Summary report, 16 December 1992

UN General Assembly Discussions on UNCED-Related Issues

Five months after the conclusion of the United Nations Conferenceon Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, the UNGeneral Assembly (UNGA) began to consider a series of specificrecommendations the Conference made to ensure effective follow-up.This process began on Monday, 2 November 1992 with a week-longdebate in the General Assembly Hall (see Earth NegotiationsBulletin, Vol.3, No.1 for a summary of this debate). The focusthen shifted to the Second Committee of the UNGA, which isresponsible for negotiating resolutions on economic and socialissues. The Second Committee decided that all negotiations onUNCED-related resolutions would take place in a special open-endedad hoc working group, under the Chairmanship of MalaysianAmbassador Razali Ismail.

Ambassador Razali's working group began its negotiations onThursday, 5 November 1992 and continued at a frenetic pace forthree weeks until the final meeting was gaveled to a close onWednesday, 25 November. During the course of these meetings, theRazali Group negotiated a total of seven resolutions: the Report onthe UNCED; a Conference on Sustainable Development of Small IslandStates; the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for aConvention to Combat Desertification; a Conference on Straddlingand Highly-Migratory Fish Stocks; Institutional Follow-up to UNCED,including the Commission on Sustainable Development; World WaterDay; and Capacity Building for Agenda 21.

The following report is a resolution-by-resolution summary of theUNGA's negotiations on UNCED-related issues. These resolutions wereadopted by consensus at the 51st meeting of the Second Committee on16 December 1992.


When the UNGA established UNCED in Resolution 44/228, one of theprovisions required the Preparatory Committee to report annually tothe General Assembly. Last year, in Resolution 46/168, the GeneralAssembly requested the UNCED Secretary-General to submit a reportof the Conference to this session of the UNGA. Thus, the firstagenda item for the Razali Group was to consider a draft resolutionendorsing the report submitted by UNCED. This resolution endorsesthe Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 andthe Non-legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles fora Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and SustainableDevelopment of All Types of Forests. The resolution also urgesgovernments, the UN system, intergovernmental and non-governmentalorganizations to take the necessary action to give effectivefollow-up to these agreements. The resolution also notes that theUN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention onBiological Diversity were opened for signature at UNCED andstresses the need for these Conventions to be put into force assoon as possible. Paragraph 5 calls upon all concerned to implementall commitments, agreements and recommendations reached at UNCED,especially by ensuring provision of the means of implementation.Finally, the resolution requests the Secretary-General to submitproposals to the General Assembly at its 49th session regarding therecommendation of the Conference that the UNGA hold a specialsession, not later than 1997, for overall review and appraisal ofAgenda 21.

Negotiations on this resolution began on 5 November. The paragraphthat proved the most difficult was paragraph 5, on the need toimplement financial commitments made in Rio. By 13 November, Razaliwas able to incorporate the concerns of the Group of 77, theEuropean Community, the United States and Japan into a singleparagraph that reads: "Calls upon all concerned to implement allcommitments, agreements and recommendations reached at the UNCED,especially by ensuring provision of the means of implementationunder Section IV of Agenda 21, stressing in particular theimportance of financial resources and mechanisms, transfer ofenvironmentally sound technology, cooperation and capacitybuilding, and international institutional arrangements, in order toachieve sustainable development in all countries;".


The second resolution addressed by the Razali Group establishes aConference on the Sustainable Development of Small IslandDeveloping States, as proposed in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21. Withinthe G-77, the members of the Alliance of Small Island States(AOSIS) drafted the resolution that was first considered by theRazali Group on 7 November. The first draft called on the UNGA toconvene this Conference in June 1993. After a number of delegatesexpressed concern about the timetable, the date was changed toApril 1994.

Paragraph 5, the heart of the resolution, addresses the objectivesand scope of the Conference. The original draft stated that theConference will examine strategies for national and internationalaction with a view to arriving at specific agreements andcommitments by governments and intergovernmental organizations fordefined activities to support environmentally sound development ofsmall island countries, with particular emphasis on combattingpoverty and improving the quality of life. The original draft putparticular emphasis on development planning and policies that donot introduce new forms of conditionality in aid or in developmentfinancing and do not create unjustified trade barriers. Theoriginal draft also highlighted the need to address the impacts ofclimate change, sea-level rise and international economic changeson small island States. The final draft changed considerably fromthe earlier version, as drafted by AOSIS. The final paragraphremoved many of the points listed above, especially those that puta strong emphasis on the policies of industrialized countries andstates that the Conference will:

  • Review current trends in the socio-economic development of small island developing States;
  • Examine the nature and magnitude of the specific vulnerabilities of small island developing States;
  • Define a number of specific actions and policies relating to environmental and development planning to be undertaken by these States, with help from the international community;
  • Identify the elements that these States need to include in their medium- and long-term sustainable development plans;
  • Recommend measures for enhancing the endogenous capacity of these States; and
  • Review whether institutional arrangements at the international level enable these States to give effect to the relevant provisions of Agenda 21.

