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25th Special Session of the General Assembly (Istanbul+5) for an Overall Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda

Two days of informal consultations begin today in preparation for the 25th Special Session of the General Assembly for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II). The Special Session officially begins on Wednesday, 6 June 2001 and will conclude on Friday, 8 June 2001. On Monday, 4 June and Tuesday, 5 June, delegates will continue negotiations to clear bracketed text from the "Draft declaration on cities and other human settlements in the new millennium." Outstanding issues relate to, inter alia, governance, resources, property rights, strengthening local authorities and the formation of a world solidarity fund for poverty eradication. Delegates will also consider possible inclusion of preambular text, as well as newly proposed paragraphs on foreign occupation and illegal settlements. The Special Session will include a Committee of the Whole (COW), a Thematic Committee and the Plenary. The Thematic Committee will provide a forum for local authorities to present case studies of best practices for carrying out the Habitat Agenda. The Plenary will include statements from member States and a few accredited Habitat partners. Before and during the conference, Habitat will launch both its "Global Report on Human Settlements" and its "State of the World's Cities Report." Mayors, representatives of local authorities, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector, UN agencies and other Habitat Agenda partners have also been invited to hold parallel events to showcase their recent work in human settlements development.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ISTANBUL+5

HABITAT II: The Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) was held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 3-14 June 1996, on the 20th anniversary of the first Habitat Conference (Habitat I), which was held in Vancouver, Canada. Preparations for this Conference included three PrepCom sessions held in Geneva from 11-22 April 1994, in Nairobi from 24 April - 5 May 1995, and in New York from 5-16 February 1996. The Habitat Agenda and the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, adopted by 171 governments during the Conference, outlined commitments and strategies to address shelter and sustainable human settlements, emphasizing themes of partnership and local action. Habitat II, as the culmination of a cycle of UN conferences, witnessed the ground-breaking participation of local authorities, the private sector, parliamentarians, NGOs and other partners in the formulation of the Habitat Agenda. When the international community adopted the Habitat Agenda, it set itself the twin goals of achieving adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development. After much debate, the Conference also reaffirmed the commitment to the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate housing.

53RD GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The General Assembly, during its 53rd session in December 1998, adopted resolution 53/180, which calls for a Special Session of the General Assembly for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Habitat Agenda (Istanbul+5). The resolution stresses the need for the effective participation of Habitat Agenda partners and other relevant actors of civil society in preparing for the Special Session, and to take into account the practice and experience gained at Habitat II. It also decides that the Commission on Human Settlements (CHS), during its 17th and 18th sessions, would focus on monitoring the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, assess its impact, and serve as the Preparatory Committee for the Special Session.

ORGANIZATIONAL SESSION: The organizational session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for Istanbul+5 took place in Nairobi on 13 May 1999. At this session, the CHS, acting as the PrepCom, considered the election of officers, procedures for the approval of credentials, the rules of procedure of the PrepCom, the organization of work, provisional agenda and other arrangements for the first substantive session of the PrepCom. The session elected the Bureau members of the 17th session of the CHS to also serve as the Bureau for the PrepCom and the UNGASS. The Bureau members included: Germán García-Durán (Colombia) as Chair; Amath Dansokho (Senegal), Andrzej Olszowka (Poland) and Manfred Konukiewitz (Germany) as Vice-Chairs; and Mehdi Mirafzal (Iran) as Rapporteur. Delegates decided to hold the first substantive meeting of the PrepCom for five days in May 2000, and also decided that when meeting as a preparatory committee, the Commission would be open-ended to allow full participation of all States and ensure effective participation of local authorities and other Habitat Agenda partners.

PREPCOM I: The first substantive session of the PrepCom for Istanbul+5 was held in Nairobi from 8-12 May 2000. A high-level segment of ministers, heads of delegations and mayors met and focused on the key issues of: the scope to be covered by the review and appraisal process; local, national and regional preparations for the Special Session of the General Assembly; the role of local authorities, other partners and relevant United Nations organizations and agencies in the review and appraisal process; and preparation of a declaration on the role and mandate of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS). A second segment focused on dialogues with local authorities and other partners, in order to present and discuss the planned contributions of local authorities to the review of the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. Participants addressed initiatives such as global campaigns for good urban governance, a proposed world charter on local self-government and global norms for security of tenure.

ECOSOC COORDINATION SEGMENT MEETING: The ECOSOC coordination meeting was held in New York from 10-12 July 2000 to discuss the report by the Secretary-General that reviews the Habitat Agenda and to coordinate implementation by the UN system of the Habitat Agenda. The report outlines the relevance of the Habitat Agenda to the work of the UN system in the economic and social development field and provides information on the Special Session. The Council expressed support for the new strategic vision of UNCHS and its emphasis on the two global campaigns. It also agreed to request that the Secretary-General review participation of UNCHS in all aspects of the work of the Administrative Committee on Coordination, consider adopting a Habitat Agenda task manager system to facilitate coordinated implementation, and streamline reporting to UNCHS and ECOSOC.

55TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The General Assembly considered the ECOSOC report for 2000 at its 55th session. The General Assembly adopted five resolutions relating to the work of the PrepCom at its second session on: the scope to be covered by the Special Session, highlighting the need to reconfirm the goals and commitments of the Habitat Agenda; preparations for the Special Session, which should include a Plenary, an ad hoc COW and a thematic committee; follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit; the ten-year review of progress achieved in the implementation of the outcome of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED); and the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries.

18TH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: The 18th session of the Commission on Human Settlements took place at UNCHS in Nairobi from 12-16 February 2001. The purpose of the session was to discuss the future of the UNCHS, specifically: to debate the work programme and budget for the 2002-2003 biennium; to assess the progress made in the revitalization of Habitat; to review the implementation of the resolutions passed by the Commission at its 17th session; and to decide on the theme, agenda and organization of work of the 19th session. The Commission passed 12 resolutions addressing, inter alia: establishment of the Committee of Permanent Representatives as an intersessional body of the CHS; global campaigns for secure tenure and urban governance; the follow-up to the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II); cooperation between Habitat and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); youth; and illegal Israeli human settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

PREPCOM II: The second substantive session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom II) for Istanbul+5 took place from 19-23 February 2001, at UNCHS in Nairobi, Kenya. Over 500 government delegates from 98 countries, 200 NGO representatives, 30 representatives of local authorities, 26 representatives from the UN and intergovernmental organizations, and 10 parliamentarians attended. Delegates met in Plenary sessions for general debate on the draft report on the overall review and appraisal of implementation and the draft declaration on the cities and other human settlements in the new millennium and on further actions and initiatives for the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. The draft declaration was then forwarded to the Drafting Committee for negotiation. The COW dealt with issues of procedure and organizational matters relating to the June 2001 Special Session. At the end of the week, delegates adopted PrepCom II's report, one resolution and six decisions covering various issues relating to the Special Session, including a proposal on how to structure discussion among the various Habitat Agenda partners; organizational arrangements for the Special Session, which include the rules of procedure; and most of the 62-paragraph "Draft declaration on cities and other human settlements in the new millennium."

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

Following regional consultations on the nomination of bureau members for the Thematic Committee, delegates will meet at 11:00 am in the Trusteeship Council to begin informal negotiations on outstanding issues in the draft declaration and on additional text addressing foreign occupation and illegal settlements. Delegates will also submit proposals on a new preamble by 3:00 pm.

Further information

Participants

Negotiating blocs
Least Developed Countries
Non-state coalitions
NGOs

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