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The High-Level Segment was opened on 12 June 1996 by the President of Turkey, S´┐Żleyman Demirel, who said it is essential to review existing policies on shelter and human settlements development. The question at hand is to show the international community’s political will. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said the international community must respond to the processes of urbanization and globalization sooner rather than later. Habitat II has emphasized alliance building, innovative ideas and involved the contributions of many specialized constituencies and stakeholders.

Approximately 120 statements were offered during the two-and-one-half day High-Level Segment, which gave world leaders a platform from which to declare their commitment to improving the settlements in their countries. During the Segment, speakers addressed the major national and global issues of human settlements. They pledged their commitment to implement the Conference’s Global Plan of Action at the national and international levels in cooperation with all the partners who were integrated in the Habitat process — local authorities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and youth.

A number of speakers stressed the importance of national efforts in improving their human settlements. However, several others called for assistance for the developing States and countries in transition to realize economic growth and achieve sustainable human settlements. The importance of international cooperation in translating the Habitat Agenda, goals, principles and commitments into concrete results was also highlighted. The role of the international development and lending institutions, the United Nations system, bilateral donors and the developed countries in helping to attain those goals was stressed by several speakers. Others emphasized the positive aspects of the Conference and its preparatory process, expressing pride in what they had achieved. Particularly important was the agreement in reaffirming the right to housing as a human right, integrating the empowerment of women, and addressing the concerns of youth and indigenous people. Participation of the beneficiaries of housing settlements in decision-making was seen as being crucial in the process of creating sustainable human settlements. Local authorities, non-governmental and community-based organizations, too, should be involved. The eradication of poverty and the development of the rural areas were also highlighted by several speakers.

Copies of the statements delivered during the High-Level Segment are available on the United Nations World Wide Web site at <<http://www.un.org/Conferences/habitat/eng- stat/>>. Summaries of the statements in the official UN press releases from the Conference can be found on the Internet at <<http://www.un.org/Conferences/habitat/eng-pres/3/>>.

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