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BRIEFING ON THE SPECIAL SESSION

At 12:00 pm on Friday, 7 March, Co-Chair Osborn welcomed Amb. Razali Ismail, President of the General Assembly, and summarized the work of the Intersessional Working Group. He added that States were far from satisfied with what had been achieved since UNCED given increasing levels of poverty and environmental problems and the need to mobilize new financial resources and international cooperation. He added that there remained a need to strengthen the contribution and participation of all sectors of society.

Amb. Razali congratulated delegates and said the Co-Chairs’ revised text would add breadth and depth to the negotiations at CSD-5. With regard to the organization of work for UNGASS, Amb. Razali said the provisional agenda would be based on past agendas of special sessions and would include: the opening of the session by the Chair of the delegation of Malaysia; the appointment of a Credentials Committee; the election of the President; presentation of a report from the CSD; organization of the session; the adoption of the agenda; presentation of the substantive item, being the overall review and appraisal of the implementation of Agenda 21; and the adoption of the final document or documents. He proposed that the Special Session establish an Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole to consider all proposals submitted to UNGASS and to prepare the final document(s) for consideration by the UNGA. It would also hear some statements not presented at Plenary.

The UNGASS Plenary will begin general debate at its first meeting, on Monday, 23 June, following the election of officers and adoption of the organization of work. The debate will continue until Friday morning or afternoon. The list of speakers will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. A note verbale on procedures is to be distributed, informing participants that the list of speakers will open one week from the date the note is sent out. The list of speakers will close on Monday, 23 June, at the earliest. Delegations will have to inscribe in person.

More than 240 speakers may be involved in the debate, representing Member States, States Members of specialized agencies which are not members of the UN, intergovernmental and other organizations and entities with observer status, UN programmes, UN agencies and major groups including NGOs. Each speaker is expected to be limited to seven minutes.

Amb. Razali said the participation of major groups would necessitate arrangements to alter the formal nature of the proceedings. He recalled that paragraph 3 of General Assembly resolution 51/181 (16 December 1996) requires him to consult with Member States in order to propose appropriate modalities for the effective involvement of major groups, including NGOs, at UNGASS. He added that, given the importance of past contributions made by the NGOs on the issue of environment and development, he hoped that States could expeditiously agree on modalities during consultations that he intended to initiate soon. They should ensure that such participation, as in the case of past major conferences, would benefit and add value to the outcome of UNGASS.

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