Beijing and Beyond
AUGUST 26, 2005
2:29 PM

CONTACT: Beijing and Beyond
Mahdis Keshavarz, 212.260.5000

International Womens Groups Tell Ambassador Bolton to Back Off
Accuses Bolton of Undermining Progress and Months of Work by Nations and NGO’s To Develop Global Vision
NEW YORK - August 26 - The Gender Monitoring Group of the World Summit-an alliance of three leading non-governmental women’s rights and development organizations--DAWN, The Center for Women’s Global Leadership and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)—today expressed deep concern over recent comments by new US Ambassador John Bolton regarding finalization of the crucial outcomes document of the United Nations 2005 World Summit. The organizations, which represent and work with women from around the world, have been actively involved over the past six months in the process leading to the World Summit on September 14-16 with a particular interest in ensuring that proposals before the world leaders include a gender perspective.

At the eleventh hour US Ambassador John Bolton is proposing last minute changes to the draft plan, which would undermine the draft Outcome Document. Bolton’s proposed changes would weaken proposals for development, debt relief, Official Development Assistance (ODA), disarmament, and the environment. The Gender Monitoring Group argues that the United States’ demands for line-by-line negotiations on the whole text, or alternatively, a short summary text, will in fact inhibit a successful outcome at this late stage, and could even unravel the entire Summit process.

“This latest move by U.S. Ambassador Bolton puts us back on the merry go round once again just as we were about to cross the finish line. This tired tactic by the United States to wait until the eleventh hour of a year long negotiation to demand drastic revisions is simply a subterfuge for undermining the entire process. Clearly, they don't want reform that will result in a stronger UN. We saw this same approach of hijacking the conference during the ten year review of the Beijing Platform for Action. But the countries of the world stood firm despite threats and bullying by the U.S. We believe most of the world's leaders remain committed to comprehensive reform which links human rights, development and peace and security as the central mission of a revitalized United Nations” said June Zeitlin, Executive Director of WEDO.

"If what the US says is true - that it wants the Summit to be a success on UN management reform, peace, democracy and human rights - then the US cannot suddenly, three weeks before the Summit, push to scrap or completely revise the draft Document - a Document into which the US has already had major input. The US amendments would seriously weaken the text on issues like sustainable development, debt relief, financial assistance to poor countries, the environment, responsibility to protect civilians from war crimes, and disarmament... to name a few" said Françoise Girard of DAWN.

What’s at stake for women are all the promises of equality, empowerment and women’s human rights contained in CEDAW (the “Women’s Rights” treaty), the Beijing Platform for Action, Cairo Programme of Action and other government agreements of the 1990s. Women are concerned that their voices will not be fully heard and their perspectives will not be fully incorporated into the proposals that come out of the World Summit