Daily report for 11 June 1992



"PrepCom V" ended at 6:00 am yesterday morning when Main CommitteeChair Tommy Koh brought down the final gavel, deferring remainingnegotiations to the hands of the politicians. Two and a half yearsof work by the diplomats had come to an end. After a marathonnegotiating session that began at 8:00 pm and ended at dawn, thegovernments sent to the Plenary three documents: Agenda 21, theStatement on Forest Principles and the Rio Declaration. While mostof the text is "clean", brackets remain around several criticalpoints that have been sent to the ministerial level to benegotiated over the next two days.

The Main Committee resumed at 8:00 pm Wednesday night, to continueto work sequentially through Agenda 21, beginning where it had leftoff two hours earlier. As Chapter 19, toxic chemicals, was a cleantext, with the exception of the paragraphs on finance, discussionquickly turned to Chapter 20 on hazardous wastes. The one difficultparagraph was 20.23(h) on the military establishment and hazardouswastes. Sweden had undertaken consultations at the request of theChair and announced the resulting text to the Committee. Thecompromise was that governments should ascertain that theirmilitary establishment conform to nationally applicableenvironmental norms in the treatment and disposal of hazardouswaste.

Chapter 21 on solid wastes was a clean text (except for the financesection) so Koh turned to Chapter 22 on radioactive wastes. Theproblematic paragraph in this chapter, 22.5(c), dealt with thestorage or disposal of radioactive wastes near the marineenvironment. After a brief discussion, the text was adopted. Thecompromise text emphasizes that states, in cooperation withrelevant international organizations, will determine the risk ofthe disposal or storage of radioactive wastes near the marineenvironment.

Chapters 23-32 of Agenda 21 address the role of major groups.During earlier discussions in the Main Committee, it had beendecided that Amb. Mazairac of the Netherlands would hold additionalconsultations on the remaining bracketed text in these chapters.Chapters 23 (preamble), 24 (women), 25 (children and youth), 28(local authorities) and 29 (workers and trade unions) were cleantexts and not discussed. Compromise text was agreed to in theremaining bracketed paragraphs in Chapters 26 (indigenous people),27 (NGOs), 30 (business and industry), and 32 (farmers) and wasquickly adopted by the Committee. It was Chapter 31 on thescientific and technological community, however, where problemsarose. The Holy See questioned why the phrase "appropriate ethicalprinciples" had been removed from the text of paragraph 31.12 oncapacity building. Mazairac responded that the delegates who hadconsulted on this matter thought that the text should be moregeneral as there are important principles other than ethical onesto be considered. The Holy See requested that the text be restored,while calling for the opinions of other delegates. Koh respondedthat the time was now 9:08 pm and it was unreasonable for onecolleague to ask others to speak, as there was still much work tobe done. After comments by Argentina, Koh prevailed upon theCommittee to adopt the text, with due note of the Holy See'sconcerns.

Chapter 33, the financial resources chapter of Agenda 21, wastransmitted to the Main Committee with bracketed text in threeareas: on language that sets a specific date for countries tore-affirm their commitment to increasing levels of ODA to 0.7% ofGNP; the exact level for the next replenishment of IDA with orwithout an "Earth Increment", and; conditionality within GEF. Therewas no resolution to these problems and brackets here, and in twoother areas, remain in the text sent to the ministerial level forfurther negotiation.

Two new sets of brackets surround the word "including" in paragraph10 that had been omitted from yesterday morning's earliest draft ofthe text. The insertion of the word "including" in a key phrasethat stipulates the types of resources necessary for theimplementation of Agenda 21, modified the phrase so that it reads,"will require the provision to developing countries of substantialnew and additional financial resources, including on grantor concessional terms and according to sound and equitable criteriaand indicators." In the Main Committee, debate ensued over thesignificance of the term. Countries, including India and Tanzania,argued that the word "including" changes the meaning of the phraseto mean that new and additional financial resources will not betotally grant and concessional money. The US argued that much newand additional funding will be neither grant nor concessional fundsbut could take the form of private investment or official debtalleviation. The phrase was sent to the Plenary in two sets ofbrackets.

The Main Committee then turned to the 100-plus "financial"paragraphs scattered throughout Agenda 21 in the "Means ofImplementation" section of each chapter. These paragraphs have beenuniformly modified to reflect the fact that costs associated withthe chapter activities are order of magnitude estimates only andthe actual value depends on the strategies and programmesimplemented. These paragraphs were adopted with minor amendments.

