What price designer-label doomsday?: Conference Diary

HANAE MORI, no less, has designed the official headscarf for the UN population conference. You might think that doomsday discussions - over which the Titans of Islam and Catholicism have been raging - are worthy of a more sober approach. The US Vice-President, Al Gore, called it 'one of the most important conferences ever held'.

But at a UN stand in the exhibition hall dedicated to non-governmental organisations (the NGOs are the humanitarian groups which often work under the UN's umbrella) two chic women will 'receive contributions' in return for the Japanese couturier's exclusive design, four different coloured human figures and butterflies on a magenta, blue and white silk scarf. There's a T- shirt to go with it.

'We do not like to use the word 'sell' - we don't 'sell' things here,' a young Japanese woman said reproachfully.

'We believe in giving and receiving. People make voluntary contributions for the scarf. Mori designed it free and what we receive doesn't cover the cost.' What 'voluntary contributions' are delegates expected to make? 'dollars 30 ( pounds 19) for the scarf,' she snapped.' dollars 15 for the T- shirt.'

NOT that Mori's scarves are the only things on sale while the Americans and Europeans agonise over the wording of the conference's final report. One entire floor of the NGO's conference hall has been turned into a giant arts and crafts centre, a souk more sharply priced than Cairo's famous Khan al- Khalili bazaar.

But in this bazaar, silk carpets can be purchased from the Project of Productive Families - manufactured in peasants' homes in the Egyptian province of Minufiya - along with snake and lizard-skin handbags. Perhaps there should be a UN Conference for the Protection of Reptiles.

Keep walking around the conference centre and you'll find Pizza Hut, ice cream parlours, Coke stands and Federal Express, AT & T phone booths and tourist shops offering cheap trips to the Pyramids. The Brazil Association for Mother's and Children's Protection will sell you a patterned towel for pounds 5, the Women's Research Institute a Chinese silk place-mat for pounds 6.

You can buy a Bangladesh women's nightie for pounds 7 from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a carpet for pounds 8 from the rug recycling centre of the Association for the Protection of the Environment.

Or you can just browse through the population conference bookstall of the American University of Cairo Press which proudly displays the novels of Egyptian Nobel prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz and General Al-Gamassy's 1973 memoir 'The October War', an event which certainly reduced the population, albeit in a rather more violent way than the conference envisages.

All in all, a trade fair to beat them all.

BUT back to the nitty-gritty of the 15,000 delegates, one of whose heaviest burdens is the last, contentious section of paragraph 7.1 of draft report Chapter VII.

Readers anxious to understand their difficulties, not to mention the weird semantics of the United Nations - and the chaos that ensues amid Islamic scholars once the UN's words are translated - should set themselves the following examination.

Question 1: Explain and discuss the following draft UN definition of sexual health: '. . . sexual health is the integration of somatic (sic), emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being, in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love, and thus the notion of sexual health implies a positive approach to human sexuality, and the purpose of sexual health care should be the enhancement of life and personal relations, and not merely counselling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases.'

Question 2: Translate the above into Arabic.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Representative - South West England

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest manufacturer of UPV...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Supervisor

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well establis...

Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer / Helpdesk Engineer

£16500 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued growth an exce...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A full-service agency based in ...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy