Press Releases

    ENV/DEV/622
    11 February 2002

    PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CONCLUDES SECOND SESSION; ADOPTS "CHAIRMAN’S PAPER" AS NEGOTIATING DOCUMENT

    By Recorded Vote of 93-44-16, Approves China’s No Action
    Motion on Accreditation Request by International Campaign for Tibet

    NEW YORK, 8 February (UN Headquarters) -- Too much attention had been given to words and it was now time to get to the "meat" of the matter, Emil Salim (Indonesia), Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, told delegations this afternoon, as the Committee concluded its second session.

    Acting without a vote, the Committee adopted its draft report, which included the Chairman’s summaries of discussions and the multi-stakeholder dialogues, as well as a list of proposals for partnerships/initiatives to strengthen the implementation of Agenda 21. Those documents would be forwarded to the Committee’s next session, but were not intended for negotiation.

    The basis for negotiation would be the Chairman’s paper, which was also included in the draft report. This afternoon, delegations had an opportunity to provide preliminary comments on the paper, which would be fleshed out during the Committee’s next session, to be held from 25 March to 5 April.

    Earlier today, the Committee approved a no action motion proposed by China concerning the request by the International Campaign for Tibet for accreditation to the Summit and its preparatory process, by a recorded vote of 93 in favour to 44 against, with 16 abstentions (see annex).

    The Preparatory Committee's two-week session opened with a statement by Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Summit, who stressed that the challenge for Johannesburg was to put sustainability at the centre of the development agenda.

    Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said it was crucial that all perspectives be taken into account in order to develop the broadest ownership of and participation in sustainable development.

    The opening meeting also heard progress reports on preparations for the World Summit. They were presented by representatives of United Nations agencies, as well as organizations and processes involved in the various sustainable development issues. Regional and other groups of States, as well as United Nations commissions, outlined their preparations at a later meeting.

    As executive heads of the specialized agencies addressed the Committee on the session's second day, Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that the 10 years since Rio had largely been about the international community's failure to help developing countries build the capacities to respond seriously to the sustainable development agenda.

    Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), noted that the poorest countries, whose combined population was expected to triple from 658 million to 1.8 billion in the next 50 years, made direct demands on natural resources for survival. If they had no other choices, the damage they caused to the environment would be profound and permanent, she warned.

    Also addressing the Committee were heads and representatives of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), UNEP, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Global Environment Facility (GEF), World Bank, Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

    Beginning its general debate, the Committee heard Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the World Summit, emphasize that the Johannesburg event must be politically relevant to the current world situation. There could be no stability or sustainability if people felt alienated, he said.

    During the session's multi-stakeholder segment, the Committee heard presentations by speakers representing women, youth, farmers, indigenous peoples, business and technology, science and technology, non-governmental organizations, local authorities and trade unions. The two key themes were multi-stakeholder participation in sustainable development, and progress achieved in applying integrated approaches to sectoral objectives of sustainable development.

    The Committee also held a panel discussion on the media and sustainable development. Moderated by Shashi Tharoor, Interim Head of the Department of Public Information, it involved senior broadcast executives and journalists from Brazil, China, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

    Mr. Salim (Indonesia) chaired the Preparatory Committee assisted by eight Vice-Chairs: Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), Richard Ballhorn (Canada), Jan Kara (Czech Republic), Ihab Gamaleldin (Egypt), Kiyotaka Akasaka (Japan), Ositadanma Anaedu (Nigeria), Alexandru Niculescu (Romania), Lars-Goran Engfeldt (Sweden) and Diane Quarless (Jamaica). Ms. Quarless also served as Rapporteur.

    The Commission on Sustainable Development, established in 1993 to follow up on the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, is acting as the Preparatory Committee for the Summit, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September.

    Its third Preparatory Committee session will take place at Headquarters from 25 March to 5 April. The fourth and final Preparatory Committee is scheduled for Jakarta, Indonesia, from 27 May to 7 June.

    Chairman's Texts

    Mr. SALIM (Indonesia), Committee Chairman, drew the Committee’s attention to the following four documents. The first was the Chairman’s summary of the Committee’s second session, which included the results of various conferences and regional preparatory meetings, as well as reports from the heads of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes. While significant results had been achieved, such as the rise in public awareness, it was noted that emerging challenges required that more be done. In addition, a viable programme of action from the Summit could only be effectively implemented with firm political commitment.

