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WORKING GROUP I

The Group met in informal session to discuss the Organization of Work, Including Establishment of Committees and Procedural Matters (A/CONF.165/PC.2/CRP.2/Rev.1) and the Rules of Procedure (A/CONF.165/PC.2/CRP.3/Rev.1). PrepCom Chair Martti Lujanen introduced the two documents. He said the group should define what partnership means for this Conference. He noted that the two documents cover the official activities of the Conference, while unofficial events such as roundtables and the NGO forum are described in A/CONF.165/PC.2/CRP.4.

The Work Programme and Rules of Procedure use standard UN language except for the paragraphs on participation of local authorities. Section VI of the Work Programme notes the instructions from the General Assembly that Habitat II should ensure broad-based participation and quotes Rule 61 of the Rules of Procedure: "Representatives designated by international associations of local authorities invited to the Conference may participate, without the right to vote, in the deliberations of the Conference, its main Committees and all working groups, on questions within the scope of their activities." Rule 62 of the Rules of Procedure permits NGOs to participate as observers at public meetings of the Conference and the Main Committees, making statements when invited by the Chair. In the event of excess speakers, NGOs shall be requested to choose spokespersons for coalitions.

The Work Programme also reaffirms the partnership emphasis of GA resolution 49/109. It schedules pre-Conference consultations for 1-2 June 1996 to deal with procedural matters prior to the main Conference. It organizes work into a Plenary and two Working Groups. Plenary will have two segments: a regular session and a high-level meeting in which Heads of State are invited to present specific commitments. Committee I will deal with the Global Plan of Action, and Committee II will hold hearings for partners, similar in form to the World Hearings on Development in 1994.

India, supported by Mexico, said Rule 61 now ignores the role national committees should play in selecting local authorities' representatives, assigning the role exclusively to international bodies. He suggested the national committees and international associations together should designate the local authorities represented. Brazil supported India, noting that its national committee includes members from national associations of local authorities and that Brazil is planning to bring local authorities as delegates to Istanbul. Regarding NGOs, he said the PrepCom should seek ways of ensuring regional and political balance.

China sought clarification on who will determine the local authority participants and whether they will be delegates or observers. Separate local authority representation might not be necessary because China hopes to have local authorities as part of its delegation. Supported by Kenya, he also asked what arrangements would be made for the participation of other sectors. A representative of local authorities said international associations do not seek to monopolize local authorities' representation but to assist in facilitating their input.

Uganda, on behalf of African member States, recognized its delegations' financial constraints and hoped the General Assembly would seek additional assistance so they can attend the Conference. Supported by Mexico, he said that speakers at the high-level segment could be the head of government or a representative.

The UK said the Secretariat needs to consider whether the rule for local authorities encourages participation. It could discourage their working within national delegations and national committees. Instead of offering a separate track, he recommended a partnership approach so that local authorities' parochial concerns are incorporated into the global concerns of the Conference. Canada expressed concern about selection of local authorities by international groups and giving local authorities privileges not granted to NGOs. The US did not see a problem with local authorities being represented both on national delegations and through separate representation selected by international organizations, which would give them an organized voice. NGOs should also be permitted as observers in working groups. Egypt said local authorities, all other NGOs, the private sector, women and others should be dealt with on the same level of equality as one network working to achieve the same objective. This will be done by national committees.

Habitat II Secretary-General Wally N'Dow agreed that national committees should include local authorities. He said the rule attempts to ensure participation of local authorities but does not give exclusivity to international groups. It is important to emphasize the role of local authorities as captains of the "City Summit," distinct from ordinary partners such as NGOs and the private sector. PrepCom Chair Martti Lujanen said details of the delegations and process need to be determined for local authorities. The Secretariat said representatives of local authorities that are not part of national delegations would be observers.

Israel asked about possible monitoring and timetables for action following Istanbul. The Secretariat said follow-up measures will receive closer examination when the GPA is farther along. Senegal re-emphasized that local authorities would assist, not replace, States in policymaking. Indonesia and Bangladesh supported the participation of local authorities but only as part of national delegations. Brazil asked whether the PrepCom can introduce new modalities for UN conferences without authority from the General Assembly. The PrepCom Chair responded that all decisions are proposals to the GA and are subject to its endorsement.

The drafting group then met to discuss the Organization of Work and the Rules of Procedure. One delegation requested guidelines for NGO accreditation that would require region, gender, mandates and political views, but many delegations stated that clear rules already exist. Another delegation said a paragraph stating that member States have the sole responsibility in decision-making should include the negotiation process as well, but several delegates objected that this negates NGO participation. Other areas of disagreement include establishment of a formal drafting group and the content of the high-level Plenary segment.

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