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STATE OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

The Working Group considered the issue of the state of human settlements based on documents: A/CONF.165/PC.2/3; A/CONF.165/PC.2/4; A/CONF.165/PC.2/5; A/CONF.165/PC.2/6; A/CONF.165/PC.2/7; A/CONF.165/PC.2/8; A/CONF.165/PC.2/9; A/CONF.165/PC.2/10; and A/CONF.165/PC.2/11, following a summary of the documents by the Secretariat.

India said the documents did not sufficiently reflect developing countries' priorities on international technical and financial assistance. He also pointed out problems related to inflexible regulations, the relations between public and private sector finance, equal opportunity for borrowing, and the abolition of rent control.

India placed a reservation on A/CONF.165/PC.2/11's treatment of the human right to housing pending the decision of the Commission on Human Settlements (CHS). The Netherlands agreed that the Group should defer discussion on housing rights until the CHS completed deliberations.

Finland said the review of Agenda 21 implementation in A/CONF.165/PC.2/8 shows that development of viable indicators can ensure an efficient monitoring system. She called for consideration of relevant documents and goals from Cairo and Copenhagen. Kenya said the reports do not address the needs of vulnerable groups. The rural-urban imbalance was not shown, and statistics were needed on regional levels of urbanization. Spain said a statement in A/CONF.165/PC.2/8 that "the business of development is an eminently private affair" should be revised to state that the government can help mobilize private sector resources.

The Chair said an informal, open-ended drafting group chaired by India would be formed to revise the documents. The output of the drafting group was presented by India and contained in document A/CONF.165/PC.2/2/Add.3. The document has two main sections each with sub-sections: preparatory activities at the national, regional and international levels, highlighting each of their objectives and activities; and the nature of Habitat II, which addresses the State of human settlements, accreditation and participation of local authorities, date and agenda of the third session of the Committee and two different sub-sections on the financing of the Conference.

I. Preparatory Activities — A. National objectives, activities and reporting: China, Sweden and Finland questioned the five-year national plan of action. China said the national plans of action should follow the Global Plan of Action (GPA), which will not be complete until Habitat II. Sweden and Finland said their national action plans are not on five-year scales. The Secretariat said the language is based on recommendations from the first PrepCom and that the national reports and GPA are to be developed in parallel. The Chair suggested that the decision could refer to "national plans and five-year plans." The Netherlands, supported by Sweden and Denmark, added that countries can formulate a plan and also give an overview of existing plans of action. It was agreed that the deadline for national reports would be 1 September 1995.

B. Regional objectives and activities: Colombia said that a statement emphasizing similarities in regional cultures and economies should instead note their difference or diversity. France suggested "cultural, economic and social convergence." Gabon suggested "convergence and diversity."

C. International objectives and activities: Romania suggested substituting "housing" for "shelter" in a paragraph describing best practices. Swaziland said subregional organizations should be included in technical cooperation. A paragraph on the GPA was deferred, pending further discussions in the PrepCom.

II. The Nature of Habitat II — A. Financing of Habitat II and its preparatory activities: China added to a paragraph requesting funding from governments, "especially those of the developed countries and others in a position to do so, and to international and regional financial institutions."

The draft decision on the State of Human Settlements Report, major reviews and other substantive documentation was adopted. Draft decisions on accreditation and participation of local authorities, organizational arrangements for the conference, and activities parallel to the main activities of the Conference were deferred until other discussions on these matters are complete.

B. Date and agenda of the third session of the Preparatory Committee: Delegates noted that the dates in the decision are blank. The Secretariat said the dates depend on the availability of facilities in New York and on other arrangements. He said the third session is likely to take place between the second half of February and first half of March. Sweden said the decision could not yet accurately reflect the incomplete GPA work in Working Group II. Adoption of the subparagraph was deferred.

Japan said discussions had not been held on accreditation, so that portion of the decision should be deferred. Finland suggested adding a review of best practices to the status of preparations. The portion on the status of preparations and the remainder of the decision were adopted.

The Chair introduced a draft resolution from the Bureau stating that the PrepCom authorizes its Bureau to hold, as necessary, meetings between the sessions of the Committee to guide, inter alia, the Secretariat's work. Canada, China, Colombia and the UK said they would prefer to hear details on possible meetings. Until the details are provided, the resolution should be deferred. Japan said it had doubts about intersessional meetings because of the budgetary implications.

The revised version of this discussion was presented to the Working Group as document A/CONF.165/PC.2/L.5. The document contains four sections: preparatory activities at the national, regional and international levels, summarizing the objectives and activities; financing of the Habitat II Conference; the State of Human Settlements; and the dates and agenda of the third session of the Preparatory Committee.

There were only two contentious issues during the last meeting of the Working Group: the request to the General Assembly to "allocate sufficient funds" to cover various costs of the Secretariat for the period October 1995 to July 1996; and the proposal that the third session should be held from "12 to 23 February 1996...." The US suggested compromise language, in line with paragraph 20 of resolution 47/180, to request the GA to "allocate within existing UN budgetary resources sufficient funds..." while India, supported by Uganda, preferred "allocate, within available UN budgetary resources..." because the resources are likely to increase by October. The US was adamant and their proposal was accepted.

The US, supported by Italy, sought an explanation on the need for a two-week third session. Norway reminded delegates of the need to observe paragraph 3 of GA resolution 49/109, which had also recommended slashing PrepCom II to two weeks from the planned three weeks, and noted that a two week proposal may not survive in the GA and that the credibility of the Committee was at stake. Canada advanced the argument by stating that by PrepCom I, a third session was not envisioned, but was agreed to only if it was to be "relatively short." Sweden also noted that two pre-conference consultation days are planned in Istanbul.

Uganda, supported by Swaziland, noted that negotiation on the document has not yet started and the current session had demonstrated that there will be some areas of difficulty. India concurred, noting that it had been a hard struggle to produce even part of the first draft of the GPA and sufficient time will be needed to arrive at consensus. The Secretariat explained that there is consensus that the third PrepCom is going to be the toughest and therefore a two week session is justified. The US conceded but Canada and Norway did not and the matter was deferred to Plenary.

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