11.9 Don’t reinvent the wheel

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Framing language around past commitments from other UN conventions, processes, resolutions, CSW Resolutions, BPFA and CEDAW and using already accepted language is, by far, one of the best ways to persuade governments to insert specific language. This takes a lot of work and preparation.  The easiest way to do this is to:

  • tightly define what you are looking at. Get to the root of the issue,
  • examine the BPFA, CEDAW, any other Conventions and Treaties that may be reflected in what is acceptable at ECOSOC,
  • examine past CSW Resolutions on the thematic area of the issue,
  • pick up the language already agreed in the above documents, and make a brief explanation as to why this language should be there.
Issue Suggested language Where in document it should be inserted UN Reference Justification
BPFA G (a)CEDAWOther CSW and UN Resolutions

Table 6.Possible framework for language justification.

Finding past Resolutions and other UN documents can be challenging. Past CSW Resolutions can be found on the CSW website under the Commission Session. Some other documents may be more challenging to find. In Australia we have a wonderful network of organisations who work regularly with UN processes and documentation, and many experienced individuals who may be able to assist with where to find specific area documentation. A list of organisations who regularly attend CSW, who have experience in finding UN data, and have agreed to be contacted in regard to CSW can be found in the Resource section of this Guide.

Below are some tips for trying to get your issue reflected in the Agreed Conclusions from CSW:

  • Be prepared to work hard and respond quickly to language requests.
  • Framing language around past commitments from other UN Conventions, processes, Resolutions, CSW Resolutions, BPFA and CEDAW and using already accepted language is one way to persuade governments to insert specific language.
  • Be really clear on the issue: Keep it to one sentence and type that sentence up many times and hand it to each member of the Australian Delegation and any other sympathetic government representatives.
  • Less is Best: Try to keep the suggested language as short as possible. Even one or two words may be acceptable,  given the challenges and pressures to progress any language changes to the document.
  • Be inclusive: Use the Caucuses to work on language. Many people working on one sentence may reap more rewards. If you are there as a large international delegation, still work with the Caucuses to share your position and language for input/support.
  • While talking with the Australian Government Delegates at the CSW a roundtable or pre-departure briefing about the gist of what should be reflected as well as the language is important, ideally you should be engaging with OfW on CSW year-round and not waiting until the last minute.
  • It’s not worth getting stuck on one specific piece of language. As long as the substance of what you want is reflected in the document, you can use that when you come back to Australia to develop concrete actions around the commitment.
  • Have clear questions to raise around your issue to address in High Level Panel meetings and Side Events.

Change occurs slowly at the UN and CSW is no different. Be happy to get one word inserted into the document that you can use to build concrete actions from.