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?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
Life and Style
love + sex
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot