25 April 1997
OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL OF THE
IMPLEMENTATION OF AGENDA 21
Letter dated 23 April 1997 from the representatives of the
Netherlands and Paraguay to the United Nations addressed
to the Secretary-General
We have the honour to bring to your attention the Noordwijk
Declaration of the VIIth Institutionalized Ministerial Meeting Rio
Group-European Union of 7 and 8 April 1997 (see annex).**
Among other things, the declaration underlines the need to promote
sustainable development by consolidating both the needs of economic
growth and the preservation of the environment.
As President of the Council of the European Union in New York and
as Rio Group Coordinator in New York, respectively, we kindly request
that the Noordwijk Declaration and the present letter be distributed
as official United Nations documents in the context of the fifth
session of the Commission on Sustainable Development and the
nineteenth special session of the General Assembly for the purpose of
an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of Agenda 21.
(Signed)Nicolaas H. BIEGMAN (Signed) Ramon A. DI'AZ-PEREIRA
Permanent Representative of the Charge' d'affaires a.i.
Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Mission of Paraguay to the
United Nations United Nations
** The document is being circulated in the languages of submission only.
[Original English and Spanish]
Vllth INSTITUTIONALIZED MINISTERIAL MEETING
RI0 GROUP - EUROPEAN UNION
7 and 8 April 1997
1. The Vllth ministerial meeting of the Rio Group and the European Union,
institutionalized in the Rome Declaration of 20 December 1990, was held in the
city of Noordwijk on 7 and 8 April 1997, in accordance with the Declaration of
the VIth ministerial meeting held in Cochabamba on 15 and 16 April 1996.
2. Ministers emphasized the considerable progress within the framework of the
political dialogue between the two regions, as initiated by the Rome
Declaration and consolidated by the ministerial meetings in Luxemhourg,
Santiago de Chile, Copenhagen, Sao Paulo, Paris and Cochabamba.
3. Ministers acknowledged the importance of the two regions' historical,
cultural, political and economic relations and the shared values and ideals of
respect for human rights and the rule of law which underpin the
institutionalized political dialogue and direct the cooperation between both
4. They reaffirmed their governments' commitment to the validity of
representative democracy, political pluralism and full association of civil
society in the political decision-making process and their firm determination
to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
They reiterated their governments' commitment to good governance, to
consolidate and strengthen public institutions as effective instruments of the
rule of law and, in this context, they agreed to strengthen their cooperation.
In this context, they underlined the need to promote education for
democracy thereby encouraging the development of a political culture
which can help to strengthen the democratic principles and values on
which our political systems are based. Ministers also reaffirmed their
satisfaction with existing cooperation between the two regions
in this field and expressed their willingness to step up cooperation
and exchange of existing experience in this area as a fundamental
contribution to the full consolidation and elaboration of democracy.
5. Ministers expressed their satisfaction at the dialogue recently
established on confidence and security building measures between the Rio Group
and the European Union. They stated that the seminars held in Punta del Este
in 1995 and in Quito in November 1996 had served to intensify the exchange of
views and further strengthen relations in this area.
Ministers agreed to continue to exchange information and experience in
order to consolidate a climate of confidence which would make it possible to
reduce the risks of conflicts and reinforce peace and security, respecting
international law and treaties. They decided to hold a further seminar in
Bolivia in the second half of 1997, which would submit specific proposals for
cooperation in this field.
6. Ministers strongly condemned all acts of terrorism, in all its forms and
manifestations, as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomsoever
They underlined their joint commitment to fighting this scourge, which
undermines peaceful co-existence and impairs the rule of law. They urged all
States to ratify the relevant international conventions.
Ministers underlined the importance of United Nations General Assembly
Resolution 51/21O and they stressed the need further to strengthen their
cooperation, as well as with other States, in order to prevent combat and
eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
7. Ministers furthermore repeated their condemnation of all forms of racism
and xenophobia, which constitute an assault on the dignity and the fundamental
rights of the human being.
8. Ministers welcomed the signing of a Firm and Lasting Peace Accord in
Guatemala on 29 December 1996 between the Government of Guatemala and the URNG
guerrillas. They invited both parties to observe the substance of the
commitments made in the Agreements signed. They expressed satisfaction at the
results achieved at the meeting of the Consultative Group for Guatemala held
in Brussels in January 1997.
