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SEVENTH SESSION OF THE UN COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
UN Headquarters, New York
19 - 30 April 1999
Version française: BNT
Upton leaves the CSD on the crest of a wave
The closing plenary of the seventh session of the Commission on Sustainable Development was marked by some of the Commissions highest and lowest moments. For the first time in its history the CSD was forced to conduct a vote following the introduction of a Russian resolution on the environmental and humanitarian crisis in the Balkans. The European Union introduced a counter resolution calling for no action on the Balkans resolution, arguing that the CSD was not the place to conduct a debate on peace and security issues. Thirty-three delegations agreed, four dissented and eight abstained. No further action was taken on the Russian attempt to introduce a debate on sustainable development in the Balkans.
The vote stood in stark contrast to the upbeat assessment of the session offered by virtually all of the participants in CSD-7 including Chairman, Simon Upton. His achievement in stimulating a lively ministerial debate to replace the annual anaesthetic spectacle of countless speeches, during the first week of the session, is now expected to influence the organization of the high level input at the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC later this year. Celebrating the "culture change" at the CSD, Upton spoke about the "cracks in the edifice of formal, prepared speeches."
The outgoing Chairman was also delighted to report on the substantive output from the session (RealAudio available below). He was particularly proud of the sessions achievements on the defining issue of oceans governance. He commented: "We have done justice to this. By far the most debate on drafting has attached to the document on oceans." In order to promote improved cooperation and coordination on oceans and seas, the CSD has recommended to the United Nations General Assembly that it establish an open-ended informal consultative process under the aegis of the GA with the sole function of facilitating the effective and constructive consideration of matters within the GAs existing mandate. The CSD has set out overriding principles to guide the process. These include: recognition that the General Assembly is the appropriate body to provide coordination to ensure an integrated approach to oceans, at both the intergovernmental and inter-agency levels; the exercise is to be carried out in full accordance with UNCLOS taking the Rio Summit into account; the GA needs to give more time for the consideration and discussions of the Secretary-Generals report on "Oceans and the Law of the Sea" and for the preparation of debate in plenary; the GA should strengthen existing structures and mandates within the UN system; the role of the GA is to promote coordination and coordination of policies and programmes; participation by member States and observers should be broad and universal; and the exercise should be carried out within annual budgetary resources.
Greenpeace weighed in with the compliments when a spokesman described the CSDs work on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as an "historic breakthrough." (RealAudio available below) If the IMO took the CSDs recommendations on board there could be groundbreaking decisions down the road on implementation of UNCLOS rules governing flag states. Citing statistics, including the fact that a quarter of fish catches are discarded, Upton said: "I cant stress the importance of this point on enforcement enough."
The closing plenary of CSD-7 also adopted decisions on sustainable tourism development, changing consumption and production patterns, the upcoming Special Session of the General Assembly on implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action on Small Island Developing States, a new Group of Experts who will help with preparations for the CSDs forthcoming work on energy and a number of other issues.
Photos and RealAudio from Friday, 30 April
CSD-7 Chair Simon Upton consulting with the legal team on the rules of procedure regarding the vote on the Russian Federation's draft resolution on Sustainable Development in the region of the Balkans (E/CN.17/1999/L.5)
|Delegates awaiting an outcome to the procedural confusion. The Commission was suspended for a few minutes while lawyers and rulebooks were consulted
Chair Upton offering explanations to delegates before reconvening the Commision's final plenary
|On a draft resolution introduced by the RUSSIAN FEDERATION in Drafting Group III, regarding sustainable development in the region of the Balkans, the EU said he was highly concerned about environmental issues and that it was with regret that he had to resort to a motion of no action on the Russian-sponsored resolution. The EU said the Russian resolution dealt with issues of peace and security and the CSD should not set a precedent by entering into such a debate
CANADA expressed support for no action
|CHINA opposed the motion for no action, stating that environmental deterioration in the Balkans should not be ignored due to political considerations
The result of the first ever vote in the CSD was: 33 in favor of the EU motion for no action; 4 against; and 8 abstentions. Upton declared that the EU motion carried
|The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said his delegation had tried to avoid the politicization of his resolution and avoid confrontation and FEDERATION expressed profound regret that the CSD was unable to adopt its resolution
Representatives of various NGOs sharing their impressions on the conclusion of CSD-7
Although the spokesperson for Greenpeace described many aspects of the CSD's work as "business as usual", he described the CSDs work on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as an "historic breakthrough"
For the complete selection of previous days' briefings, images and RealAudio please go to the day's page:
CSD - related sites
|March 1999 Issue of the CSD Update
|CSD NGO Steering Committee web site
|U.N. Sustainable Development web site (including CSD home page)
|Linkages CSD home page
© Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.