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International Negotiations *


Reaching Consensus: Negotiating the Documents

The documents that will represent the outcome of the Special Session are still under negotiation. Giving form and detail to the outcome documents is a process of negotiation and decision-making within and among Member States. These decisions are made in a variety of sessions including general debates, plenaries, panels, and closed working and informal groups. Often, these entail protracted negotiations and compromises in order to reach decisions and resolutions that will be contained in a report to be adopted at the conclusion of the meeting. The aim of the negotiations is to develop a text that all Member States will adopt by consensus.

Finding a way to influence what is included in these documents is a particular challenge. The following is a rough description of the different phases of a typical negotiating process that applies to PrepComs, Special Sessions, and other UN inter-governmental meetings:

Government Negotiating Groups

Some government negotiating groups are well established in the UN system, such as the Group of 77 (G-77). Others, such as the European Union, are formal institutions both within and outside the UN system. A number of Member States tend to operate independently of negotiating blocks or in association with them. Below are some of the most common negotiating groups. These are continually evolving.

Negotiations within any particular UN meeting may reflect not only the concerns of governments regarding that specific issue, but also echo the wider geopolitical context within which any issue or set of issues is framed.
For example, finance for development issues and relations between South and North are being reflected in negotiations on numerous issues more or less closely related to questions of finance.



* based on:

NGO Steering Committee to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, 1999. Guide to the 7th Session.

UNIFEM, 2000: Gender on the Agenda. A Guide to Participating in  Beijing+5.


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