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At UN, Friday Turns Saturday on Sexual Rights Fights, CPD47 Surpasses 46

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 11-12 -- It was just another Friday night at the UN, this time a fight over the Commission on Population and Development. Again, the culture wars: a dispute over "sexual and reproductive health" and rights.

  It was past 11 pm. The Permanent Representative of Kenya, this month's chair of the African Group, said there would be no sleight of hand solution. He went into Conference Room A with other Permanent Representatives, including those of Norway and then of Cameroon, who told Inner City Press that "in African we don't do Programs of Action, we do Declarations." It would be another long night.

  In Egypt's delegation again was Mervat Tallaway, of which Inner City Press previously reported when she headed ESCWA in Beirut.

  Others noted the irony that the UN Population Fund, UNFPA, is headed by Babatunde Osotimehin of Nigeria but his country is taking a different view. This split was contrasted, for example, with elsewhere in the UN system Frenchman Herve Ladsous using his post atop UN Peacekeeping to serve France. "That's not the UN," a Permanent Representative said. But for now it is.

  Meanwhile when UNFPA's Representative in Sudan was thrown out on April 7, the UN tried to say nothing. Inner City Press wrote about it, went to the noon briefing and asked, and only after that got a (non) statement from UNFPA. What's next?

  While as increasingly often in the UN there was little media coverage, Inner City Press and another reporter were told they could not enter Conference Room 1 through its front door. The Free UN Coalition for Access objected; access was gained.

During the lull several Ambassadors came to speaking about "the Burundi cable," here. Some predicted that the SRSG might be tossed out even before the UN's mandate expires at the end of the year.

  Down on the floor of Conference Room 1, a delegate noted that now CPD47 had surpassed "last year when we ended at 13 minutes after midnight." And there was no end in sight. This is the UN. Watch this site.


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