Chapter 38 of Agenda 21 requested the UNGA to establish a high-level Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to ensure the effective follow-up of UNCED. The draft resolution on institutional arrangements to follow up the UNCED process was first discussed on Wednesday, 11 November and did not come to a close until 15 December, 20 days after the "final" meeting of the Razali Group. At the Group's meeting on 25 November, Ambassador Razali announced that he would hold additional consultations on the paragraphs that address the location of the Commission's secretariat and the venue of the Commission's meetings. These issues were not resolved in the draft resolution, but rather left pending as delegates were still divided. Razali conducted additional consultations at the Malaysian mission during the second week of December before a fragile consensus was finally reached. Yet on 15 December, when many expected the Second Committee to meet and approve all the UNCED-related resolutions, an emergency meeting of the Razali Group was held to discuss the paragraph on the venue of the Commission's meetings once again.
The following highlights some of the key issues that emerged during the negotiations on the 34-paragraph resolution.
Paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 set out the terms of reference of the CSD. The final version of paragraph 3 differed little from the original draft. Paragraph 3 lists the functions of the Commission, as agreed in paragraphs 38.13, 33.13 and 33.21 of Agenda 21. The functions listed in this paragraph include:
Paragraph 6, which sets the parameters for representation on the CSD, led to a protracted debate. Among the contentious issues that surfaced were: (1) Fairness of representation within the regional groups. New Zealand, supported by AOSIS, stressed that in addition to having membership based on equitable geographical distribution, there should also be rotational fairness and no permanent or even semi-permanent members, so that all countries who wish to serve on the CSD will have the opportunity to do so. Others, including the EC, Japan, China, Egypt and Morocco, believed that this was a matter for the regional groups, not the General Assembly; (2) Should representatives on the CSD be subject to the approval of the Secretary-General? The G-77 did not think this was necessary, but the EC did; and (3) Size of the Commission. Agreement on the size of the Commission was reached relatively quickly, since all delegations, with the exception of the Netherlands, agreed that there should be 53 states represented on the CSD. The Netherlands supported a smaller body of 24 members.
The final text recommends that the Commission consist of representatives of 53 States elected by ECOSOC from among the Member States of the UN and its Specialized Agencies for 3-year terms with due regard to equitable geographical distribution. There was no mention of fairness of representation.
The issue of EC participation in the work of the CSD came up during discussion of paragraph 7, which includes provisions for participation of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The G-77 did not think that the reference to the EC was necessary, as it is covered under the provisions for intergovernmental organizations. The UK, on behalf of the EC, explained that EC member states have devolved to the Community a number of responsibilities that would otherwise fall to sovereign nations, including trade, agricultural policy and fisheries. Thus, unless the Community were allowed to participate in the work of the CSD, the member states would have no voice on these important issues. The G-77 then expressed concern about voting. The UK reiterated firmly that there is no question of voting nor does the EC want a permanent seat, however, the EC must be allowed to participate in order to allow members of the Community a voice on such issues as agriculture, trade and fisheries. Pakistan, China and Japan still had some concerns.
After lengthy negotiation, the final text that addresses the participation of the EC emerged. This section of paragraph 7(a) reads: "provide for the European Economic Community, within its areas of competence, to participate -- as will be appropriately defined in the Commission on Sustainable Development rules of procedure -- fully, without the right to vote;".
The debate on NGO participation was a testimony to the importance of NGOs in the UNCED process and was, by and large, completely supportive of NGO participation in the CSD. Most of the debate related to three issues: (1) rules of procedure to be used for NGO participation; (2) balance between NGOs operating in the fields of environment and development; (3) balance in the participation of NGOs from developed and developing countries; and (4) the need to ensure the intergovernmental nature of the Commission.
The final text on NGO participation is incorporated within paragraph 8, which requests the Secretary-General to submit for the consideration of ECOSOC at its organizational session in 1993 his proposed rules of procedure for the Commission, including those related to the participation of relevant Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) and NGOs, as recommended by UNCED, taking into account the following:
Paragraph 9 deals with the timing and venue of the meetings of the Commission and paragraph 10 requests the Committee on Conferences to consider the need for readjusting the calendar of meetings to take into account the interrelationship between the CSD and other UN bodies. A number of issues emerged in this debate, including: (1) the need to meet after the governing councils of UNDP and UNEP, yet before the meeting of ECOSOC; (2) the need for a flexible meeting schedule of two to three weeks; and (3) the fact that the Commission should meet in either New York or Geneva but not alternate between the two cities. AOSIS and Japan stated their preference to hold all meetings in New York. The Russian Federation, the US, Switzerland and the EC favor Geneva.
