions decent work as part of MDG 2 and MDG 8, but this will probably be discussed again during the second read-through.
Intellectual property rights (as these relate to MDGs 4, 5, 6 and 8) were also a subject of intense discussion, as were most of the terms and specifics relating to Global Economic Governance.
Developing countries pushed for a yearly UN review of ODA and other donor commitments, but this was rejected, with donor countries calling for equal accountability from developing countries and highlighting the complex review systems already in place domestically in donor countries.
The G77 sought to secure
a reference to aid without conditionalities and which was tuned to national
priorities; though the latter was supported by donor countries, the
issue of conditionality, accountability, and mutual commitment was a
serious point of contention (with delegations agreeing to return to
it in the second read-through). The text does currently refer to the
elimination of “onerous” conditionalities (
The text also makes
reference to a positive conclusion to the
In terms of MDG 7, the issue of whether energy should be included under the banner of sustainable development was also controversial; delegations agreed that there should be “diffusion of energy technologies”, but donor countries pushed for mention for triangular and South-South cooperation, rejecting mention of “technology transfer” as problematic.
Though the UN Department
of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) supported a mention of technology
transfer, citing the appearance of the term elsewhere in UN documentation,
and suggested that the terms of this technology transfer should
be what were agreed by MDG negotiators, donor countries (particularly
An attempt by the European Union to include a reference to a specific conclusion to the process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (limiting global emissions to 2 degrees Celsius) was unsuccessful.
The overall back-and-forth that has marked the negotiations has involved developed countries continuing to push for national ownership and domestic resource mobilisation, and developing countries seeking to secure aid and donor country support. Though developing countries have made concessions in terms of domestic accountability, the G77’s attempts to secure commitments from donor countries to meet ODA and other agreements have either been rejected or edited to avoid specific commitments.
An attempt by the G77 to produce a text that made tailored references to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Sub-Saharan African countries and other particularly vulnerable regions or groups of countries was rejected. Though the first section of the text does include a general section on each of these groups, specific MDG vulnerabilities have not been highlighted (and may therefore be overlooked). A mention of SIDS’ vulnerability to climate change, for example, has not been included in the document, with delegations in opposition arguing that too much mention of specific country groups would result in an unmanageably long document.
If the 1 August deadline is maintained, it seems unlikely that a text making reference to any specific outcomes can be produced, as Member States especially the G77 will need to conduct in-group discussions.
With little progress made on concrete commitments, there is a risk that the final text (whether this text is a shorter text proposed by the Co-Facilitators in order to expedite the negotiations process or some version of the current clean text) will be extremely general in nature.+
Maria de Mar Galindo
is an intern with Third World Network based in
Note: The MDGs are as follows with selected targets and
GOAL 1:ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY & HUNGER
GOAL 2:ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION
GOAL 3:PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWER WOMEN
GOAL 4:REDUCE CHILD MORTALITY
GOAL 5:IMPROVE MATERNAL HEALTH
GOAL 6:COMBAT HIV/AIDS, MALARIA AND OTHER DISEASES
GOAL 7:ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
GOAL 8:DEVELOP A GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT