Overview by Georgios Plevris, Research Associate PILPG-NL
Draft resolution on African States withdrawal: South Africa wished to add an extension at the end of the sentence, reading “[reconsider their decision] and requests the bureau to remain seized with deliberations on Article 97 and all other matters as reflected to decisions taken in the 15th Assembly of States Parties”.
No consensus has been reached on extending or reducing the number of days allocated to next year’s ASP.
In its Monday session, the Working Group in the Omnibus Resolution resumed their discussion on the matters of the Draft Resolution. The first delegation to take the floor, South Africa, proposed an addition to OP1bis of Slovenia’s draft proposal with regard to African States withdrawal reference in the Resolution. While noting there are no residual issues with the language, South Africa wished to add an extension at the end of the sentence, reading “ [reconsider their decision] and requests the bureau to remain seized with deliberations on Article 97 and all other matters as reflected to decisions taken in the 15th Assembly of States Parties”.
The Working Group then turned to the debate surrounding the working methods of the ASP, and how to improve its efficiency. The discussion on the number of days the ASP will last was back on the table, and not much progress took place to that end. The Group was still divided between delegations that wanted to extend the ASP by two more days for next year, to cover the election of the judges, delegations that wanted to reduce the ASP by one day, from eight to seven, and delegations that wanted to maintain the format as it is. The two days extension was an issue that confused many representatives, as in the proposal submitted was unclear if that would be just for the election of the judges or in general a two-day extension of the ASP. Costa Rica raised the issue that the NY session had rejected the two-days proposal, as it was too prescriptive, yet it was not clear what the Working group was negotiating; the language was not explicit. Belgium argued that moving forward with the proposals heard at the moment would be troubling, due to the fact that dedicating two days for elections, one for the 20th anniversary that will be an additional agenda item for next year, two days for open debate and working group sessions, will lead to chaos in trying to fit all the rest of the activities in remaining three.
However, many delegations supported the proposal. UK argued that the two days extra are to be dedicated exclusively on judges, to provide the ASP with a heads start, so as not to be overtaken by the election process. It will be an important matter, and the UK delegate expressed its wish to see a consensus on this topic. Netherlands and Australia were also supportive of the proposal on the working methods, and to that end Australia put forth a statement of principle to be included in the proposal, that would read “[..] decides that its annual session shall be limited to the minimum number of days necessary to complete its work”. Mexico and Uruguay also were in line with the proposal, and pointed out that the format should be the ASP to be reduced from eight to seven days, and only add two more days when its election year.
Chile disagreed partially, and underlined the financial and time costs of the matter. Thus they could only support a reduction from eight to seven days, and even proposed to go through the proposal paragraph by paragraph. The facilitator noticed the disagreement and lack of decision in the room and thus suggested that this be re-discussed in the next session and in smaller groups, and encouraged all delegations to provide written statements with their further proposals. The Working Group managed to also reach agreements on further paragraphs and items of the Resolution, including the role and evaluation of the Bureau and Facilitators, the oversight mechanism, and the proposal by Brazil on the time management of the initial debate, that consisted of no more than five minutes per speech, and submitting written instead of oral statements.