    The second document contained the Chairman’s summary of the multi-stakeholder dialogues, he continued. Critical to effective implementation of action programmes would be the commitments and genuine cooperation of all major groups. Accountable, responsible and equal partnerships were crucial for achieving sustainable development. A framework to facilitate such partnerships was deemed necessary. A number of barriers were highlighted by major groups and constructive suggestions were offered. Among the proposals endorsed by participants were stronger interactions between governments and stakeholders and the strengthening of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

    He said preparation of the third document -- the Chairman’s paper for negotiation -- was based on the need to reflect the aspirations presented in the various meetings. The views of both governments and multi-stakeholders were considered. Also, it reflected the need to work together in areas of commonality that bridged the North and South and East and West. The diversity in views was also acknowledged and honoured. The Summit must be successful in drawing a map in the search for a humane and livable environment. Among the areas covered in the paper were poverty eradication, changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, health and sustainable development and the sustainable development of small island developing States.

    The fourth document, he added, contained the proposals for partnerships/initiatives to strengthen the implementation of Agenda 21.

    Discussion of Chairman's Paper

    The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that while the Chairman's paper would serve as a useful starting point for the Preparatory Committee's third session, the text must balance the interests of different States and provide a coherent linkage between type I and type II outcomes. It must be suitable for endorsement by the heads of State and government.

    Venezuela's delegate, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said there were omissions, including the absence of references to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. In addition, there was no definition of those responsible for implementing the proposed actions. Financial issues had not been linked to those of poverty eradication or production and consumption patterns.

    The observer of Switzerland expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the text treated the issue of sustainable mountain development, on which Switzerland and 13 other delegations had submitted proposals. However, the paper lacked references to chemicals and hazardous waste. Likewise, the importance of mainstreaming a gender perspective was not accurately reflected.

    Japan's representative said his delegation would have wished to see a more forceful presentation regarding poverty eradication; energy savings; changes in production and consumption patterns; and actions relating to freshwater, food security, disaster prevention and control of infectious diseases.

    While the representative of the United States said that type II outcomes could give impetus to the idea of sustainable development as more than just a concept, Egypt's delegate stressed that type I and type II outcomes must be seen as complementary rather than exclusive of each other. Agenda 21 must not be renegotiated by default, he added.

    Brazil's delegate said a clear strategy was needed for the third Preparatory Committee. How would the Committee format actions to implement Agenda 21? he asked. What should expectations be for the third Preparatory Committee in terms of shaping concrete proposals? How would they be discussed and developed in Jakarta, as well as clearly spelled out in the assessment and review?

    Bolivia's delegate, urging a dose of reality, pointed out that in order for Africa to achieve the goals of the Millennium Declaration it must grow at an annual rate of 7 per cent for the next 10 years. To achieve that it needed investment amounting to 33 per cent of gross domestic product. Proposals contained in the document had little information as to who would carry out the tasks or how they would be carried out, he said.

    Several delegations emphasized the need for stronger language holding countries to their commitment on means of implementation, particularly regarding financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building. Such issues should be grouped in such a way as to avoid the types of unhelpful confrontations experienced at Rio 10 years ago, they said.

    Accreditation

    At its morning session the Committee had before it a letter dated 27 January 2002 from the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document E/CN.17/2002/PC.2/19) containing the position paper of his Government: No accreditation of the International Campaign for Tibet to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. According to the paper, while the Chinese Government appreciates the active role of non-governmental organizations in the field of sustainable development and welcomes their participation in and contributions to the Summit, the primary objective of the International Campaign for Tibet is to split Tibet from China. All its main activities have been conducted with a view to achieving this primary objective.

    The paper also states that China firmly opposes granting accreditation to the International Campaign for Tibet to take part in the Summit and its preparatory processes and urges the Committee to reject the organization’s application for accreditation.

    During the debate WANG YINGFAN (China) said the International Campaign for Tibet was based outside China and its members were separatist and hostile to the Chinese Government. The organization had never participated in the development of Tibet in the last half-century or more and the real purpose of its activities was to slander the Chinese Government.

    Every country valued its sovereignty and opposed moves to split its territorial integrity, he said. The Chinese delegation asked every Member State to give careful thought to the matter. Allowing accreditation of the International Campaign for Tibet would only complicate the issue of non-governmental organization participation in United Nations activities. China strongly appealed to the meeting not to approve its accreditation to the World Summit.

    JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) said that legitimate non-governmental organizations, including the International Campaign for Tibet, applying for accreditation, could and should be approved. The World Summit would bring the international community together for a comprehensive discussion of sustainable development and any attempt to detract from that goal should be avoided. All non-governmental organizations should be accredited. The International Campaign for Tibet was based in the United States and supported by its Government. The United States delegation urged other delegations to support its participation.

    ROMAN OYARZUN (Spain) on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that European Union support for broad non-governmental organization participation neither implied agreement with the views of the non-governmental organization concerned, nor constituted an endorsement of those views. The presence in Johannesburg of many non-governmental organizations representing a broad range of differing opinions would contribute to a creative and constructive debate and promote links between different groups working to implement sustainable development.

    He said the European Union wholeheartedly supported the United Nations Secretariat's recommendations for non-governmental organization accreditation. It regretted that an objection had been made to the presence of one of those non-governmental organizations at the World Summit. It took note that the non-governmental organization had been accredited and had made a contribution to the World Conference against racism last year. It should also be able to participate at Johannesburg. The European Union, therefore, requested a vote on the issue.

    Mr. WANG (China), taking note of the European Union statement, said his delegation opposed the proposal for a vote. China moved that no action be taken and requested that the meeting hold an immediate recorded vote.

    He said that during the preparatory process for the World Conference against racism, China had expressed its serious concern about the organization's accreditation, but because many delegations had been absent from Geneva, the decision taken there had failed to reflect that concern. Prior to the accreditation review last week, China had clearly indicated the nature of the International Campaign for Tibet, he said. However, in order to avoid having a negative impact on the proceedings, the Chinese delegation had adopted a cooperative attitude, holding consultations with many other delegations.

    He said that only a minority of European Union countries had vigorously endorsed the organization's accreditation. China valued its growing ties with European Union countries and did not wish to see any confrontation regarding the accreditation of any non-governmental organization. China had always actively participated in preparations for the Summit, which should not be disturbed by the International Campaign for Tibet issue.

    MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) supported China’s position on accrediting the International Campaign for Tibet to the Summit. The participation of non-governmental organizations in international conferences, convened by the United Nations, was governed by Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31. The relevance of the organization’s activities to the work of the Conference was of prime importance. Their possible contribution should be taken into account while considering accreditation.

    According to the information provided, he said, the organization was involved in political activities and not economic or social activities. Its activities had no relevance to the work of the Summit. The non-governmental organization had also violated the principle of respect for the territorial integrity of a Member State. Tibet was a part of China. Granting accreditation would politicize the Summit and would be in contravention of United Nations norms. He firmly opposed any move that questioned China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

    Mr. REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said he attached importance to the participation and contribution of non-governmental organizations to the work of the United Nations. That participation should be based on respect for the principles and goals of the Charter. The participation of non-governmental organizations in the activities of the United Nations might be affected if any organization failed to comply with the guidelines for such cooperation. Today, the Committee was dealing with an organization that clearly failed to comply with those requirements. To have a vote on its accreditation would be divisive for the international community. He supported the no action motion presented by China.

    Mr. OYARZUN (Spain) reiterated that his position represented a consensus of all members of the European Union as well as those countries of Central and Eastern Europe that aligned themselves with it. He would vote against the motion, so that the merits of the case could be decided, and appealed to other States to do likewise.

    Mr. NEGROPONTE (United States) stated that for the reasons expressed earlier, his delegation opposed the call for a no action motion.

    By a vote of 93 in favour to 44 against, with 16 abstentions, the no action motion was approved.

    (annex follows)


    ANNEX

    Vote on No Action Motion by China

    The no action motion proposed by China on the request for accreditation by the International Campaign for Tibet to the World Summit for Sustainable Development was approved by a recorded vote of 93 in favour to 44 against, with 16 abstentions, as follows:

    In favour: Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

    Against: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

    Abstaining: Armenia, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Guatemala, Holy See, India, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Romania, Senegal, Swaziland, Uruguay.

    Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Chad, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, El Salvador, Eritrea, Gambia, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Kiribati, Kuwait, Libya, Monaco, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovakia, Somalia, Suriname, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu, Yugoslavia.

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