[Stop-traffic] News/Beijing +5Sexual Rights for Women Bog Down U.N. Meeting

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Beijing +5Sexual Rights for Women Bog Down U.N. Meeting
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Jul 25 2000 - 09:46:48 EDT


Dear list,

This report is pretty accurate, except when discussing trafficking.
Trafficking was a very problematic issue, it even had its own small
working group. A few very vocal countries wanted to include
voluntary prostitution into trafficking. As trafficking must include
force, coercion or deception - voluntary activity should not be
include in the definition. I still really don't understand why
people want to include a voluntary activity into trafficking. So, if
we include voluntary migration for voluntary prostitution, why don't
we just include voluntary migration for voluntary work in another
industry as trafficking - because it just doesn't work that way.

Melanie
__________________

                  Sexual Rights for Women Bog Down U.N. Meeting

RTos 6/9/00 6:11 AM

Reuters Ltd.

     By Deborah Zabarenko
      UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Negotiators hammering out a U.N. plan to
improve women's lives wrangled over sexual rights and the handling of
domestic violence on Friday in the waning hours of a five-day global
conference.
      In an all-night debate that reminded one activist of "theater of the
absurd," a coalition of women's health and rights advocates blamed the
Vatican and a handful of mostly Islamic states for obstructing progress on
a final document.
      A U.S. official who monitored the negotiations said a range of issues
were unsettled in Friday's early hours, from the treatment of those who
commit violence against women to such issues of sexual freedom as
adolescent sexuality to gender discrimination and abortion.
      However, the official was optimistic that representatives from some
180 countries, with input from more than 1,200 activist groups, would reach
consensus on a document that was to build on a previous pivotal women's
conference in Beijing five years ago. The official spoke on condition of
anonymity.
      The Beijing gathering produced a Platform for Action, which included a
list of 12 challenges for the world's women, from the feminization of
poverty to treatment of girls. The current New York meeting was convened to
issue specific targets, including timetables, for implementing the Beijing
program.
      Women's health and human rights advocates have complained throughout
the current meeting that the Vatican, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, Algeria and
Nicaragua have stalled progress, and even tried to erode strong language in
the Beijing document.
      Poland, which has clashed on women's rights with the European Union
which it hopes to join, also was on the conservative side. And Kenya at
times joined this group.
      In response Catholic groups accused the West of trying to put radical
concepts into a new document that were not contained in the Beijing
platform.
      With time running out, U.S. delegates said they expected the new
document would repeat much of the language used in Beijing rather than
trying to insert new analysis.
      Under arcane U.N. procedures conference documents are devised through
consensus, rather than a vote, which nearly every country can veto.
      While the agreements are non-binding, they are widely used to set
global standards for regional and international bodies as well as by
activists lobbying their respective governments to implement legislation
accordingly.

      'THEATER OF THE ABSURD'
      "The worst thing that has been happening this week is the sense of
deja vu, that this small handful of countries consistently sought to block
consensus and drop the negotiations into a sort of theater of the absurd,
where basic ideas, such as the idea of women's rights as human rights, are
questioned," said Amparo Claro, of the Latin American and Caribbean Women's
Health Network in Chile.
      Kathy Martinez of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Law and
Policy echoed those sentiments, but also saw progress on HIV/AIDS regarding
women, punishment for marital rape, and the idea of granting refugee status
to women who have faced persecution because of their gender.
      Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, fresh from a trip to the Middle
East, addressed the formal session in the General Assembly on Thursday,
specifically targeting violence against women and trafficking in human
beings.
      Albright, who attended the Beijing conference, said it was no longer
possible to justify some abuses against women as part of a cultural
tradition.
      "When a woman is raped, beaten or mutilated it is not cultural, it is
criminal. And no government after Beijing can deny its responsibility to
stop these crimes," she said.
      The issue of trafficking has not generally been a problem in
negotiations. But the meetings have been heated over domestic abuse,
marital rape and "honor" killings of women who "shame" the family as a
definition of violence.
      U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement, expressed concern
that important parts of the document were unresolved.
      Responding to complaints that some states were trying to reverse gains
made in Beijing, Annan said it was important that any new document
"maintains in full all of the commitments" agreed on Beijing."

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