The venue question in paragraph 9 proved to be the most difficult to resolve. By 25 November, and after intensive consultations, paragraph 9 read: "Recommends that the Commission on Sustainable Development shall meet once a year for a period of two to three weeks. The first substantive session of the Commission will be held in New York in 1993, without prejudice to the venue of its future sessions;".
When Razali returned from the GEF participants meeting on 8 December, he held a series of consultations at the Malaysian mission in an attempt to resolve this issue. The delegates, however, remained divided. Some preferred CSD meetings in New York, others preferred Geneva and still others proposed rotating between the two cities. After many late night sessions, a fragile, ambiguous compromise was reached: "Recommends that the Commission on Sustainable Development shall meet once a year for a period of two to three weeks. The first substantive session of the Commission will be held in New York in 1993, without prejudice to the venue of its future sessions in Geneva and/or New York;".
Yet, just when it looked as though the negotiations had finally come to a close and the Second Committee was preparing to adopt all of the UNCED-related resolutions, Vanuatu and a number of other delegates called for an emergency meeting of the Razali Group to discuss this paragraph one more time. These delegates wanted to clarify just what they were actually agreeing to in this paragraph and what body would make the final decision on the venue of the Commission's meetings. After nearly two hours of discussion on 15 December, delegates agreed to leave the paragraph as is, but to instruct Ambassador Razali to conduct additional consultations during the coming months and call for a resumed session of the 47th General Assembly to adopt the results. As the 47th General Assembly can be resumed at any time between January and the third Tuesday in September 1993, when the 48th General Assembly begins, it could be some time before consensus is reached. The delegates made it very clear, however, that the General Assembly must make the final decision -- not ECOSOC or the CSD, which are both limited-member bodies -- as this is mandated in paragraph 38.12 of Agenda 21.
The paragraphs that address the organization of work of the CSD are the heart of the resolution. The negotiations on paragraph 14 were the longest and most contentious. The EC, supported by a number of developed countries, insisted that sessions of the CSD be organized in the form of segments, as proposed in the Secretary-General's report. The segments, as defined by the Secretary-General, include: one on issues relating to finance and transfer of technology; one on the implementation of Agenda 21 by international organizations; and a third on the implementation of Agenda 21 at the national and regional levels. Many of the G-77 members and China rejected the concept of segments and argued that all issues related to Agenda 21 implemenation at international, regional and national levels should be discussed simultaneously. This was based in part on the concern that a separate segment on national implementation would monitor national compliance with Agenda 21. Private consultations and informal meetings went on for over a week before there was agreement on paragraph 14. The issue was not totally resolved, however, as the decision of the organization of work must still be taken up by the Commission itself.
Paragraph 12 reads that the CSD should adopt a multi-year thematic programme of work that will provide a framework to assess progress achieved in the implementation of Agenda 21 and ensure an integrated approach to all of its environment and development components as well as linkages between sectoral and cross-sectoral issues. Paragraph 13 requests the Secretary-General to submit his proposals for such a programme of work during the organizational session of the CSD. Paragraph 14 recommends further that the Commission consider organizing its work on the following lines: (a) financial resources, mechanisms, transfer of technology, capacity building and other cross-sectoral issues; (b) review of implementation of Agenda 21 at the international level, as well as at the regional and national levels, including the means of implementation, in accordance with paragraph 12 above and the functions of the Commission, taking into account, where appropriate, information regarding the progress in the implementation of relevant environmental conventions; and (c) a High-Level Meeting, with Ministerial participation, to have an integrated overview of the implementation of Agenda 21, to consider emerging policy issues and to provide necessary political impetus to the implementation of decisions of UNCED and commitments contained therein.
There are four sections of the resolution that address the relationship with other UN bodies: ECOSOC and the General Assembly; coordination within the UN system; UNEP, UNDP, UNCTAD and UNSO; and regional commissions. In the first section, there were some problems with the paragraph that asks the Secretary-General to take account of the organizational modalities of the CSD in the restructuring and revitalization of the UN in the economic, social and related fields. The G-77 proposed deleting this paragraph as it trespasses on the General Assembly in the area of UN restructuring. The EC, the Russian Federation, the US and Austria argued for the retention of the part that addresses the need to optimize the work of the CSD and other inter-governmental UN bodies dealing with matters related to environment and development. The final text emphasizes that the ongoing restructuring of the UN in the economic, social and related fields should take into account the organizational modalities for the CSD with a view to optimizing the work of the Commission and other intergovernmental UN bodies dealing with matters relating to environment and development.
The section, "Coordination within the UN system", originally contained eight paragraphs, but was easily streamlined down to four. Paragraphs 21-24: (1) request all UN specialized agencies and related organizations to strengthen and adjust their activities and programmes in line with Agenda 21; (2) invite all relevant governing bodies to ensure that the tasks assigned to them are carried out effectively; (3) invite the World Bank and other international, regional and sub-regional financial and development institutions, including the GEF, to submit regularly to the CSD reports on their experience, activities and plans to implement Agenda 21; and (4) request the Secretary-General to submit to the CSD at its substantive session in 1993, recommendations and proposals for improving coordination of programmes within the UN system.
