Friday, August 27, 2010
"The World March of youth" - we started at the city's central arch and marched towards the conference centre.
As I have mentioned before, the whole World Youth Conference has been at best a little chaotic and at worst completely shambolic. Here are 5 lessons to learn about how NOT to organise a Government Forum:
- Hospitality: Invite the Minister of Education for Brazil to speak at the opening ceremony and then don’t call on him to give his presentation. Yes this really happened! As a result Brazil withdrew from being the vice chair of the meeting.
- Communication: Nominate countries to be part of the drafting committee without telling them, or letting anyone know why they were picked. The list of countries who would be part of the board were read out and a number of them complained saying “I had no idea that I would be doing this and therefore have not prepared – how was I chosen?” The decision was quickly made to let governments meet in regional groupings to choose their own representatives.
- Transparency: Say that you would like to take comments on the draft Declaration from the various government delegations but these will be included or excluded on the decision (whim?) of the Chair (i.e. the Mexican Government). An interesting take on a democratic decision making process.
- Accountability: Close the Declaration drafting process to observers – but still let the World Youth Council and the Holy See be involved whilst barring anyone who is apparently too progressive, such as UNFPA who had been helping to facilitate the drafting working groups.
- Participation: Hold a two day NGO meeting made up of youth representatives and then completely disregard their declaration as it seemed to be too progressive. The board were told explicitly by a Mexican government representative "There is no need to take into account the NGO declaration, that is not why you are here. This will be included as an annex which will be sufficient." An interesting take on meaningfully involving youth!
As a result of the above, the outcome of the conference is currently very much in jeopardy. It is uncertain whether there will be an agreed upon Declaration as a number of the government delegates are getting very frustrated at the lack of transparency and chaotic organisation of the meeting. However, many others feel that any Declaration is better than no Declaration and will vote on whatever text is put before them.
Currently the best possible outcome is for the Conference is for there to be no Government Declaration but for the Governments Forum to formally recognise the NGO declaration. As I mentioned before, the NGO declaration is by no means perfect, but is a darn sight better than the draft Government Declaration!
All will be made clear tomorrow!
Although many UN entities and Governments are very happy about the NGO
statement it is too controversial for our hosts, meaning that we are
experiencing trouble distributing it (the support to go to the Legislators
Forum [taking place in Mexico City] to present it has for example been
We are also experiencing that delegates to the Government meeting (Mexican delegates - and they had TEN seats) are distributing alternative documents presented as the statement and so on. It is important for us to get this document, which is the true one, out there, so please share it on websites, send it to your member organisations and governments etc. We do have many supporters amongst governments pushing for the inclusion of paragraphs and points from the declaration in the Governments declaration - but the more recognition world-wide the better.
Clearly none of us are 100 per cent happy with the content - but we are organisations with democratic traditions and respect that this is the final outcome. We need to mass mobilize a bit now, and we in the Social Forum Organizing Committee trust in
your support :-)
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the text is weak in places. However, it is one heck of a lot better than the "alternative" versions which have been circulated as official copies. As soon as I have a link to the document - I will add it as mentioned in the email.
I need to run to my meeting - more later!!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
This morning, the recommendations were presented to the Government Forum by 10 of the NGO delegates (one of which was our very own Katie Chau). The Forum is made up of the 100+ government delegations whose job it is to finalise the high-level World Youth Conference Declaration by Friday.
In the Global Interactive forum, the themes for today were Education, Sustainable Development and Culture. A UNESCO organised session on comprehensive sexuality education and we were concerned there would be a lot of disruption in the session. Whilst a lot of people turned up who were against teaching school children about sex, they listened respectfully to the presentations and there was a lively debate afterwards. Progress!!
The other key event for today was a march for youth rights. Many of the groups were arguing for sexual rights (like IPPF!), LGBT rights and the right to a safe abortion. The organisers were very worried about security during the march and had received guarantees from the police that we would be protected. This was the case and about 200 people marched through the streets of Leon. However – due to the sensitive nature of the topics we were shouting about in this conservative town – the march had not been widely promoted and therefore there was hardly anyone watching, apart from the local media (which included at least two Mexican TV crews and a number of newspaper reporters/photographers!).
Unfortunately, I cannot currently post any pictures from the march. Whilst I took loads, I used the IPPF-WHR camera which I gave back. I’ll try and post the photo’s tomorrow if I can download them...
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Here is a flavour about what has been happening today:
Showcasing the Love, Life and HIV DVD: the video was shown this morning on the main stage of the Global Interactive Forum followed by some short interviews with three of the participants from the videos. The showing of the DVD video, only being partially in Spanish, didn’t have a huge audience (40 people or so) given that 85% of the people currently in the Global Interactive Forum are from Latin America. However, as soon as we began the interviews, we gathered a crowd of 150 people or so. The interviews were great as they clearly touched on some of the key issues faced by young people living with HIV such as:
“In Mexico people are not very friendly to people living with HIV – the stigma and discrimination is very strong. Please here do not know how to treat you and make you feel like you are a bad person because of your status.”
