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UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali opened Habitat II and noted that the recent series of UN conferences has shaped an agenda for development and is crucial for the determination of the future of life on this planet. Innovative aspects of Habitat II include the range of partners that have been included in the process and the Best Practices Initiative.

The Conference then elected Turkish President S´┐Żleyman Demirel as President of the Conference. He stated that the Habitat II Conference will generate innovative strategies that reinforce the importance of human development within the larger sustainable development agenda. Habitat II is an all-encompassing conference on humankind and, as the last of the UN conferences of this century, it must incorporate and supplement the successes of prior meetings to achieve a better quality of life for all in the 21st century.

Delegates then adopted the rules of procedure (A/CONF.165/2) and the agenda and other organizational matters (A/CONF.165/1). Representatives from the following countries were elected as Vice-Presidents: Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, Indonesia, Iran, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, El Salvador, Jamaica, Peru, France, Germany, Greece, Sweden, the US, the UK, Bulgaria, Romania and the Russian Federation. Emre G´┐Żnensay, Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, was elected Vice-President ex officio.

Ricardo Gorosito (Uruguay) was elected Rapporteur-General. Shafqat Kakakhel (Pakistan) was elected to chair Committee I (Habitat Agenda) and Martti Lujanen (Finland) was elected to chair Committee II (role of partners). The Credentials Committee included: China, Luxembourg, Mali, the Marshall Islands, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the US and Venezuela.

Delegates then adopted the recommendations of the Pre-Conference Consultations regarding accreditation of international associations of local authorities (A/CONF.165/6 and Add.1) and NGOs (A/CONF.165/5 and Add. 1 and 2). Greece noted its reservations to the accreditation of the West Thrace Turks and Turkey noted its reservations to the non-accreditation of three Turkish Cypriot organizations.

After expressing his gratitude to the city of Istanbul, its leaders and all involved in the preparatory process, Secretary-General of the Conference Wally N’Dow highlighted the importance of Habitat II in forging new pathways for the future of humanity. Partnerships between governments and local authorities and other non-State actors are essential for effective implementation of the Habitat Agenda. The hearings of Committee II would provide an unprecedented platform for these actors. The Best Practices Initiative provides a unique opportunity to share successful strategies that will help bring about the commitments needed to resolve human settlements problems.

Delegates then began the general exchange of views, focusing on the state of human settlements, including strategies for their implementation. General statements continued in Plenary from 3-11 June.

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