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FINAL MEETING OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL SESSION

After lunch, the members of the Commission sat down for their last session. Razali had worked over the lunch break with representatives of the G-77 and the Secretariat and came back with a final draft of the three decisions. In Decision I on the provisional agenda, sub-paragraphs 3(a) and (b), on the methods of work of the Commission, were removed and placed into Decision II. Paragraph 4(a) on guidelines for national reports, was replaced with language from Resolution 47/191, thus ensuring that reference to national report guidelines was retained, yet the language was acceptable to all. The reference to the GEF in paragraph 7 was resolved by adding a sentence that reads, "This includes reference to paragraph 33.14 of Agenda 21."

During the discussion that followed, the only other amendment was proposed by Benin who reminded the Chair of his earlier suggestion that 4(b) be amended to include "periodic communications" so that the paragraph would read "ways in which, upon request, the United Nations system and bilateral donors are assisting countries, particularly developing countries, in the preparation of periodic communications or national reports and national Agenda 21 action plans." There was no objection and the Commission quickly adopted the decision.

The reformulated Decision II, "Issues relating to the future work of the Commission" contained four paragraphs: setting up working groups; consideration of reports from other UN bodies and the international financial institutions; considering reports and contributions from entities outside the UN system; and asking the Chair to conduct informal consultations. The EC had a problem with paragraph 2 since it implied that the Commission would consider reports from all UN organs at each session. The G-77 responded that their understanding was that in the year the Commission considers atmosphere, it would hear only from UN organs that deal with atmospheric issues. The EC wanted further clarification, so the paragraph was amended to specify that the Commission would decide "which" reports should be considered.

Canada proposed amending paragraph 3 to include specific mention of major groups and NGOs. Razali responded that the Secretariat wanted to avoid the implications of "major groups" and asked Canada if he could accept adding the phrase "such as from NGOs" at the end of the paragraph. Colombia supported Razali and suggested using the phrase "including NGOs." After a few more comments, Razali asked delegates if they could agree to this and quickly adopted the decision.

At this point Razali opened the floor for concluding comments. A number of countries requested that the Secretariat ensure that documentation is prepared, translated and distributed by 1 May 1993. Razali ended the meeting by thanking everyone for being so cooperative and making the first meeting of the CSD such a productive affair. He apologized for any callous remarks he may have made but explained that he came from the "rough and tumble school of diplomacy" and that "for the next year I'm all you've got." Thus, the organizational session of the Commission on Sustainable Development came to a close.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CSD

While several sources claim parentage and argue over the exact moment of conception, the gestation and birth of the Commission on Sustainable Development took place, in large part, within the negotiating chambers of UN Headquarters in New York and (temporarily) in Rio. However the CSD may develop over the next several years, the diplomats who negotiated its creation have demonstrated both an uncommon sense of pride in their work and a strong commitment to ensuring that their creation is a success. [Return to start of article]