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SUMMARY OF PREPCOM III FOR THE SECOND UN CONFERENCE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS (HABITAT II): 5-16 FEBRUARY 1996

The third session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom III) for the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) met at UN Headquarters in New York from 5-16 February 1996, to continue preparations for Habitat II, which will take place from 3-14 June 1996, in Istanbul, Turkey. Among the outstanding organizational issues addressed were NGO and local authority accreditation and financial resources. Negotiations on the draft Statement of Principles and Commitments and the Global Plan of Action (GPA) commenced at PrepCom III.

The session was limited by both financial and time constraints. Lack of translation services precluded the possibility of informal night and weekend sessions. Delegates also spent a considerable amount of time debating issues unique to Habitat II's process, such as NGO participation in informal sessions. Substantive debates related to Habitat II included whether to identify a "right to housing" and the role of UNCHS in follow-up. Additional debates focused on issues discussed at previous UN conferences, such as "sustainable development," "equal" and "equity," and "gender." The volume and disparity of new proposals also resulted in lengthy discussions over the need for and availability of drafting groups. During the final days of negotiation, three Subgroups of Working Group II (the negotiating body for the text) and several informal negotiating bodies operated simultaneously. One section of the text, regarding capacity building, still has not been addressed in a first reading. The closing Plenary ran out of translation time before it could approve reports on all sections of the negotiated text. The combined effect of these factors resulted in the output of PrepCom III: a slightly improved but heavily bracketed text for Istanbul.