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The Preamble to Agenda 21 began in Rio as a five-paragraph introduction to Agenda 21 with two sets of brackets. The first set was in paragraph 1.3 around the words "political commitment at the highest level." The US, which had originally disputed this phrase, easily relinquished the brackets. Paragraph 1.4 addresses the need for new and additional financial resources to assist developing countries. This paragraph had been bracketed because the issue of finance had not yet been decided at the end of PrepCom IV. As the result of a compromise between the G-77 and the countries undergoing transition to a market economy, a new paragraph was inserted after paragraph 1.4 that stated that special attention be given to the "particular circumstances facing the economies in transition." This compromise also resulted in the deletion of all references to "economies in transition" in the text of Agenda 21.

Paragraph 1.5 was also amended as part of a compromise between the Palestinians and the US (and other countries that opposed reference to "people under occupation" within the text of Agenda 21). After a series of informal consultations, Tommy Koh was able to broker a compromise whereby the mention of "people under occupation" would remain in the Rio Declaration with a sentence to be added to paragraph 1.5 stating that Agenda 21 would be carried out in full respect of all the principles contained in the Rio Declaration; and all mentions of "people under occupation" and "various bodies and organizations under occupation" would be removed from the text of Agenda 21. A final paragraph was added to the Preamble in the waning hours of the Conference. This paragraph was part of a compromise on the issue of "safe and" sound energy systems and technologies (see Chapter 9).

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