The paragraph that addresses NGO participation in the Conferencealso led to a long discussion. The original text requested NGOs inand eligible for consultative status with ECOSOC to contribute tothe Conference. A number of delegates were not satisfied with thislanguage and made proposals that enhanced the participation ofNGOs. The UK, on behalf of the European Community, proposedlanguage that would base NGO participation on UNCED rules.Pakistan, on behalf of the G-77, preferred language that wouldencourage participation of NGOs from small island States anddeveloping countries that do not have ECOSOC status. The finalparagraph: "Invites relevant non-governmental organizations fromdeveloped and developing countries, in particular those from smallisland developing States, including those related to major groups,to contribute, within the areas of their competence and expertise,to the Conference on the basis of procedures for theiraccreditation used in UNCED as recommended in paragraph 38.44 ofAgenda 21;".

The sources of funding for the Conference were also of concern tosome delegations. The UK, supported by the US, stated that thisConference should be funded from within existing budgetaryresources, without prejudicing other activities, as this is theformula that has been used in other conferences. The finalparagraph, which was the last one to be agreed on, reads: "Decidesthat the funds necessary for the preparatory process and theConference itself should, subject to the relevant provisions ofGeneral Assembly resolution 40/243, 41/213 and 42/211, be madeavailable within the programme budget without adversely affectingother ongoing activities and without prejudice to the provision ofextra-budgetary resources." With agreement on this last paragraphon Thursday, 19 November, the Razali Group finished itsconsideration of this resolution.

The final resolution convenes the first Global Conference on theSustainable Development of Small Island Developing States in April1994 for two weeks in Barbados. To accomplish the objectives statedabove, a preparatory committee will be established. The preparatorycommittee shall hold a two-day organizational session at UNHeadquarters not later than April 1993 to elect officers anddetermine the organization of its work. The preparatory committeeshall hold one substantive session for two weeks in August 1993 atUN Headquarters. The resolution also welcomes the candidature ofAustralian Ambassador Penny Wensley for the chairmanship of thePreparatory Committee.


Chapter 12 of Agenda 21 requested the UNGA to establish anintergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) for a convention tocombat desertification to be completed by June 1994. The AfricanGroup drafted a non-paper, which was to become the basis for thedraft resolution, and submitted it to the G-77. After considerabledebate and redrafting, the G-77 introduced the draft in the RazaliGroup on Saturday, 7 November. The draft was primarily proceduralin nature, leaving the substantive matters to be decided by theINC.

Substantive discussions of the draft desertification resolutionbegan on Friday, 13 November. The US, as part of a large package ofamendments to the draft, proposed changing the first operativeparagraph of the resolution, which welcomes the results andrecommendations of UNCED, to make particular reference to Chapter12 of Agenda 21, "Combatting desertification and drought". The G-77objected saying that the question of desertification involves somecross-sectoral issues and, therefore, a specific reference toChapter 12 may not encompass all the other related issues containedin Agenda 21. The final compromise welcomes the results andrecommendations of UNCED on the issue of desertification,"particularly Chapter 12 of Agenda 21".

The US also recommended adding a new paragraph that would ask theINC to consider whether or not drought and desertification problemscan best be addressed by a single convention or rather by separateagreements and protocols. The G-77 had difficulty with thisproposal as there should be a single convention. The US finallyagreed to withdraw its amendment on Wednesday, 18 November.

Paragraph 4 of the draft resolution led to a long debate about thenumber of negotiating sessions as well as the venues for thesesessions. The draft stated that "the Intergovernmental NegotiatingCommittee, in addition to an organizational session, shall holdfive substantive sessions, each lasting for two weeks, which willbe held respectively at Nairobi, Rome, Geneva, Paris and New York".The EC asked who would host the meetings away from UN centers.Japan and Australia expressed concern about the number of meetingsand the logistics of holding meetings in so many differentlocations. The G-77 responded that it was not the Group's intentionto "undertake a tour of the world", but the Group believed that theinput provided by the agencies with headquarters in these cities(UNEP in Nairobi, FAO in Rome and UNESCO in Paris) is important.France and UNESCO commented that they would probably be able tohost the Paris meeting, however, Italy said that since their budgetfor 1993 was already endorsed, it may be difficult for them tofinance the meeting in Rome. The paragraph was then reformulated,dropping reference to Rome.

Scheduling concerns also predominated the debate on paragraph 6,which "decides also that an organizational session of a duration ofone week shall be held in New York in February 1993 in order toorganize the work of the Committee and to elect the Bureau...". TheEC questioned the need for such a lengthy organizational sessionand stated its preference for a two-day session. The G-77 explainedthat it would probably take a week to discuss the organization ofwork. The final compromise reads that provisions be made "for anorganizational session of up to one week to be held in New York notlater than February 1993...".

Another paragraph that led to lengthy debate was paragraph 12,which establishes a multi-dimensional expert group to assist theINC in its mandate in the scientific, technical and legal fields.The EC cited the problems that the biodiversity INC had with itsexpert group that became "sort of an INC bis". Japan wanted to knowhow the expert group would be funded. The US expressed preferencefor a small, 10-15 member group that would act as a conduit forinformation, rather than a generator of information. The final textreads: "Decides to establish a multi-disciplinary panel of expertsto assist the ad hoc secretariat and, under its authority, toprovide necessary expertise in the scientific, technical, legal andother related fields,...".

