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Posted on on May 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

At UN, Right to Info Stripped from Rio + 20, Extra Week Set, Indigenous Silenced?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 4 — In the run up to the Rio + 20 conference, on Friday evening at the UN yet another week of negotiations was arranged, for May 29 to June 2.

Four hundred paragraphs remain without agreement; Inner City Press asked about those dealing with the “right to information,” switched by the US to “legitimate access” to information, limited by trade secrets, patents and copyright.

After Friday night’s deferral, the nine “Major Groups” were given two minutes each to speak. The Indigenous group, which started speaking in Spanish about la Madre Tierra or Pachamama, was cut off by the chair and told to speak in English. Ultimately this was translated by the Local Authorities group.

Still the Groups hit hard, with Farmers criticizing the mention of the World Trade Organization in the agriculture section, and the Youth group denouncing greenwashing (if not Blue-washing, in a week where Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Myanmar congratulated a company involved in spying technology, as exposed by Inner City Press.)

At the front of the room was outgoing DESA chief Sha Zukang, urging that at least 90% of the text be agreed before Rio begins. China has put in two names to replace Sha, but Brazil is pushing hard now for the DESA post, as Inner City Press exclusively reported yesterday.

Now, this update: China might accept the top post at the Department of General Assembly and Conference Affairs as long as it also got the Number Two post in DESA, at the Assistant Secretary General level.

But then what would sub Saharan Africa get? The Department of Public Information has, as Inner City Press reported, been promised to a European. And so it goes at the UN.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Inner City Press asked about the right to information that was in Rio Principle 10. The response, from Neth Dano of the ETC Group of the Philippines, was that “one delegation” pushed to limited the right to only “legitimate” information.

Inner City Press asked her to name that delegation, but she declined. Afterward she said it was the US, “from the State Department.” Meanwhile, the US was expected to make a statement on Friday night about no more funding – will that now come on June 2?

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