Press Releases

    ENV/DEV/633
    8 April 2002

    PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT CONCLUDES THIRD SESSION

    Final Session Will Be Held in Bali, Indonesia, 27 May-7 June;
    Votes to Take No Action on Accreditation for Tibet Justice Center

    NEW YORK, 5 April (UN Headquarters) -- As it concluded its third session this evening, the Commission on Sustainable Development acting as the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development decided to take no action on a request to grant accreditation to the Tibet Justice Center for the Summit.

    The Commission approved by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 45 against, with 16 abstentions, a no-action motion proposed by the representative of China (See Annex.)

    Proposing the motion, China's representative said the purpose of the Tibet Justice Center was to split Tibet from China as a sovereign and independent State. Its position was that China was not the legitimate Government of the Tibetan people and its aims were in gross violation of the purposes of the Charter. Allowing the accreditation of such separatist organizations would only encourage them and harm the World Summit, he added.

    The representative of the United States, proposing the accreditation of the Tibet Justice Center, said that all legitimate non-governmental organizations that could contribute to the dialogue on sustainable development should be accredited. The focus should be on whether the organization's work was relevant to the Committee. The Tibet Justice Center contributed in the area of women’s and children’s issues and the environment and was, therefore, well qualified to participate.

    In other business this evening, the Preparatory Committee adopted the report of its third session and heard reports on the status of its three working groups. Working group I is dealing with oceans and energy, working group II with small island developing States and Africa, and working group III is concerned with institutional governance.

    Emil Salim (Indonesia), Committee Chairman, announced that the Indonesian Government had agreed to host three days of informal consultations -- from 24 to 26 May -- prior to the fourth and final session of the Preparatory Committee, which will be held in Bali, Indonesia, from 27 May to 7 June 2002.

    Other speakers this evening were the representatives of Spain (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Pakistan, Cuba, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic, Venezuela (on behalf of the Group of 77), Norway, Saint Lucia, Japan, Hungary and Indonesia.

    Background

    The Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development met this afternoon to adopt the report of its third session, as well as consider organizational matters.

    The Committee had before it a note by the Secretary-General on accreditation of non-governmental organizations and other major groups to the Summit (document A/CONF.199/PC/6). Annex I contains a list of 177 organizations recommended for accreditation to the Summit, and Annex II contains a list of two organizations not recommended for accreditation.

    An addendum to the report (document A/CONF.199/PC/6/Add.1) pertains to the accreditation of the Tibet Justice Center. The Secretariat's evaluation of the organization had shown that its activities were relevant to the work of the Summit. The Secretariat had also come upon information on politically motivated activities of the organization concerning Tibet that were not directly related to sustainable development issues.

    Also before the Committee is a letter dated 25 March from the Permanent Representative of China (document A/CONF.199/PC/12), which contains a position paper, entitled "No accreditation of the Tibet Justice Center to the World Summit on Sustainable Development". In the paper, China firmly opposes the accreditation of the Tibet Justice Center because it is a separatist organization similar to the International Campaign for Tibet, whose application for accreditation was rejected by the Committee.

    Statements

    JONATHAN MARGOLIS (United States) said that legitimate non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the Tibet Justice Center, applying for accreditation to the sustainable development conference, could and should be approved. All those well-established and widely recognized legitimate NGOs could make useful and positive contributions. The conference should accredit all legitimate NGOs that could contribute to the dialogue on sustainable development. The Tibet Justice Center is a United States-based legitimate non-governmental organization, whose participation he supported. The focus should be on whether the work of the organization was relevant to the Committee. The Center contributed in the area of women’s and children’s issues and the environment. Therefore, it was well qualified to be accredited and participate. He urged all States to support their participation, as well. He proposed that the Committee grant the request of the Center for accreditation to the Summit.

    ROMAN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Malta, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, said that the Union welcomed the participation of legitimate NGOs in the preparations for the Summit. In Johannesburg, legitimate NGOs could promote partnerships and contribute to the dialogue. He said that the Union’s support for the broader participation by legitimate NGOs did not imply that it agreed with the views expressed by them. The evaluation of the Center’s activities had shown that it conducted activities relevant to the Summit. He supported the proposal of the United States that accreditation be granted.

    ZHANG YISHAN (China), opposing the proposal by the United States and the European Union to grant accreditation to the Tibet Justice Center, emphasized that the Chinese Government had always supported the participation of legitimate NGOs pursuant to the principles of the United Nations Charter. China had always greatly appreciated their contributions in the field of sustainable development.

    However, he went on, the Tibet Justice Center was not an organization of that nature. Like the International Campaign for Tibet, its purpose was to split Tibet from China as a sovereign and independent State. The position of the Tibet Justice Center was that China was not the legitimate Government of the Tibetan people, and its aims were in gross violation of the purposes of the Charter.

    He recalled that the second session of the Preparatory Committee had rejected the accreditation of the International Campaign for Tibet. It was, therefore, hard to understand why some countries would support the accreditation of the Tibet Justice Center, which was of the same nature. Allowing the accreditation of such separatist organizations would only encourage them and harm the Summit. China proposed that the Committee take no action on the United States proposal and requested an immediate recorded vote on the matter.

    MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan), supporting China's position, reiterated that the participation of legitimate NGOs should be determined by the relevance of their activities. Tibet was a part of China and granting accreditation to the Tibet Justice Center would be tantamount to politicizing the Summit and questioning the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.

    ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said it was necessary and desirable to ensure the broadest participation of legitimate NGOs in a broad and non-selective manner. Their participation should be based on full and strict respect of the Charter, the relevant rules and regulations, and of Economic and Social Council resolutions.