Although all of the paragraphs that deal with the funding of theINC led to numerous comments, the only other major issue to emergewas the participation of NGOs. The original language read, "Invitesthe relevant non-governmental organizations to contribute to thesuccess of the negotiating process." The EC wanted to make thislanguage clearer by inviting "all relevant" NGOs to "contributefully and constructively". The US stressed that there must be rulesof the game so that NGOs know the basis of their participation.China, the G-77 and the EC discussed what precedent should be used:resolution 45/212, which established the INC for the Climate ChangeConvention, or decision 1/1 of UNCED. The G-77 specifically wantedlanguage that would encourage the participation of NGOs fromdeveloping countries. The final text as agreed on 18 Novemberreads: "Invites all relevant non-governmental organizations andespecially encourages those from developing countries, tocontribute constructively to the success of the negotiating processin accordance with the rules of procedure of the IntergovernmentalNegotiating Committee and taking into account procedures used inthe UNCED process;".

The Razali Group finished consideration of the resolution on 18November. The final resolution welcomes the candidature of SwedishAmbassador Bo Kjell‚n for the Chair of the INC. The resolutionstates that the INC, which will finalize the convention by June1994, will have an organizational session in New York by February1993. The ad hoc Secretariat, to be established by theSecretary-General, will be located in Geneva. The resolution didnot establish the schedule of the substantive sessions of the INC.


Chapter 38 of Agenda 21 requested the UNGA to establish ahigh-level Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to ensurethe effective follow-up of UNCED. The draft resolution oninstitutional arrangements to follow up the UNCED process was firstdiscussed on Wednesday, 11 November and did not come to a closeuntil 15 December, 20 days after the "final" meeting of the RazaliGroup. At the Group's meeting on 25 November, Ambassador Razaliannounced that he would hold additional consultations on theparagraphs that address the location of the Commission'ssecretariat and the venue of the Commission's meetings. Theseissues were not resolved in the draft resolution, but rather leftpending as delegates were still divided. Razali conductedadditional consultations at the Malaysian mission during the secondweek of December before a fragile consensus was finally reached.Yet on 15 December, when many expected the Second Committee to meetand approve all the UNCED-related resolutions, an emergency meetingof the Razali Group was held to discuss the paragraph on the venueof the Commission's meetings once again.

The following highlights some of the key issues that emerged duringthe negotiations on the 34-paragraph resolution.


Paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 set out the terms of reference of the CSD.The final version of paragraph 3 differed little from the originaldraft. Paragraph 3 lists the functions of the Commission, as agreedin paragraphs 38.13, 33.13 and 33.21 of Agenda 21. The functionslisted in this paragraph include:

  • Monitor progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 throughout the UN system;
  • Consider information provided by governments regarding the activities they undertake to implement Agenda 21, the problems they face, and other environment and development issues they find relevant;
  • Review the progress in the implementation of commitments contained in Agenda 21, including those related to provision of financial resources and transfer of technology;
  • Review and monitor progress towards the UN target of 0.7% of GNP for ODA;
  • Review the adequacy of financing and mechanisms;
  • Receive and analyze relevant input from competent NGOs in the context of the overall implementation of Agenda 21;
  • Enhance the dialogue within the framework of the UN with NGOs and the independent sector;
  • Consider information regarding the progress made in the implementation of environmental conventions;
  • Provide appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly, through ECOSOC, on the basis of an integrated consideration of the reports and issues related to the implementation of Agenda 21; and
  • Consider the results of the survey to be conducted by the UN Secretary-General of all UNCED recommendations for capacity-building programmes, information networks, task forces and other mechanisms to support the integration of environment and development at regional and sub-regional levels.

Paragraph 4, which lists other matters to be addressed by the CSD,turned into one of the more contentious paragraphs of the text.Many G-77 members argued that the role of the CSD should be limitedto review of implementation of Agenda 21 and did not want toinclude in its terms of reference any functions related to the RioDeclaration, the Statement on Forest Principles, updating Agenda 21or the elaboration of recommendations on the need for new legalinstruments. Most of the developed countries found such functionsvery important. The final compromise, which reflects theunderstanding that these functions will be performed in the contextof review of Agenda 21 implementation, recommends that theCommission shall:

  • Promote the incorporation of the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in the implementation of Agenda 21;
  • Promote the incorporation of the forest principles statement in the implementation of Agenda 21, in particular in the context of the review of the implementation of Chapter 11; and
  • Keep under review the implementation of Agenda 21 and make recommendations, as appropriate, on the need for new cooperative arrangements related to sustainable development to ECOSOC and, through it, to the General Assembly.

Paragraph 5, which was proposed by the G-77, addresses the role ofthe CSD in relation to financial resources and transfer oftechnology. Although many of the developed countries did not thinkthat this paragraph was necessary, they did eventually agree to itsretention, provided that it did not go beyond provisions of Agenda21. The final paragraph states that the Commission shall:

  • Monitor progress in promoting, facilitating and financing, as appropriate, the access to and the transfer of environmentally-sound technologies and corresponding know-how, in particular to developing countries, on favorable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed, taking into account the need to protect intellectual property rights as well as the special needs of developing countries for the implementation of Agenda 21; and
  • Consider issues related to the provision of financial resources from all available funding sources and mechanisms, as contained in paragraphs 33.13, 33.14, 33.15 and 33.16 of Agenda 21.