“Being an adolescent living with HIV was very difficult. At school, people didn’t want to talk to me or have anything to do with me. I just wanted to be a normal teenager
like they were. It was very difficult for me.”
“I have been living with HIV for four years and have decided that if I want, I can live a completely normal life. Living with HIV is not much different to living with any other illness.”
Legal Abortion Flash-mob: similar to yesterday we organised a short protest to turn some heads. This time the topic was on the right of women to a legal safe abortion. Whilst the idea was very simple (35 people walking through the conference centre in silence holding placards with various messages and statistics about unsafe abortion), it was an effective demonstration and landed up with a lot of media interest. By this I mean a bit of a scrum around the organiser Oriana (see picture to the left!). It will be interesting what the papers say tomorrow.
UNAIDS outcome framework: this afternoon I attended a session introducing the UNAIDS outcome framework 2009 – 2011. Whilst I was aware of this document, I hadn’t clocked its importance in terms of working with young people given that one of the 10 priority areas is “We can empower young people to protect themselves from HIV”. This is certainly something I’m going to be reading a bit more about over the next few weeks. To read more about it see http://data.unaids.org/pub/BaseDocument/2010/jc1713_joint_action_en.pdf
This is all the information at the moment as negotiations are still ongoing at the NGO forum and I don’t have the latest. I’ll write about this further tomorrow!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
- Governments forum: From Wednesday (25th) to Friday (27th), 47 ministers of youth and education from around the world and 103 government delegations will meet to discuss a high-level declaration around the 11 themes of the conference (see below). The final declaration will be presented for countries to sign at the next UN General Assembly.
- NGO forum: To ensure youth participation in the process, 400 young people (two per country) have been selected to meet for two days to drafting recommendations for what should be included in the declaration. This meeting takes place on Monday (23rd) and Tuesday (24th). There are a number of IPPF youth representatives from across the Federation who are a part of this.
- Global Interactive Forum: This is open to the general public and includes 270 parallel sessions (round tables, youth dialogues, lectures and workshops) on the 11 themes of the conference as well as an exhibition hall and cultural activities.
What are the 11 themes of the conference? They are as follows:
5. Gender equality
6. Technology and innovation
8. Access to justice and security
10. Sustainable development
11. International Migration
What stage is the Declaration at? A draft of the Government Declaration has already been prepared by the Mexican Government and has been reviewed by the UN. Even though it is still in a draft state, it has already been subject to a lot of lobbying and change. For example, in one of the latest rounds of changes, a key paragraph on young people’s right to access sexual and reproductive health services was recently removed. Text on sexuality education is still in the draft but is one area that is being strongly objected to. Therefore, the negotiations and advocacy work over the next few days are important!
What has happened so far: Each day of the Conference has a theme. Monday’s theme was “poverty and international migration”. However, given the poor state of organisation for the conference so far, no programme for these sessions currently exists (though one did finally go up online after lunch!). And for those involved in activities at the Global Interactive Forum, most of the morning was spent registering! However, the teething problems seem to be being ironed out!
Turning some heads: In order to create a bit more noise in the chaos that is the Global Interactive Forum and to raise the issue of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), we organised a short flash mob demonstration at lunchtime, spelling out the initials “CSE” and “ESI” (Spanish for CSE!) with our bodies whilst some statements about how important it is were read out in English and Spanish to the groups who gathered around us. Apart from it drawing the obvious crowd, a lot of people started asking questions about CSE which is no bad thing!!
Looking ahead: Today is the health day and IPPF have four sessions scheduled including:
- “Love life and HIV” screening: young people living with HIV sharing their experiences, dreams and desires for the future. This will be followed by three of those featured in the video talking about their own experiences and taking questions from the audience.
- Exclaim: Youth perspectives on sexual rights. This youth dialogue will bring together young people from various regions to discuss what sexual rights mean to young people and how to translate these rights into concrete actions.
- A training workshop on sexual rights, HIV and advocacy for young people by young people.
- Young People: autonomy and confidentiality in health services
This is the day that will focus most of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people. I’m looking forward to it!
Monday, August 23, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Why are we going? The main goal of IPPF’s participation at the WYC is to ensure that governments, parliamentarians, youth leaders and NGOs recognize young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights as critical priorities for development.
The conference will have considerable impact and influence. As such, IPPF believes it is important for a large number of progressive young people to participate at the conference to ensure the outcomes reflect rights-based perspectives on young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender and sexuality.
For more information about the conference visit http://www.youth2010.org/ (the website is in English, Spanish and French)