9. Ministers emphasize the importance of the interparliementary political
dialogue between both regions and advocated intensifying it.
10. The European Union and the Rio Group have common views on many
global issues. Recalling their agreement in Cochabamba to continue
to develop the dialogue within the framework of the United Nations,
Ministers agreed to explore at all levels the scope for bringing
closer together the positions of the two regions and the possibilities
for cooperation on matters of mutual interest in international fora.
Ministers agreed to meet in New York on the occasion of the 52nd
United Nations General Assembly.
11. Ministers noted the progress achieved in the economic integration
process and political cooperation, both in Latin America and the
Caribbean, as well as in Europe. This process should create a climate
conducive to economic development and further rapprochement within
12. Ministers welcomed the progress made between Latin America and the
EU, in particular through the prompt implementation of the new
agreements with Mercosur and Chile as well as the work in progress
towards a new agreement with Mexico, the institutionalization of the
political dialogue between the EU and the Andean Community and the
positive outcome of the San Jose, XIIIth Ministerial Conference
between the EU and Central America and of the IVth High Level
Economic and Commercial Meeting between the EU and the Rio Group.
13. Ministers reiterated their firm political will to continue to
promote institutionalization of these processes of subregional and
bilateral rapprochement and welcomed the implementation of the
instruments and mechanisms provided for therein.
14. The Ministers expressed their interest in the proposals for a
Summit of Heads of State and Government in order to strengthen
relations between the two regions.
15. Ministers emphasized the necessity of promoting sustainable
development which encompasses economic, social and technological as
well as environmental dimensions and reconciles the needs of economic
growth and preservation of the environment. In this regard, they
recalled their perception of sustainable development, as reflected in
the Cochabamba Declaration.
They stressed that sustainable development was a comprehensive
concept, implying human empowerment, the reduction of social
differences and poverty alleviation within a democratic framework.
They also expressed concern at the continuing deterioration of the global
environment, including worsening trends in environmental pollution
and the degradation of natural resources.
16. Recalling the results of the World Summit for Social Development in
Copenhagen, Ministers stressed that the fight against poverty and
social exclusion constitutes a basic objective of both regions. They
expressed support for measures and actions aimed at improving
conditions of Iess-favoured groups of society, including indigenous
communities. They also underlined in this context their willingness
to promote women's rights and equal participation in decision-making
processes in accordance with the agreements adopted at the Fourth
World Women's Conference in Beijing. In particular as regards the
areas of health, education, housing and employment, Ministers agreed
to encourage cooperation projects based on an integrated approach and
directed towards sustainable development.
17. They emphasized the private sector's important contribution to
the attainment of sustained economic growth and agreed on the
importance of creating incentives for economic activities compatible
with the strategy of sustainable development.
18. Reaffirming their support for the follow-up to the conclusions of
the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in
Rio de Janeiro in 1992, they expressed their confidence that the
Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly to be held in
June 1997 will be an opportunity to restate the political will in
favour of sustainable development and the fulfilment of the principles
and commitments of the Earth Summit and Agenda 21. They expressed
their satisfaction at the activities undertaken within the context of
the Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biodiversity,
the Convention on Combating Desertification and the Montreal Protocol
on Ozone Depleting Substances, as well as of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Forests. In this regard, they agreed also to collaborate
closely at the future Special Session of the United Nations General
Assembly and to secure follow-up of the commitments made.
19. Ministers also underlined the importance of implementing the
respective commitments made at the Conference on Population and
Development in Cairo, the World Food Summit in Rome in November 1996
and the Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul. They
pointed, moreover, to the substantial contributions by the Summit of
the Americas for Sustainable Development held in Santa Cruz de la
Sierra (Bolivia) in December 1996 and its action plan.
In this connection, they underlined the need for support and
cooperation at bilateral, multilateral, regional and subregional
levels to make it possible to implement action in the abovementioned
Ministers stressed that sustainable development should become a matter
of long-term importance in the dialogue between the EU and the Rio
Group. They agreed to strengthen their dialogue in this respect to
facilitate closer collaboration in the appropriate international fora.
In this context, they welcomed the fact that a seminar on this subject
was held in the Netherlands, in February 1997, under the Dutch
Presidency, organized by IRELA, Ministers agreed that this seminar
had been a good opportunity to exchange information and opinions and it
may be repeated in the future.