Paragraph 6, which sets the parameters for representation on theCSD, led to a protracted debate. Among the contentious issues thatsurfaced were: (1) Fairness of representation within the regionalgroups. New Zealand, supported by AOSIS, stressed that in additionto having membership based on equitable geographical distribution,there should also be rotational fairness and no permanent or evensemi-permanent members, so that all countries who wish to serve onthe CSD will have the opportunity to do so. Others, including theEC, Japan, China, Egypt and Morocco, believed that this was amatter for the regional groups, not the General Assembly; (2)Should representatives on the CSD be subject to the approval of theSecretary-General? The G-77 did not think this was necessary, butthe EC did; and (3) Size of the Commission. Agreement on the sizeof the Commission was reached relatively quickly, since alldelegations, with the exception of the Netherlands, agreed thatthere should be 53 states represented on the CSD. The Netherlandssupported a smaller body of 24 members.

The final text recommends that the Commission consist ofrepresentatives of 53 States elected by ECOSOC from among theMember States of the UN and its Specialized Agencies for 3-yearterms with due regard to equitable geographical distribution. Therewas no mention of fairness of representation.


The issue of EC participation in the work of the CSD came up duringdiscussion of paragraph 7, which includes provisions forparticipation of intergovernmental and non-governmentalorganizations. The G-77 did not think that the reference to the ECwas necessary, as it is covered under the provisions forintergovernmental organizations. The UK, on behalf of the EC,explained that EC member states have devolved to the Community anumber of responsibilities that would otherwise fall to sovereignnations, including trade, agricultural policy and fisheries. Thus,unless the Community were allowed to participate in the work of theCSD, the member states would have no voice on these importantissues. The G-77 then expressed concern about voting. The UKreiterated firmly that there is no question of voting nor does theEC want a permanent seat, however, the EC must be allowed toparticipate in order to allow members of the Community a voice onsuch issues as agriculture, trade and fisheries. Pakistan, Chinaand Japan still had some concerns.

After lengthy negotiation, the final text that addresses theparticipation of the EC emerged. This section of paragraph 7(a)reads: "provide for the European Economic Community, within itsareas of competence, to participate -- as will be appropriatelydefined in the Commission on Sustainable Development rules ofprocedure -- fully, without the right to vote;".


The debate on NGO participation was a testimony to the importanceof NGOs in the UNCED process and was, by and large, completelysupportive of NGO participation in the CSD. Most of the debaterelated to three issues: (1) rules of procedure to be used for NGOparticipation; (2) balance between NGOs operating in the fields ofenvironment and development; (3) balance in the participation ofNGOs from developed and developing countries; and (4) the need toensure the intergovernmental nature of the Commission.

The final text on NGO participation is incorporated withinparagraph 8, which requests the Secretary-General to submit for theconsideration of ECOSOC at its organizational session in 1993 hisproposed rules of procedure for the Commission, including thoserelated to the participation of relevant Inter-GovernmentalOrganizations (IGOs) and NGOs, as recommended by UNCED, taking intoaccount the following:

  • The procedures, while ensuring the intergovernmental nature of the Commission, should allow its members to benefit from the expertise and competence of relevant IGOs and NGOs;
  • The procedures should permit relevant IGOs inside and outside the UN system, including multilateral financial institutions, to appoint special representatives to the Commission;
  • Rules of procedure of ECOSOC and the rules of procedure of its functional commissions;
  • Rules of procedure of UNCED;
  • Decisions 1/1 and 2/1 of the Preparatory Committee for UNCED; and
  • Paragraphs 38.11 and 38.44 of Agenda 21.


Paragraph 9 deals with the timing and venue of the meetings of theCommission and paragraph 10 requests the Committee on Conferencesto consider the need for readjusting the calendar of meetings totake into account the interrelationship between the CSD and otherUN bodies. A number of issues emerged in this debate, including:(1) the need to meet after the governing councils of UNDP and UNEP,yet before the meeting of ECOSOC; (2) the need for a flexiblemeeting schedule of two to three weeks; and (3) the fact that theCommission should meet in either New York or Geneva but notalternate between the two cities. AOSIS and Japan stated theirpreference to hold all meetings in New York. The RussianFederation, the US, Switzerland and the EC favor Geneva.

The venue question in paragraph 9 proved to be the most difficultto resolve. By 25 November, and after intensive consultations,paragraph 9 read: "Recommends that the Commission on SustainableDevelopment shall meet once a year for a period of two to threeweeks. The first substantive session of the Commission will be heldin New York in 1993, without prejudice to the venue of its futuresessions;".

When Razali returned from the GEF participants meeting on 8December, he held a series of consultations at the Malaysianmission in an attempt to resolve this issue. The delegates,however, remained divided. Some preferred CSD meetings in New York,others preferred Geneva and still others proposed rotating betweenthe two cities. After many late night sessions, a fragile,ambiguous compromise was reached: "Recommends that the Commissionon Sustainable Development shall meet once a year for a period oftwo to three weeks. The first substantive session of the Commissionwill be held in New York in 1993, without prejudice to the venue ofits future sessions in Geneva and/or New York;".

