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WORKING GROUP II

Chair Amb. de Silva (Sri Lanka) stated that the mandate of the Group is to consider, approve and report on the Draft Statement of Principles and Global Plan of Action (A/CONF.165/PC.2/3). Dr. N'Dow explained that this Plan of Action is important not only for Habitat II, but as a way to transform the promises of other major initiatives (Rio, Cairo and Copenhagen) to the local level. The four basic philosophies used in developing the document were: 1) civic engagement; 2) sustainability; 3) equity; 4) enablement. The Secretariat is looking for consensus on the framework for this document and views on this draft.

France, on behalf of the European Union (EU), said Conference documents must be more action-oriented to support government actions. The provisions should specifically define sustainable urban development. He circulated an EU memorandum stating that the current draft does not sufficiently focus on the Conference themes, lacks a substantive base and should be revised according to an EU outline. Turkey said a statement on urban ethics should be added to the document. She proposed adding a principle of 'liveable settlements,' based on performance criteria. She also recommended adding a definition of settlement rights. Italy said the plan of action should include more emphasis on security of land tenure.

Pakistan, supported by Egypt and Sudan, said the document does not reflect the overriding responsibility of the international community. The problem has been left to national governments, local authorities and the private sector, but they will not have the fiscal, technical or financial resources to meet the commitments. Egypt said the document should emphasize the notion of finance and include innovative financial options. Denmark suggested that an important part of the solution is in the rented housing sector. The World Bank said that the use of existing domestic resources is important.

Kenya said the Plan needed more emphasis on land use practices, building materials and the construction industry. Tanzania said declarations from regional meetings should be incorporated and that more 'good practices' should be in the document.

An NGO, Women and Shelter, said the role of women in urban settlements has been overlooked and the document contains no details on the negative effects of structural adjustment programs (SAPs). UNICEF emphasized poverty eradication and said that references in the document to women should include both children and youth. The concept of enablement is overstretched, giving a low role to governments. Sudan said that five areas need more emphasis in the document: rural settlements; international support; city ethics; consumption; and reconstruction of war-torn areas.

Habitat International Coalition said the present document is unsuitable and needs to be restructured fundamentally. The new principles and commitments are insufficient, the basic principles are more romantic than precise, and the right to housing is mentioned only in passing.

The Chair said discussions would continue in an open-ended, informal working group led by Dr. G.A.C. Khonje (Zambia) with a view to preparing a more detailed and comprehensive document for Friday's formal session.

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