Chapter 34 on technology transfer and a list of paragraphs from theother chapters of Agenda 21 that address technology were easilyadopted by the Committee. The only bracketed text remaining is inthe phrase "environmentally [safe and] sound technology". Thisphrase was supposed to be resolved in the contact group onatmosphere, as the bracketed text was first introduced in theatmosphere chapter of Agenda 21.

Chapters 35 (science for sustainable development), 36 (education)and 37 (capacity building) were clean texts, so Koh openeddiscussion on Chapter 38 on international institutionalarrangements. A spokesperson for Amb. Ismail Razali of Malaysia,who coordinated the contact group, reported on the outcome of thegroup's work and, after a brief discussion, the chapter was easilyadopted. The US was pleased with the agreement reached on thischapter and stressed that funds should be reallocated to supportUNCED follow-up. Canada welcomed the establishment of theSustainable Development Commission that will be needed to overseeAgenda 21 implementation.

Chapter 39 on international legal instruments and measures was alsodealt with quickly. After the coordinator, Nabil el-Arabi, reportedon the consensus achieved and stressed the delicate balanceachieved, the text was quickly adopted. Chapter 40, information fordecision making, is the last chapter of Agenda 21 and, as it was aclean text, no discussion was necessary.

At this point Koh returned to the Agenda 21 chapters that werestill outstanding. The first of these was Chapter 9 on atmosphere.Amb. Bo Kjell‚n of Sweden introduced the text and explained thatalthough the document was almost bracket-free, several delegationsstill had trouble with certain paragraphs and, thus, the wholedocument should remain in brackets. The list of remainingcontentious paragraphs address such issues as new and renewableenergy resources; improving energy efficiency; environmentally safeand sound energy sources; and the need for regional conferences ontransport and the environment. Saudi Arabia then took the floor anddelivered a lengthy speech setting out its concerns regarding thischapter. Despite the Saudis' insistence that its opposition wasbased on its concern with repetition in the text, many delegationscalled into question the Saudis' true motives. Only a fewcountries, such as Kuwait and Nigeria, delivered statements largelysupportive of Saudi Arabia's position. However, the vast majorityof speakers on the interminable list supported retaining the textfor several reasons: it represented a fair and balanced compromise;repetition of key concepts such new and renewable sources of energyand safe and environmentally sound energy sources was notproblematic, but rather desirable, in light of the supremeimportance of these concepts; the text was supported by a largemajority of states; consensus should not be interpreted asrequiring unanimity; and the fact that the deletion of the entirechapter would seriously undermine not only the fate of Agenda 21,but the entire Conference. The Main Committee did manage to adoptthe text, subject to the reservations maintained by the Saudis.

The Main Committee finally began discussion of both Chapter 11 ondeforestation and the Statement of Forest Principles at 3:00 am.Numerous paragraphs related to the following areas were allreferred to the Plenary in brackets: preamble paragraphs (a), (d)and (g) about the "right to develop", a possible future legalinstrument and the role of forests; paragraphs 8(d) and (h),regarding sustainable forest management and environmental impactassessments; paragraph 11 on financial resources for sustainableforest management; paragraphs 15(b) and 17 that deal withinternational trade in forest products and the role of forests inthe carbon cycle. Organizational problems in the reporting of thecontact group slowed progress. The Russian Federation insisted, onthe behalf of the Eastern European group, that language referringto countries that are undergoing transition to market economies beretained, since this document is not part of Agenda 21 and,therefore, not covered by the generic paragraph in the Preamble toAgenda 21. The Agenda 21 chapter on deforestation was dealt withnext. The Main Committee was unable to resolve the remaining threebracketed paragraphs. Both of these documents were transmitted tothe Plenary to be resolved at the ministerial level.

At 5:25 am, Koh began discussion of Chapter 16 on biotechnology.After Amb. Vincente Sanchez of Chile reviewed the contact group'sresolution of the formerly bracketed paragraphs in this chapter,Koh brought the discussion to a close and quickly assured theCommittee's approval with his now-standard quick gavel.