Yet, just when it looked as though the negotiations had finallycome to a close and the Second Committee was preparing to adopt allof the UNCED-related resolutions, Vanuatu and a number of otherdelegates called for an emergency meeting of the Razali Group todiscuss this paragraph one more time. These delegates wanted toclarify just what they were actually agreeing to in this paragraphand what body would make the final decision on the venue of theCommission's meetings. After nearly two hours of discussion on 15December, delegates agreed to leave the paragraph as is, but toinstruct Ambassador Razali to conduct additional consultationsduring the coming months and call for a resumed session of the 47thGeneral Assembly to adopt the results. As the 47th General Assemblycan be resumed at any time between January and the third Tuesday inSeptember 1993, when the 48th General Assembly begins, it could besome time before consensus is reached. The delegates made it veryclear, however, that the General Assembly must make the finaldecision -- not ECOSOC or the CSD, which are both limited-memberbodies -- as this is mandated in paragraph 38.12 of Agenda 21.


The paragraphs that address the organization of work of the CSD arethe heart of the resolution. The negotiations on paragraph 14 werethe longest and most contentious. The EC, supported by a number ofdeveloped countries, insisted that sessions of the CSD be organizedin the form of segments, as proposed in the Secretary-General'sreport. The segments, as defined by the Secretary-General, include:one on issues relating to finance and transfer of technology; oneon the implementation of Agenda 21 by international organizations;and a third on the implementation of Agenda 21 at the national andregional levels. Many of the G-77 members and China rejected theconcept of segments and argued that all issues related to Agenda 21implemenation at international, regional and national levels shouldbe discussed simultaneously. This was based in part on the concernthat a separate segment on national implementation would monitornational compliance with Agenda 21. Private consultations andinformal meetings went on for over a week before there wasagreement on paragraph 14. The issue was not totally resolved,however, as the decision of the organization of work must still betaken up by the Commission itself.

Paragraph 12 reads that the CSD should adopt a multi-year thematicprogramme of work that will provide a framework to assess progressachieved in the implementation of Agenda 21 and ensure anintegrated approach to all of its environment and developmentcomponents as well as linkages between sectoral and cross-sectoralissues. Paragraph 13 requests the Secretary-General to submit hisproposals for such a programme of work during the organizationalsession of the CSD. Paragraph 14 recommends further that theCommission consider organizing its work on the following lines: (a)financial resources, mechanisms, transfer of technology, capacitybuilding and other cross-sectoral issues; (b) review ofimplementation of Agenda 21 at the international level, as well asat the regional and national levels, including the means ofimplementation, in accordance with paragraph 12 above and thefunctions of the Commission, taking into account, whereappropriate, information regarding the progress in theimplementation of relevant environmental conventions; and (c) aHigh-Level Meeting, with Ministerial participation, to have anintegrated overview of the implementation of Agenda 21, to consideremerging policy issues and to provide necessary political impetusto the implementation of decisions of UNCED and commitmentscontained therein.


There are four sections of the resolution that address therelationship with other UN bodies: ECOSOC and the General Assembly;coordination within the UN system; UNEP, UNDP, UNCTAD and UNSO; andregional commissions. In the first section, there were someproblems with the paragraph that asks the Secretary-General to takeaccount of the organizational modalities of the CSD in therestructuring and revitalization of the UN in the economic, socialand related fields. The G-77 proposed deleting this paragraph as ittrespasses on the General Assembly in the area of UN restructuring.The EC, the Russian Federation, the US and Austria argued for theretention of the part that addresses the need to optimize the workof the CSD and other inter-governmental UN bodies dealing withmatters related to environment and development. The final textemphasizes that the ongoing restructuring of the UN in theeconomic, social and related fields should take into account theorganizational modalities for the CSD with a view to optimizing thework of the Commission and other intergovernmental UN bodiesdealing with matters relating to environment and development.

The section, "Coordination within the UN system", originallycontained eight paragraphs, but was easily streamlined down tofour. Paragraphs 21-24: (1) request all UN specialized agencies andrelated organizations to strengthen and adjust their activities andprogrammes in line with Agenda 21; (2) invite all relevantgoverning bodies to ensure that the tasks assigned to them arecarried out effectively; (3) invite the World Bank and otherinternational, regional and sub-regional financial and developmentinstitutions, including the GEF, to submit regularly to the CSDreports on their experience, activities and plans to implementAgenda 21; and (4) request the Secretary-General to submit to theCSD at its substantive session in 1993, recommendations andproposals for improving coordination of programmes within the UNsystem.

