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Member States Advance Preparations for MDGs Special Event

28 February 2013: UN Member States have met for a second round of consultations on the preparatory process of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Special Event to follow up efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The first round of consultations took place on 15 February.

Anne Anderson, Permanent Representative of Ireland, and Doctor Mashabane, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa on behalf of Kingsley Mamabolo, Permanent Representative-designate, co-facilitated the Meeting, held in New York, US, on 28 February 2013. Mashabane stressed the need to reach a decision on modalities as soon as possible, so as to allow the Secretariat to finalize the Special Event's organizational matters.

Referring to the draft decision on modalities and proposed outline for the Special Event's format, which were provided by the co-facilitators prior to the meeting, Anderson said these documents take into account the comments and views conveyed so far by Member States. She noted that the draft decision is very short, not very detailed and aimed at ensuring openness and transparency of the event, as requested by UNGA President Vuk Jeremic.

On the format of the Special Event, most delegates agreed with the co-facilitators' proposed format, including an opening and closing plenary meeting and up to four high-level interactive, multi-stakeholder roundtable sessions. However, many delegates questioned the need to adopt a decision on modalities. Some expressed regret that the Event will be held on only one day but conveyed satisfaction that it will take place during the high-level week of the UNGA, so as “to capitalize on the participation of Head of States and Governments”.

Regarding the subjects of discussion during the event, some delegates cited the need to focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to re-energize the MDGs process, particularly the need to: reflect on lessons learned; take stock of MDGs achievements; identify gaps of implementation; and find concrete measures to accelerate efforts towards achieving them by 2015. A suggestion also was made to have two different themes, one for the morning and one for the afternoon sessions, for example on generating political will to accelerate progress for achieve the MDGs; and reviewing lessons learned that could be folded in the discussion related the post-2015 development agenda. The need for convergence between the SDGs and the MDGs was mentioned.

On participation, speakers stressed the need to allow all Member States to deliberate during the roundtables. One group of countries proposed that roundtable sessions be devoted to interventions from Member States, specifying that non-state stakeholders should “follow the procedural rules of the UNGA” and their participation should “not undermine the intergovernmental process.” Others requested large participation on and inclusiveness of round tables, and participation of non-member states and of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), as well as of civil society and other stakeholders. It was also suggested that country statements and comments be circulated in advance and made available online, so as to encourage interactive discussions during the meeting.

On the outcome of the meeting, some asked for an action-oriented, intergovernmental, negotiated outcome document. Others expressed preference for a non-negotiated Chair's Summary, saying this summary could be succinct, focused and forward looking, reflect the achievements and additional work needed on the MDGs, and reaffirm promises to achieve them. Speakers also debated the possibility of the outcome document serving to launch a post-2015 negotiations process.

Concluding the session, Anderson clarified that the event will be under the authority of the UNGA President, and recalled his requests for inclusivity, transparency, ownership and involvement. She added that there is almost a full acceptance for holding the event on one day, on 25 September 2013. She asked delegates to now focus on the process that will lead to the outcome document, rather than on its content.

Anderson proposed, and Member States accepted, to submit the draft decision's paragraphs to the UNGA President, noting it represents “what we judge is the sense of the house." [IISD RS Story on Co-Facilitators' Letter on Second Round on Consultations]  [IISD RS Story on “Food for Thought” Paper for First Round of Consultations] [IISD RS Sources]