|(c) Jesper Waldersten|
Day Two of the Fourth Prepcom continued the discussions held on the first day with respect to the draft Rules of Procedure for the July Diplomatic Conference. There was general agreement (but not quite unanimity) that NGOs should be allowed to address the Conference more than just once. It is not known if the inconsistency in the draft Rules of Procedure was entirely accidental when the text of Rule 63(d) stated that:
"Representatives of accredited non-governmental organizations will be allowed to address the Conference during one meeting specifically allocated for this purpose. These meetings will not coincide with other meetings of the Conference;"
The first sentence says meeting (singular), whereas the second sentence says meetings (plural).
The main focus of discussion during Day Two, however, was the rules governing decision-making for the negotiation and adoption of the treaty in July. There was little narrowing of positions, but some interesting statements by a number of states that favour consensus whereby consensus does not mean "unanimity" (e.g. Vietnam) and that consensus should not allow a state to veto the treaty without any reason (e.g. China). The US, which insisted on the word "consensus" being included in the text of General Assembly resolution 64/48, accepts the wording of the draft Rules of Procedure, which includes provision for possible voting during the Diplomatic Conference other than on the adoption of the final treaty.
An interesting intervention by Peru set out the Non-Aligned Movement's definition of consensus, which does not mean only unanimity, but can encompass an "overwhelming majority", thereby preventing a single state or a very small number effectively wielding a veto. Peru stated that the conference could not "allow a minority to ruin the negotiations."
Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica stated that Rule 33(1)--whereby "The Conference shall make every effort to ensure that all its substantive decisions are taken by consensus."--reflected their understanding of the meaning "on the basis of consensus" in General Assembly resolution 64/48.
The Chair again convened informal consultations among delegations in the last 90 minutes of the day to see if progress could be made towards an agreement on the issue of decision-making.