UNCED Pre-Conference Consultations started yesterday morning in Conference Room 4 of RioCentro. This was the first of two sessions where delegates are making important decisions regarding UNCED's structure and its procedural mechanisms. The recommendations that will emerge from these consultations today will be forwarded to the Plenary for adoption on 3 June.
UNCED Secretary-General Maurice Strong opened the morning session and quickly moved to the first substantive item on the agenda, which was the election of the presiding officer of the Pre-Conference Consultations. The delegates easily elected Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Lafer to the post, who, according to many delegates, was the pleasant surprise of the morning. Lafer, a former jurist and university professor from the University of S"o Paulo, proved linguistically adept and good humored during the morning's meeting. With an extensive background in international relations, Lafer is also familiar with UN General Assembly's Second Committee and its politics, having served as Chair of the United Nations Commission for Science and Technical Development (an open-ended commission that is now an expert body that reports to ECOSOC).
The next item on the agenda consisted of a list of a number of recommendations to the Conference on the following procedural matters: adoption of the rules of procedure; election of officers; adoption of the agenda; organization of work, including establishment of the Main Committee of the Conference; signature of Conventions; concluding events; credentials of representatives of the Conference and appointment of the members of the Credentials Committee; and the report of the Conference. Due to a lack of substantive logistical information and a long procedural debate on the Summit portion of the Conference, the delegates were unable to complete discussion on most of the items on the agenda.
The next item, adoption of the rules of procedure, was dealt with quickly, with the rules of procedure for UNCED having been adopted pursuant to decisions taken at PrepComs III and IV. The document, "Provisional Rules of Procedure," (A/CONF.151/2), sets out the provisional rules of procedure that will be adopted as the third agenda item on Wednesday. These rules were developed at PrepCom III and forwarded to the Conference, after being endorsed by the 46th session of the United Nations General Assembly in December 1991. PrepCom IV adopted three draft decisions, entitled "Observer status in the work of the Preparatory Committee for the UNCED and of the UNCED for associate members of regional commissions", "Status of the European Economic Community at UNCED" and "Draft provisional rules of procedure of the Conference". These decisions were adopted by the UN General Assembly in April and the provisional rules as amended are reflected in A/CONF.151/2.
The next item on Monday's agenda dealt with recommendations for the election of officers, including the President of the Conference, 39 Vice-Presidents, an ex officio Vice-President from the host country, a Rapporteur-General and a Chairman for the Main Committee. As expected, Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello was nominated as the President of the Conference and will preside over the Plenary. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Lafer was nominated as the ex officio Vice-President and will preside over the Plenary in the absence of President Collor.
Nominations were then tabled for the 39 Vice-Presidents. The Latin American group nominated Argentina, Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil and Jamaica. The Western Europe and Others Group (WEOG) nominated Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. The Eastern European Group nominated Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russian Federation, and the Ukraine. Both the Asian and African groups, however, had greater difficulty in reaching agreement on their nominees. The Asian group tabled 12 nominations for their eight seats. The nominees were China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Republic of Korea, Maldives, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Vanuatu. The Asian group met later in the day to reach final agreement on its eight nominees. The African group initially tabled 11 nominations for their nine seats. After the Chair of the African group announced the list of nominees, one of the African countries expressed his displeasure that his country had not been nominated and insisted that it be added to the list. Thus, the 12 African nominees now include Tanzania, Kenya, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Gabon, Zaire and Mauritania. The African group met later in the day to reach final agreement on its nine nominees.
Most of the morning's session was devoted to a discussion on the organization of work for the Conference. The provisional schedule for the Conference is as follows:
Discussion on a number of agenda items, including the signature of conventions and the concluding ceremonies, was postponed since there was a lack of logistical information. Due to time constraints and the fact that regional groups had to meet to resolve outstanding issues, the remaining items on the agenda are to be discussed this morning.
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