The section "UNEP, UNDP, UNCTAD and UNSO", originally contained four paragraphs. The G-77 said that all four of these paragraphs should be deleted, since they pick up only certain parts of Agenda 21 and they should allow Chapter 38 of Agenda 21 to "stand on its own feet". The EC supported the deletion of two paragraphs, but argued for the retention of the other two. After some redrafting, the final two paragraphs (25 and 26): (1) request the Governing Councils of UNEP and UNDP and the Trade and Development Board to examine the relevant provisions of Chapter 38 of Agenda 21 at their next sessions and submit reports on their specific plans to implement Agenda 21; and (2) take note of the work of the UN Centre on Urgent Environmental Assistance established by UNEP on an experimental basis and invites the Governing Council to report to the GA at its 48th session on the experience gained within the Centre.
The two paragraphs under the heading "Regional Commissions" were comparatively non-controversial. Paragraph 27 requests UN regional commissions to examine relevant provisions of Chapter 38 at their next session and submit reports on their specific plans to implement Agenda 21. Paragraph 28 further requests ECOSOC to decide on the arrangements required so that the reports of the regional commissions be made available to the CSD by 1994.
There was not much debate on the paragraphs on the High-Level Advisory Board. Both the G-77 and the EC were satisfied with the paragraphs as originally drafted. China pointed out that the draft stated that the main task of the Board is to review implementation of Agenda 21. However, this is not the task of this Board, but of the Commission itself. Canada stated that Agenda 21 did not envisage a permanent Board and proposed a rotating roster of experts under which certain experts can be chosen based on the issue under discussion. Not only would this give flexibility to the Advisory Board, it would also be more cost-effective than having a permanent standing Board.
The final paragraphs 29-31 state that: (1) the High-Level Advisory Board should consist of eminent persons broadly representative of all regions of the world, with recognized expertise on the broad spectrum of issues to be dealt with by the CSD, drawn from relevant scientific disciplines, industry, finance and other non-governmental constituencies, as well as various disciplines related to environment and development, and that due account be given to gender balance; (2) the main task of this Board is to give broad consideration to issues related to implementation of Agenda 21 and provide expert advice in that regard to the Secretary-General and through him/her to the Commission, ECOSOC and the General Assembly; and (3) the Secretary-General should submit appropriate proposals to the organizational session of ECOSOC in 1993, including the possibility of organizing expert rosters.
The most frequently raised issue in the discussion on the section on "Secretariat Support Arrangements" was the need for gender balance in the CSD Secretariat. Thailand, Antigua and Barbuda, Finland, Benin, the US, Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and New Zealand all proposed or endorsed amendments relating to gender balance. All of these amendments were originally prepared by the Women's Caucus, an ad hoc caucus of representatives of women's organizations from all continents.
The G-77 pointed out that the CSD Secretariat should be a "separate identifiable entity" and have "effective interaction with the Department on Economic and Social Development". The US, supported by Australia, Japan and Sweden, disagreed saying that it is not appropriate to inform the Secretary-General on how he should organize his Secretariat.
On the sub-paragraph addressing the location of the Scretariat, the G-77 proposed that there should also be an office of the Secretariat in Nairobi, as well as in Geneva and New York. The US and the Russian Federation supported locating the Secretariat in Geneva. The US, supported by Japan, proposed deleting reference to a liaison office in Nairobi. Although the UK agreed with the US on this, as it could be an expensive undertaking, he suggested amending the reference to include a liaison office in Nairobi, in accordance with the UNCED arrangements.
The G-77 proposed that the Secretariat be headed by a high level official at the level of Under Secretary-General under the authority of the Secretary-General and with direct access to him. The US and the UK requested deleting reference to the level of the director.
Many of these arguments became moot points, however, after UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali made his announcement on 4 December about the restructuring of the UN in the economic and social sectors (see page 8). As a result, Razali held additional consultations to rewrite this paragraph to take into account the implications of the Secretary-General's announcement on the CSD Secretariat.
The final text for paragraph 32 reads as follows:
"Takes note of the decision of the Secretary-General to establish at the Under Secretary-General level a new Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and in this context calls upon the Secretary-General to establish a clearly identifiable, highly qualified and competent Secretariat support structure to provide support for the Commission on Sustainable Development, the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development and the High-Level Advisory Board, taking into account gender balance at all levels, the paramount importance of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and the importance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible in accordance with Articles 8 and 101 of the Charter of the United Nations and the following criteria:
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