After months of speculation about the modalities for their participation in UNGASS, NGOs learned Friday that the General Assembly had acted on Resolution 51/181 of December 1996, inviting President Razali to formulate proposals. The GA decided that representatives of major groups identified in Agenda 21 will be invited to participate in the UNGASS Plenary, and those who cannot be accommodated may be invited to address the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole. The resolution also stipulates that the decision on major group participation will in no way set a precedent for other special sessions of the General Assembly.
At an NGO briefing Thursday, Ambassador Richardson (US) reportedly signaled US support for the new GA resolution, and even suggested that, without civil society participation and broad public support, the UN could ultimately share the fate of the League of Nations. He also announced the appointment of a full-time NGO liaison officer at the US mission. Observers note that such a position has not existed since the Kennedy administration. Richardson also is reportedly establishing a liaison committee of NGO representatives.