    The exchange of opinions and viewpoints helped to enrich the process, he said. However, that process could be affected by the participation of an organization that did not comply with the most elementary requirements providing for such participation. The Tibet Justice Center had not complied with those requirements. It was surprising that some States would seek to accredit a legitimate non-governmental organization whose goals were not the development of a country, but rather its fragmentation.

    Mr. MARGOLIS (United States) opposed the no-action motion by China. After viewing the Web site of the Center, they simply discussed the issue of self-determination. The United Nations Charter allows for such discussion. He was convinced that the Committee should consider the accreditation of the Tibet Justice Center on its merits. He urged all States to vote against the no-action motion.

    Mr. OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said that the European Union and associated States supported the United States in opposing the no-action motion. He appealed to other delegations to vote against the motion. Doing so would not mean that one supported the accreditation, but that one was interested in discussing the merits of the matter.

    By a vote of 107 in favour to 45 against, with 16 abstentions, the no-action motion was carried. (For details, see Annex.)

    Following that, MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) presented the progress report of working group I, which had discussed sections 1 to 4 of the compilation text. Consultations were held on the sections on energy and oceans. The discussions contributed to a better understanding of the positions of delegations and presented areas of emerging consensus. A revised version of sections 1 to 4 would be submitted soon.

    Mr. BALLHORN (Canada) informed the Committee of the status of discussions of working group II. The group was currently still discussing the text of chapter 5 on globalization and would then address the chapter on Africa, which had yet to have a first reading. The group would continue to meet following the plenary and would deliver a streamlined text soon.

    LARS GORAN ENGFELDT (Sweden) said that working group III had three meetings during the current session of the Committee. Due to the logistical constraints, the group only had one meeting this week. The next step would be to issue a compilation text on governance based on written replies from delegations.

    JAN KARA (Czech Republic) presented the summary of the meetings held on partnerships/initiatives, or so-called "type II" outcomes. The meetings provided delegations a forum to exchange views and clarify questions on potential partnerships. It also provided an opportunity to present new ideas and identify potential partners. A number of questions were raised on the scope and modalities of type II partnerships. It was stressed that such partnerships were not intended to substitute strong commitments by governments, but rather contribute to translating commitments into action. Parameters for their elaboration should be flexible and as simple as possible.

    Committee Chairman EMIL SALIM (Indonesia) said that, despite the significant progress made in the last nine days, the Committee must now move ahead. It was necessary to turn the text coming out of this session into a document that was short, action-oriented and based on convergent views. He requested advice on how to do that before the Bali meeting. The possibility of holding an inter-sessional meeting was explored, but it was difficult. To overcome that, Indonesia would host, from 24 to 26 May, informal consultations in Bali just before the start of the fourth session (27 May-7 June). The first day would be devoted to consultations within the groups, such as the European Union and the "Group of 77" developing countries, and the remaining two days would be devoted to achieving consensus on the document.

    MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, requested the Chairman to prepare a Chairman’s text, which was concise, action-oriented, pragmatic and to be presented as soon as possible. He would have preferred an inter-sessional meeting, but understood the difficulties in doing so. It would have provided an opportunity to engage in negotiations on a Chairman’s text. Nonetheless, he welcomed the hospitable offer of Indonesia.

    Mr. OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), on behalf of the European Union, fully agreed with the proposal by the Group of 77 that the Chairman should prepare a document which should not be a compilation, but be brief and lead the Committee to a consensus. He thanked the Indonesian Government for their generous offer to host additional meetings prior to the start of the Committee’s fourth session.

    Mr. MARGOLIS (United States) fully supported the Group of 77 proposal on how to proceed. Somehow, the Chair should produce a new text that was short, action-oriented, consensus-oriented and was not a compilation. He also thanked the Indonesian delegation for their offer.

    Mr. WALTHER (Norway) said that the past two weeks had brought the Committee closer to a consensus document, but clearly more remained to be done. He urged the Chair to produce a new text, which was cleaner, shorter, more focused and based on the inputs made during last two weeks of deliberations. He was thankful for the opportunity to meet a few days earlier in Bali to continue the Committee’s work. For the action plan to be meaningful, it must be more than a description of the problems faced.

    SONIA R. LEONCE (Saint Lucia) agreed with the Group of 77 that the text should be action-oriented and that the structure of text be maintained. The new text should not give an opportunity to renegotiate the commitments undertaken in "Agenda 21". She was concerned that moving the negotiations from New York to Bali would place her delegation at a disadvantage. Efforts should be made so that small delegations such as hers could participate effectively in future negotiations.

    Mr. AKASAKA (Japan) supported the proposal of the Group of 77 on how the Chairman’s text should be produced and thanked Indonesia for their generous offer.

    Mr. FARAGO (Hungary) said that his delegation was ready to cooperate with the Chair in producing the new text. Further consultations with all stakeholders was the only way to achieve a consensus.

    Mr. BALLHORN (Canada) agreed with the course of action proposed. He hoped that there were ways that developed countries could assist the smaller countries, which were constrained financially to participate actively in Bali.

    MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia) said his Government was willing to undertake the commitment of hosting extra days in addition to the next session because it was committed to a successful outcome in Johannesburg.

    The Committee then adopted the report of its third session.

    The Chair, Mr. SALIM (Indonesia), in his concluding remarks, thanked delegations for their trust in him. He requested their help in making the Summit not one of speeches and words, but one of action.

    (annex follows)


    ANNEX

    Vote on No-Action Motion

    The motion to take no action on the proposed accreditation of the Tibet Justice Center was approved by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 45 against, with 16 abstentions, as follows:

    In favour: Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

    Against: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.

    Abstaining: Armenia, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chad, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Holy See, India, Paraguay, Republic of Korea, Romania, Senegal, Tuvalu, Uruguay.

    Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kuwait, Liberia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Slovakia, Swaziland, Turkmenistan, Ukraine.

    * *** *