The World Youth Conference (WYC) closed in León, Mexico last week with frustrated and confused delegates adopting what is being called the Declaration of Guanajuato, which will be presented to the UN (United Nations) General Assembly later this month.
Delegates became increasingly frustrated as they were shut out of the negotiating process. Unlike at the United Nations where meetings are open to any delegation wishing to make amendments, at the WYC delegates were told that meetings were closed and that they should submit written amendments to the “drafting committee,” comprised of a handful of countries.
While some delegations tried to comply with this procedure, tensions built as delegates were unable to locate the drafting committee to submit their proposals and conference volunteers had to scramble to find the room where the drafters were sequestered.
At the final session, several countries complained about the lack of transparency and the chaotic process. When the chairman attempted to force immediate adoption of the declaration, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia and the United States pushed back pointing out that many delegations had not even been able to review the document because of translation delays.
Though still with troubling language, the f inal version of the Declaration of Guanajuato was markedly improved from the previous drafts. Pro-lifer lobbyists and delegations, however, expressed deep concern about a document that was released by the official coalition of youth. The recommendations were submitted to governments for consideration earlier in the week with youth participants pushing for the document to be appended to the official governmental declaration.
Drafted by an elite group of youth delegates, many of whom were handpicked and funded by the pro-abortion UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the recommendations included demands for: a redefinition of gender to include the “spectrum of gender identities” – including “intersex” and “queer,” “comprehensive sexuality education” and “safe abortion.”
One youth delegate from Africa told the Friday Fax, “It seems like some agencies, like UNFPA, are in control of the whole process.” He complained that UNFPA was offering financial backing for youth participants and government delegates alike and using that position to “promote their agenda.” Moreover, he said that during the drafting sessions of the youth document, UNFPA’s presence ”hindered youth delegates from speaking their mind” as the agency brought many of their staff and that he felt “really outnumbered by UNFPA.”
By the close of the conference, confusion over the status of the youth recommendations remained. Some delegations expressed support for attaching the youth recommendations to the governmental declaration, while other countries expressly objected.
The conference chairman tried to ease tensions by telling delegations that they would have until the end of September to register any written reservations to the declaration through their foreign ministries.
One of the organizers of the conference told the Friday Fax that the youth recommendations would not be appended to the governmental declaration when it is presented to the UN later this month. After witnessing the absence of clear procedures for drafting, negotiating or passing documents, many critics are dubious.
The Declaration of Guanajuato will be presented at the United Nations during a high level review of the Millennium Development Goals from September 22 – 25.