COP8 Day 4 High Stakes are Clear as Terminator "Negotiations" Begin

by Lucy Sharratt

Discussions on Terminator at the UN COP started this afternoon - actually they started this morning as governments kept intervening to make statements on Terminator, even though the discussions were on another agenda item.

With a Chair who demonstrated great understanding and facilitation skills yesterday when he recognized and thanked the Via Campesina for thier protest in the negotiation hall, Indigenous Peoples were given time to fully express their stance on Terminator.

The high stakes of Terminator and the true meaning of the "case by case risk assessment" of Terminator should now be clear to all delegates. The mood in the room is serious and concentrated on the Terminator issue.

Delegates came in this morning and took stickers saying "case by case = coffin by coffin" - and many wore them! The negotiations room includes a large screen where speakers faces are beamed to everyone in the room - so the stickers on suit jackets and shirts are clear to everyone in the room.

It is unusual to hear applause in the negotiation room, certainly consistent applause after multiple interventions - but the threat of Terminator has allowed for 'unusual' behavior. Applause followed the interventions first heard from the G77 Group and China. Click here to read the intervention. Argentina and Norway also spoke strongly against "case by case risk assessment' of Terminator, believing it would lead to field trials.

We have barely had any time to talk about Terminator as the issue is so clear: most governments are opposed; Indigenous peoples, NGOs, local communites are opposed; and some governments refuse to do anything but agree with Industry. The Chair has recognized that there is an impasse asked those governments who want to see the language of "case by case risk assessment" stay to speak up and identify themselves. Now they are huddled for an hour to either agree to reject the language or come up with an alternative proposal. New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland (!!!!!) spoke in support of "case by case risk assessment" but only briefly as requested by the Chair. Canada did not raise its hand as part of this group.

Canadian NGOs and the Ban Terminator Campaign met with the Canadian delegation over lunch and are interested to see now what the Canadian government will say - as they refused to disclose thier position. Are they meeting with New Zealand and Australia to come up with more bad language? Is Switzerland now playing an active role in opposing Indigenous rights and the pleas from around the world?

The translators are staying until 9pm tonight - and we may need them!

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