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The fifth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-5) convened from 8-25 April 1997 at UN Headquarters in New York to complete formal preparations for UNGASS. It began with a High-Level Segment and a review of reports from the Intersessional Working Group and the CSD Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF).

Delegations continued to identify and elaborate the emerging priority issues that they had considered at the Intersessional. Voluminous amendments to the draft “Proposed Outcome of the Special Session” were considered. Intersessional Co-Chairs Derek Osborn (NGO UK) and Amb. Celso Amorim (Brazil) chaired Drafting Groups I and II, respectively. Drafting Group I considered text on "Sectors and Issues" and "Assessment of Progress Reached after Rio." Drafting Group II considered text on "Integration of Economic, Social and Environmental Objectives" and "Means of Implementation." Informal groups negotiated text on forests, institutional arrangements and the CSD Programme of Work for the next five-year period.

CSD-5 Chair Tolba and Vice-Chair Monika Linn-Locher (Switzerland) also began consultations on a draft political statement for the Heads of State and Government expected to attend the Special Session. Their informal modus operandi was questioned by a number of G-77 delegations at the closing Plenary. They invited Governments to send amendments to a draft distributed at the close of the Session and undertook to circulate a new version by early June.

At the conclusion of CSD-5 numerous brackets remained in the draft documents, including unnegotiated paragraphs dealing with international legal instruments and information and tools to measure progress.