Today was the first full day of actual government negotiations at Prepcom III, with some interesting developments during the day.
I was observing Sub-committee B, chaired by the always entertaining Lyndall Shope-Mafole of South Africa. Sub-committee B is tasked with completing negotiations of basically all the text to go to Tunis for approval with the exception of Internet Governance. Quite a daunting task in two weeks.
The chair employed a unique methodology for the session, going paragraph by paragraph, proposed change by proposed change. The interesting thing was that contributions by governments and NGOs were considered equally and at the same time. Some civil society contributions were deleted, others were included as bracketed text and others were included as non-bracketed text.
Several times Ralf Bendrath and I were tempted to put up our hands to protest when particular civil society proposals were deleted. But alas we were just observers.
The governments were quite confused by the methodology, at first, unsure if they were able to propose new text or just deal with already proposed text.
Another important innovation was that civil society was able to divide up its 15 minute speaking slot into one speaker at the beginning and one speaker at the end of the session, allowing us time to respond to how the government negotiations were going.
Progress was slow, despite Lyndall being quite a taskmaster of a chair. And we haven’t even gotten to any of the difficult paragraphs yet. We’ll see how they handle the trickier sections on implementation and follow-up to Tunis.
Meanwhile Sub-Committee A dealing with Internet Governance did not make much progress today, with many delegations just making their general opening interventions without any real negotiating taking place. What is worrying is that they have NO draft text yet, leaving us wondering how they will successful complete the entire chapter on Internet Governance by next Friday.