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One of the major problems faced by the WSSD preparatory process was the difficulty in defining the Summit"s main issues. Despite General Assembly Resolution 47/92, which set out the objectives and the core issues to be addressed by the Summit, delegates arrived at PrepCom I in February 1994, ill-prepared for substantive discussions. While there was agreement that poverty, unemployment and social exclusion were of central importance, there was no consensus as to how they should be addressed within the overall context of the Summit. As a result, the Secretariat was given little guidance for the preparation of the draft Programme of Action and Declaration for PrepCom II.

PrepCom II, which was held in August 1994, should have marked the commencement of substantive discussions on the two texts, however, instead there was widespread dissatisfaction with the draft documents. In response, delegates generated 250 pages of amendments, ideas and definitions in their attempts to operationalize the core issues in the Programme of Action. While PrepCom II succeeded in generating a draft Declaration that could serve as the basis for future negotiations, governments were unable to produce anything that resembled a negotiating text for the Programme of Action. Delegates did manage to reach agreement on the structure of the Programme of Action during the intersessional informal consultations in October 1994. However, since it was not a negotiating session, delegates could only table general comments on the substance of the draft Programme of Action.

Given this checkered history, the level of frustration experienced during most of PrepCom III was to be expected. This was the first opportunity for delegates to identify the central issues and actually commence negotiations on the details of the draft texts. Yet, many felt that two weeks was insufficient time for the dialogue and negotiations that were necessary to fully understand the complexity of the issues and produce comprehensive, forward-looking texts for Copenhagen. As a result, there are many who are dissatisfied with the substance of the final texts that were adopted by the PrepCom on 28 January 1995.

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