The section "UNEP, UNDP, UNCTAD and UNSO", originally containedfour paragraphs. The G-77 said that all four of these paragraphsshould be deleted, since they pick up only certain parts of Agenda21 and they should allow Chapter 38 of Agenda 21 to "stand on itsown feet". The EC supported the deletion of two paragraphs, butargued for the retention of the other two. After some redrafting,the final two paragraphs (25 and 26): (1) request the GoverningCouncils of UNEP and UNDP and the Trade and Development Board toexamine the relevant provisions of Chapter 38 of Agenda 21 at theirnext sessions and submit reports on their specific plans toimplement Agenda 21; and (2) take note of the work of the UN Centreon Urgent Environmental Assistance established by UNEP on anexperimental basis and invites the Governing Council to report tothe GA at its 48th session on the experience gained within theCentre.

The two paragraphs under the heading "Regional Commissions" werecomparatively non-controversial. Paragraph 27 requests UN regionalcommissions to examine relevant provisions of Chapter 38 at theirnext session and submit reports on their specific plans toimplement Agenda 21. Paragraph 28 further requests ECOSOC to decideon the arrangements required so that the reports of the regionalcommissions be made available to the CSD by 1994.


There was not much debate on the paragraphs on the High-LevelAdvisory Board. Both the G-77 and the EC were satisfied with theparagraphs as originally drafted. China pointed out that the draftstated that the main task of the Board is to review implementationof Agenda 21. However, this is not the task of this Board, but ofthe Commission itself. Canada stated that Agenda 21 did notenvisage a permanent Board and proposed a rotating roster ofexperts under which certain experts can be chosen based on theissue under discussion. Not only would this give flexibility to theAdvisory Board, it would also be more cost-effective than having apermanent standing Board.

The final paragraphs 29-31 state that: (1) the High-Level AdvisoryBoard should consist of eminent persons broadly representative ofall regions of the world, with recognized expertise on the broadspectrum of issues to be dealt with by the CSD, drawn from relevantscientific disciplines, industry, finance and othernon-governmental constituencies, as well as various disciplinesrelated to environment and development, and that due account begiven to gender balance; (2) the main task of this Board is to givebroad consideration to issues related to implementation of Agenda21 and provide expert advice in that regard to theSecretary-General and through him/her to the Commission, ECOSOC andthe General Assembly; and (3) the Secretary-General should submitappropriate proposals to the organizational session of ECOSOC in1993, including the possibility of organizing expert rosters.


The most frequently raised issue in the discussion on the sectionon "Secretariat Support Arrangements" was the need for genderbalance in the CSD Secretariat. Thailand, Antigua and Barbuda,Finland, Benin, the US, Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and NewZealand all proposed or endorsed amendments relating to genderbalance. All of these amendments were originally prepared by theWomen's Caucus, an ad hoc caucus of representatives of women'sorganizations from all continents.

The G-77 pointed out that the CSD Secretariat should be a "separateidentifiable entity" and have "effective interaction with theDepartment on Economic and Social Development". The US, supportedby Australia, Japan and Sweden, disagreed saying that it is notappropriate to inform the Secretary-General on how he shouldorganize his Secretariat.

On the sub-paragraph addressing the location of the Scretariat, theG-77 proposed that there should also be an office of theSecretariat in Nairobi, as well as in Geneva and New York. The USand the Russian Federation supported locating the Secretariat inGeneva. The US, supported by Japan, proposed deleting reference toa liaison office in Nairobi. Although the UK agreed with the US onthis, as it could be an expensive undertaking, he suggestedamending the reference to include a liaison office in Nairobi, inaccordance with the UNCED arrangements.

The G-77 proposed that the Secretariat be headed by a high levelofficial at the level of Under Secretary-General under theauthority of the Secretary-General and with direct access to him.The US and the UK requested deleting reference to the level of thedirector.

Many of these arguments became moot points, however, after UNSecretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali made his announcement on 4December about the restructuring of the UN in the economic andsocial sectors (see page 8). As a result, Razali held additionalconsultations to rewrite this paragraph to take into account theimplications of the Secretary-General's announcement on the CSDSecretariat.

The final text for paragraph 32 reads as follows:

"Takes note of the decision of the Secretary-General to establishat the Under Secretary-General level a new Department for PolicyCoordination and Sustainable Development and in this context callsupon the Secretary-General to establish a clearly identifiable,highly qualified and competent Secretariat support structure toprovide support for the Commission on Sustainable Development, theInter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development and theHigh-Level Advisory Board, taking into account gender balance atall levels, the paramount importance of securing the higheststandards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and theimportance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geographical basisas possible in accordance with Articles 8 and 101 of the Charter ofthe United Nations and the following criteria:

  • It should draw on the expertise gained and the working methods and organizational structures developed in the UNCED preparatory process;
  • It should work closely with the UN and other expert bodies in the field of sustainable development and cooperate closely and cooperatively with the economic and social entities of the Secretariat and the secretariats of relevant organs, organizations and bodies of the UN system. It should also provide for effective liaison with relevant NGOs, in particular NGOs from developing countries;
  • The Secretariat will be located in New York, with a relevant office in Geneva to establish close links with activities related to follow up of legal instruments, signed at or mandated by the UNCED, and to liaise with agencies in the fields of environment and development. The Secretariat should also have a liaison office in Nairobi, on the basis of UNCED arrangements;
  • It should be headed by a high-level official designated by the Secretary-General to work closely and directly with him and with assured access to him, as well as with the heads of relevant organizations of the UN system, including the multilateral financial and trade organizations, dealing with the implementation of Agenda 21;
  • It should be funded from the UN Regular Budget and depend to the maximum extent possible upon existing budgetary resources;
  • It should be supplemented or reinforced, as appropriate, by secondments from other relevant bodies and agencies of the UN system, national governments and appropriate specialists on limited term contracts from outside the UN;
  • It should take into account relevant resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly and ECOSOC regarding women in the UN Secretariat; and
  • Sustainable development should be integrated and coordinated with other economic, social and environmental activities of the Secretariat and be consistent with consensus resolutions on the restructuring of the UN in these fields.

