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Istanbul+5 UNGASS: 6 June
UN Headquarters, New York, 6-8 June 2001

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Update for Wednesday, 6 June:

The 25th Special Session of the General Assembly opened on Wednesday, 6 June 2001, in the General Assembly Hall. Delegates met in Plenary and also convened the Committee of the Whole (COW) for general debate on the review and appraisal of progress made in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and further actions and initiatives for overcoming obstacles in the way of the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.  Informal negotiations continued on five outstanding paragraphs in the draft declaration. Coverage was suspended at 9:00 pm as delegates began negotiating two new paragraphs on foreign occupation and refugees. In the Thematic Committee, delegates heard presentations from South Africa, Egypt, Colombia, Senegal and India.

At 9:00 am, the Chair of the Delegation of Finland, Kimmo Sasi (pictured below, center), opened the 25th Special Session of the General Assembly. A moment of silence was observed in memory of the King and Queen of Nepal.
Harri Holkeri of Finland (on the left) was elected President of the Special Session, and in general remarks he emphasized that the Special Session is innovative because the Thematic Committee allows delegations to share experiences and learn from one another.  
   
  Holkeri's opening address
   

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's opening address

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that partnerships with local authorities, nongovernmental organizations and women’s groups are particularly important for the eradication of poverty in urban areas.  
   
PrepCom Chair Germán García-Durán (Colombia) presented the report of the Commission on Human Settlements (CHS) acting as the preparatory committee for the special session of the General Assembly for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) (A/S-25/2). 
   
Gennady Novitsky, Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus delivering the first address by a national delegation to the Istanbul+5 UNGASS
   
Bird's-eye view of the General Assembly, from the upper balcony.

Thematic Committee:

The Chair of the Thematic Committee, Habeddine Belaid (Tunisia) highlighted the Committee’s sub-themes of housing, social development, balanced structures for human settlements, environmental management, economic development, governance, financing for urban development and strategies for development of cities. 
SOUTH AFRICA: Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele (far right), Minister of Housing for South Africa, presented a video showing how a rights-based approach to housing is being addressed in both urban and rural areas nationwide. Strategies include legislation preventing unfair evictions, upholding the right to adequate housing and addressing the needs of women and the disabled.
EGYPT: Mohamed Ibrahim Soliman, Egyptian Minister of Housing Utilities and Urban Communities, presented three urban rehabilitation and relocation projects, and attributed their success to the emphasis placed on cultural factors and stakeholder participation at all stages.

Excerpts from Soliman's presentation
 SENEGAL: Seydon Sy Sall (near right), Minister of Town Planning and National and Regional Development of Senegal, described a pilot project to secure land tenure, improve basic services and develop local economic bases in several squatter towns.

Excerpt from Sall's presentation
INDIA: Sheela Patel of SPARC, a Bombay partnership of local actors, discussed a program successfully initiated in three cities whereby municipalities pay for sustainable sanitation facilities created and managed by communities. 
© 2001, Earth Negotiations Bulletin. All rights reserved.

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