The last substantive item on the agenda was the Rio Declaration.This was the only unbracketed text transmitted from the PrepCom.Koh announced that as the result of successful consultations withinterested delegations, he was able to propose a package deal thatwould alleviate one of the problems associated with both the RioDeclaration and Agenda 21: reference to "people under occupation".This package consisted of three parts: adoption of the text of theRio Declaration as is; reformulating the third sentence ofparagraph 1.5 of the Preamble of Agenda 21 to read, "It will becarried out by the various actors according to the differentsituations, capacities and priorities of countries and regionsin full respect of all the principles contained in the RioDeclaration on Environment and Development"; and deleting thewords "people under occupation" and "various bodies andorganizations under occupation" from the text of Agenda 21. Thepackage deal and, thus, the Rio Declaration, were quickly adopted.

The US then took the floor and expressed that it still had problemswith the Declaration but, in the spirit of compromise, it waswilling to lay aside its concerns. The US also reserved the rightto come back to Principle 3, which addresses the right to develop,as this issue was still unresolved in the statement on forestprinciples. The Palestinian representative then spoke of hiscontinued concern with the importance of including people underoccupation in Agenda 21. He added that Agenda 21 is intended forthe 21st century and expressed hope that by 2000 there will nolonger be any occupied territories and everyone will live in peace.A number of other countries made short statements on this issue.Koh then addressed the last item of business: entrusting theRapporteur to complete the report of the Main Committee. As theclock struck 6:00 am, Tommy Koh gavelled the Main Committee to aclose amidst a prolonged standing ovation.


Celso Lafer as Vice President of the Conference has given theresponsibility for coordinating ministerial level consultations onthe forest issue to Klaus T”pfer, Federal Minister for theEnvironment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany.Consultations were held all day at the German delegation's officeand in the conference rooms at RioCentro. An open-endedministerial-level contact group was scheduled to begin at 10:00 pmlast night. Progress on several paragraphs was reported by thoseclose to the consultations.

Discussions at the highest ministerial level on financialresources, coordinated by Amb. Rubens Ricpero of Brazil andassisted by Celso Lafer and Brazilian Finance Minister MarclioMarques Moreira, were held Thursday.

As well, a ministerial contact group met to resolve the phrase"environmentally [safe and] sound", which is repeated throughoutthe Agenda 21 chapters on atmosphere and technology transfer andwas the subject of heated debate in the Main Committee earlyThursday morning. In fact, this issue is the only issue that theMain Committee was unable to resolve in both of these chapters. Asof 6:00 pm on Thursday, the ministerial contact group had not yetreached agreement. On Wednesday, Amb. Bo Kjell‚n, the Chair of thecontact group, attempted to resolve this issue in the atmospherechapter by drafting language to be inserted in the Preamble ofAgenda 21, which would refer to the fact that new and renewableenergy sources should always be safe and environmentally sound, aswell as cost-effective. It was hoped that this general statementwould obviate the need to refer to "environmentally safe and sound"energy sources throughout the text. It is possible that theMinisters' work will build upon Kjell‚n's proposal.


INSIDE THE SUMMIT: The first meeting of the Earth Summitofficially starts today with 28 Heads of State or Governmentscheduled to deliver formal statements in the Plenary in themorning and 29 Heads of State or Government scheduled for thesecond meeting, to be convened in the afternoon. The third andfourth meetings of the Summit will be convened on Saturday morningand afternoon, respectively. There is much speculation as to whatparallel process will be put in place to provide a forum for thecontinued ministerial-level negotiations surrounding those issueswhich the Main Committee was unable to resolve. Some suggest thatforest, finance and atmosphere ministerial contact groups may infact be convened in parallel to the actual Summit proceedings. Theresults of these ministerial contact groups will be tabled directlyto the final session of the Plenary, which will be held on Sundaymorning to formally adopt all of the Conference documents. It islikely that this final Plenary will provide little or no time forsubstantive discussion. All consultations are expected to becompleted by Friday evening to allow sufficient time fortranslation and photocopying before Sunday's Plenary.

OUTSIDE THE SUMMIT: Look for increasingly limited access forNGOs and press at RioCentro today and throughout the remainder ofthe Earth Summit. Members of the UNCED Secretariat have indicatedthat yesterday's youth demonstration may lead to stricter securitymeasures. This demonstration, which followed the youth statement inPlenary, resulted in the removal by UN Security of eight people,the revocation of many passes and a broken glass door. Thedemonstration had been called to draw attention to the resignationof a youth representative on the US Delegation. It was fueled bythe fact that the transmission of the youth statement to monitorsin RioCentro had been cut. The press, in their zeal to cover theunfolding story, only exacerbated matters according to several UNSecurity officers.


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