Provision was made in paragraph 33 for interim Secretariatarrangements to ensure adequate preparations for the first sessionof the Commission.


One of the more contentious issues within the UNCED discussions onoceans was the concern, particularly of coastal and distant waterfishing States, that the over-exploitation of living marineresources in the high seas, especially of highly migratory andstraddling fish stocks, has an adverse impact on resources withinexclusive economic zones. This issue could not be resolved in Rio,so governments instead agreed to call for an intergovernmentalconference to be convened under UN auspices. The resolutionestablishing this conference was the last of the five majorresolutions to be negotiated by the Razali Group. Razali had askedinterested government delegates to hold consultations and come upwith a draft resolution that could be accepted as a "package". Whenthe resolution came before the Razali Group on Saturday, 21November, however, it was clear that consensus had not been reachedon every paragraph.

One of the major issues was the time-frame of the Conference. TheEC did not want the Conference to turn into an open-ended series ofconferences. In operative paragraph 1, the representative from theEC stated that it is important to try to complete the work of theConference as early as possible and, thus, proposed that theparagraph read that the Conference "should complete its work asearly as possible in advance of the 49th regular session of the UNGeneral Assembly." Canada objected saying that even though the workshould be done expeditiously, the Conference should not be"straight-jacketed".

Another issue was the location of the Conference and theSecretariat. In paragraph 7, Sweden questioned the desirability ofholding the Conference at UN Headquarters and proposed holding itat FAO Headquarters in Rome. Argentina disagreed and said not onlyshould the Conference be in New York, but the Law of the Sea officeshould serve as the Secretariat. Sweden then suggested that thelocation of the Secretariat and the venue for the Conference shouldbe discussed at the organizational session proposed in paragraph 5.New Zealand and the US both commented that this was the first theyhad heard about holding the Conference in Rome and suggestedkeeping it in New York. Argentina, supported by Canada, alsoproposed putting language back in this paragraph indicating thatthe Conference would also consider its future work programme atthis session as well. Consistent with their interventions onparagraph 1, both the EC and Japan objected to including the phrasethat mentions a future work programme.

On paragraph 9, which establishes a voluntary fund for the purposeof enabling developing States to participate in the Conference, theEC objected to the reference of "Small Island Developing States" asa separate category of recipients. His group believed that theseStates were adequately covered by the phrase "developing States, inparticular the least developed countries". Argentina and NewZealand argued that the special attention these States receivedduring UNCED should be continued.

The final text agrees to convene the Intergovernmental Conferencefor three weeks in July 1993 at UN Headquarters in New York. Anorganizational session will be held prior to the Conference (thedate was not specified) to elect officers and determine theorganization of work. The Conference should complete its work "asearly as possible" in advance of the 49th session of the UNGA. TheConference will take into account relevant activities at all levelswith a view to promoting effective implementation of the provisionsof the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on straddling andhighly-migratory fish stocks. The Conference, drawing on scientificand technical studies by FAO, should: identify and assess existingproblems related to the conservation and management of such fishstocks; consider means of improving fisheries cooperation amongStates; and formulate appropriate recommendations. NGOs fromdeveloped and developing countries are invited to contribute withinthe areas of their competence and expertise to the conference onthe basis of procedures for their accreditation used in UNCED. TheSecretary-General of the UN will make the appropriate Secretariatarrangements for the Conference.


Even though the Razali Group was only initially responsible forfive resolutions, there was also an interest in having a resolutionto establish a "World Day for Water". This resolution was discussedon Wednesday, 25 November, the final meeting of the Razali Group.Razali announced that whereas the draft resolution declares 21March of each year as World Day for Water, it turns out that thisis the international day for the elimination of racialdiscrimination. So instead, 22 March has been proposed. Canada thensaid that they had not been consulted on the date. Canada has aboutone-fifth of the freshwater resources of the world, but in Marchmost of its freshwater is frozen. She then said that WorldEnvironment Day is on 5 June and maybe Water Day could be the daybefore or after since by that time Canada's freshwater would bethawed. Razali responded that a large number of days are alreadyspoken for in the international calendar and 22 March was chosenbecause it is the beginning of spring, even though that season isonly seen in some parts of the world.

Japan then said that his delegation also had a problem with thedate since it is an important day for Buddhists, who go to thetemples to hold dialogues with their ancestors. He went on to saythat Japan has already designated 1 April as Water Day. Taking thisinto account, he proposed amending paragraph 2 to include thephrase "to the extent that it is possible to do so in the contextof their socio-economic circumstances and cultural traditions andwithout prejudice to already established practices of this natureat the national level". Morocco and Benin did not think such anamendment was necessary. India proposed a compromise "InvitesStates to devote this day, as appropriate in the national context,to concrete activities...". This language was accepted.

