The UN: “Unlimited Negotiation”?

By: Edith Esinam Asamani, Women Deliver Young Leader and Dance4Life Ghana

Does the building with almost 200 colourful flags by the East River in New York City sound familiar to you? Well, if it does, you deserve to know that this building became even more popular these past few weeks as the new global blueprint for sustainable development was finalized.

Walking into the United Nations in the final week of the intergovernmental negotiations for the Post-2015 framework - the sustainable development agenda – conjured mixed feelings for me. I now call it the July 27-31 feelings. On one hand, I knew failure was not an option. Our Member States must listen to us. Our missions must understand that marginalized people matter and that their concerns must be addressed. The next global development framework must enhance and strengthen commitments to youth, women, persons with disability and other marginalized groups. On the other hand, as I was walking into the negotiations, I was thinking about how much investment, both financial and otherwise, had been made by organisations to ensure civil society, women, youth, persons with disability, trade unions and indigenous people were able to participate in finalizing the text of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What if our governments do not listen? What would it mean for the next 15 years if our voices are not heard now?

The Word Game

In the last days of the multi-year negotiations on the sustainable development agenda, all parts of the text were still in flux. Governments were negotiating the framing, making additions and subtractions of texts in the preamble, the goals, and the targets. It 

was like a word game. Member States and blocs were throwing in words which were favourable to them and deleting those ones which made them feel uncomfortable. The game was filled with tension as some text lauded by some Member States or blocs as paramount made other Member States or blocs feel uncomfortable and object.

Why We Needed To Show Up!

In the end, some of the most favourable wording in the document was enacted because of civil society engagement and lobbying. I personally played a key role in the negotiations through influencing text on adolescents and youth by working directly with Member States and through aiding in drafting of statements on made by the Major Group on Children and Youth (MGCY). 

The working group statements and individual lobbying have pushed for strong language on comprehensive sexuality education, data disaggregation, adolescent and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services, gender equality, the empowerment of girls and women, and youth participation.

Briefing the Press

On 28 July 2015, the United Nations Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) held a press briefing entitled “How to Make the Post-2015 Agenda Succeed.” Statements were made by the MGCY, the Women's Major Group (WMG) and a representative for indigenous peoples as well as other civil society representatives. I made the statement on behalf of the MGCY and the translated the goals to real stories; my story and those of the many young people I spoke on behalf of.

All of the major groups spoke the same language: After all is said and done, we need a clear ACCOUNTABILITY framework and Member States must COMMIT FUNDING to the implementation of the SDGs.

New Partnerships, New Networks

The weeks were long and stressful but the beauty of these meetings is that you easily form new partnerships (and friendships) with youth and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) advocates. The partnership transcends the meetings. The networks you develop become a source of technical, human, and financial support when you need them.

What Next?

Currently 17 goals and 169 targets have been outlined and the final framework (the Sustainable Development Agenda) has been informally adopted. The text was agreed on after a series of unlimited negotiations on framing, content, words, and even letters and punctuation which took place over long days and even some long nights. From now till March 2016, government negotiations will continue discussing which global-level indicators are will be used to track progress towards the achievement of the SDGs. Strong indicators will be needed to ensure states address issues which effect girls, adolescents, youth and women including those with disabilities, with special attention towards ensuring their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It now becomes imperative that countries to engage us, young people, in the drafting, planning and implementation of national level strategies for the SDGs. As an advocate, make sure you are involved!

It has been proposed that countries should hold national reviews on the SDGs regularly. That makes sense, doesn’t it? How else will we know the pace at which we are moving towards the SDGs if we do not review our progress TOGETHER!

As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) bow out in September, we must ensure that we learn from our mistakes from the past 15 years of its implementation. There must be clear strategies for holding governments accountable to the implementation of the SDGs and states must also commit to providing resources - human, technical and financial. Only then can the lives of the 1.8 billion young people that exist today be transformed.

Entry Comments

    • Sep 18
    • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Nice one Edith!!

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