UN drastically curtails women’s conference for 12,000 people

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations is drastically curtailing a conference that had been expected to bring up to 12,000 people from its 193 member nations to New York next week for a major women’s conference because of the spread of COVID-19 virus.

The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women decided Monday to hold a one-day event on March 9 so delegations in New York can adopt a draft political declaration commemorating the 25th anniversary of the U.N. conference in Beijing that adopted a wide-ranging plan to achieve equality for women.

But the commission decided to postpone the major event to a future date to be determined, when delegations from all countries and non-governmental organizations can attend.

The commission stressed that there will be no debate on March 9, and all side events will be cancelled. It discouraged delegations from all capitals from coming to New York for the March 9 event.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had recommended Saturday that the meeting be drastically scaled back and limited to participants based in New York.

His recommendation was based on advice from the U.N.’s Senior Emergency Policy Team and very close consultations between the U.N. Medical Services and the World Health Organization, which is a U.N. agency, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The commission held a more than two hour meeting Monday to discuss the secretary-general’s recommendation.

Its decision went further after protests from a significant number of countries.

Instead of having New York-based diplomats hold the conference, the commission decided to curtail the event to a single day so the political declaration could be adopted — while delaying the main event to a future date.

South Africa and many other countries had stressed the importance of the Beijing commemoration, and the importance of delegations from all countries being able to attend — not just diplomats in New York.

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