The only other paragraph to generate discussion was paragraph 6,which reads "Recommends that the Commission on SustainableDevelopment, in the execution of its mandate, attach priority tothe implementation of Chapter 18 of Agenda 21". India proposedinserting the word "highest" before "priority". The US and Japanbelieved that this resolution should not tell the CSD where itshould place its priorities. After a number of delegates made theirviews known, Razali proposed leaving the paragraph as originallywritten, since the intention of the resolution is to give priorityto this issue by establishing the World Day for Water. Everyoneagreed and the resolution was approved.


The final item on the Razali Group's agenda was consideration of ashort draft resolution entitled, "Capacity Building for Agenda 21".This resolution, which had only been circulated among delegationsfor several days, was proposed after reference to UNDP's "Capacity21" initiative was removed from the CSD resolution. The resolutionhas three operative paragraphs that (1) invite the UNDP GoverningCouncil to give due consideration to Agenda 21 recommendations oncapacity building and to the "Capacity 21" initiative, with theview to promoting early action in support of developing countriesin the area of capacity building; (2) invite all relevant UNagencies within their mandates to promote early action in supportof developing countries in the area of capacity building; and (3)request the CSD to give urgent consideration to the implementationof Agenda 21 on capacity building.

The Philippines did not think that an untested programme such asCapacity 21 should be endorsed in the same breath as Agenda 21.Mozambique, the primary sponsor of this resolution, responded thatthe resolution does not endorse Capacity 21, but invites the UNDPGoverning Council to look at this initiative. Benin commented thatthe resolution left out ideas that were important to hisdelegation, including paragraphs that clearly speak of thecountries that are in greatest need of capacity building -- theleast developed countries (LDCs). The UK commented that this was abalanced text and expressed fear that if they started addingamendments this could turn into a lengthy negotiation. Beninresponded that they would stay until midnight, if necessary. Themeeting then adjourned for an hour while delegates redrafted theparagraphs to take into account the concerns of the LDCs.

When the meeting reconvened, the new text was read out. Paragraphs1 and 2 were redrafted to include the phrase "in particular theleast developed countries". Some delegates still had problems withthe particularization of LDCs. The UK proposed a new formulationfor paragraph 2, which read "Further invites all relevant UNagencies within their mandates to promote early action to implementChapter 37 of Agenda 21;". This reformulation would take intoaccount the needs of the LDCs, as referred to in Agenda 21, withoutparticularizing them in the resolution. Everyone accepted thislanguage. After a brief exchange between Tunisia and the Chairabout the budgetary implications of this resolution, Razali quicklygaveled the discussion to a close.



There will be a number of changes at UN Headquarters in theeconomic and social sectors in the coming months. On 4 December1992, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali announced that he hasestablished three new departments aimed at enhancing theeffectiveneess of the UN in the economic and social sectors.Boutros-Ghail appointed Nitin Desai of India to head the Departmentof Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development. Desai mostrecently served as UNCED Deputy Secretary-General. The centralfocus of this department will be the provision of support forcentral coordinating and policy-making functions vested in ECOSOCand its subsidiary bodies, including the Commission on SustainableDevelopment.

Ghali also appointed Ji Chaozhu of China to head the Department ofDevelopment Support and Management Services and Jean-ClaudeMilleron of France to head the Department of Economic and SocialInformation and Policy Analysis. These three appointments are atthe Under-Secretary General level. Further details of the newdepartments are contained in the Secretary-General's note to theGeneral Assembly (A/47/753).

In other news, the Secretary-General appointed Gertrude Mongella ofthe United Republic of Tanzania as Secretary-General of the fourthWorld Conference on Women to be held in Beijing in 1995. Mongellacurrently serves as her country's High Commissioner to India andwas previously Minister of State responsible for Women's Affairs.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell of Canada will be the new Executive Directorof the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She has beenserving as Assistant Deputy Minister at Environment Canada and headof Canada's Atmospheric Environment Service. She will succeedMostafa Tolba, who is retiring this year.



  • Organizational session for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Convention to Combat Desertification; New York; 26-29 January.
  • ECOSOC Organizational Session; New York; 2-5 February.
  • Organizational Session for the Commission on Sustainable Development; New York; possibly week of 22 February.


  • Organizational session for Preparatory Committee of the Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; New York; March or April.
  • Organizational session for the Conference on Straddling and Highly-Migratory Fish Stocks; New York; April.
  • First substantive session of the INC for a Convention to Combat Desertification; Nairobi; 29 March - 8 April.


  • Conference on Straddling and Highly-Migratory Fish Stocks; New York; July.
  • Substantive Session of ECOSOC; Geneva; July.
  • First Preparatory Committee Meeting for the Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; New York; August.
  • First Preparatory Committee Meeting for the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development; location to be determined; August.
  • First substantive session of the CSD; New York; August.
  • Second substantive session of the INC for a Convention to Combat Desertification; Geneva; 13-24 September.