Economy, trade and cooperation
20. Ministers emphasized their commitment to apply the principles of
multilateralism in their trade relations; they expressed their resolve
to strengthen the WTO as the appropriate forum for resolving trade
In that connection, Ministers reiterated their firm rejection of any
unilateral measure, having extraterritorial effect contrary to
international law and to established free trade rules. They agreed that
such practices pose a great threat to multilateralism.
21. They expressed satisfaction at the positive cooperation established
between both regions at the first World Trade Organization (WTO)
Ministerial Meeting held in Singapore in December 1996 and restated
their willingness to implement all the commitments made during the
Uruguay Round and the urgent need of successfully completing the
In this connection, they agreed that there should be consideration of
the special and differential treatment in favour of developing
countries as already established in the WTO Agreement.
22. Ministers acknowledged the fact that both regions agreed on the
principles of open regionalism and multilateralism; they also
emphasized that regional integration should be supported when it is a
means of ensuring that developing countries are harmoniously and
progressively brought into the global economy and that lasting growth
23. As regards bi-regional trade relations, they noted with
satisfaction the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean has
emerged as one of the most dynamic markets for the European Union.
The European Union likewise continues to be one of the most
important markets for Latin America and the Caribbean. With regard to
the trade deficit which Latin America has had with the European
Union since 1993, they undertook to endeavour to analyze means by which
trade exchanges could be increased.
24. Ministers stressed the results of the IVth High Level Economic and
Commercial Meeting held in Brussels in November 1996, and confirmed
the importance of this special forum for continuous dialogue in
exchanging points of view on topics of interest to both regions.
Ministers accordingly agreed to convene the Vth High Level Economic
and Commercial Meeting to take place in the second half of 1997.
25. Ministers pointed to the role played by investment in their
mutual relations and repeated their undertaking to foster
initiatives aimed at increasing investments, including the signing of
bilateral double taxation agreements, as well as bilateral investment
promotion and protection agreements. In this connection, the Ministers
stressed the importance of the protection of intellectual property.
They expressed satisfaction at the growing importance of the Latin
American region as a magnet for direct foreign investment and pointed
to the mutual advantage of increased European participation in the
They also noted the growth in foreign investment in the Latin
American region, a trend which had been maintained in 1996, with the
European Union being one of the major investors in the region.
26. Ministers expressed their support for the work on investments
carried out by the World Trade Organization with the support of UNCTAD
and for the setting up of working groups on investments and
competition policy within the WTO.
27. Ministers welcomed the holding of the Seminar on the "Impact of
non-regulated capital movement in the relations between the European
Union and the Rio Group" held in Rome on 6 and 7 May 1996.
28. Ministers expressed their satisfaction at the projects carried out
in Latin America by the European Investment Bank in the first three
years, and at renewal of its mandate to continue its operations in
In this connection they expressed their interest in the EIB increasing
its activities in Latin America.
29. Ministers recognized the importance of the cooperation between
the European Union and the Rio Group. The European Union is the main
cooperation partner in Latin America and the Caribbean, and they agreed to
strengthen and step up this cooperation, taking into account
the special circumstances of each country and focusing on the needs
of the poorest populations, in particular, they emphasized horizontal
cooperation programmes, such as AL-INVEST, ECIP, AL-URE, URB-AL, as well as
the ALFA academic and scientific exchange programme. They likewise expressed
their confidence that the criteria for such cooperation would be accorded by
30. They again acknowledged the CEFIR programme in the field of
regional integration, expressed satisfaction that the project had been
prolonged for a further two years and stressed the relevance of
establishing the mechanisms permitting it to continue and expand its
31. They emphasized that cooperation in science and technology is an
important element in the dialogue between the two regions. In this
respect, they agreed to step up their participation in the forthcoming
Vth Framework Programme on Research and Development, taking into
account reciprocal interests to promote scientific cooperation of
excellence, favouring the insertion of the Latin American countries in
global economy and increasing the presence of European companies in
Latin America. They welcomed the dialogue between the two regions started at
the Madrid Conference in October 1996 and agreed that it should be continued,
taking into account the priorities of the Rio Group and guaranteeing improved
access to scientific and technical cooperation of excellence.
32. Ministers welcomed the progress achieved in Latin American and
Caribbean energy integration and promised to step up efforts to
enlarge energy cooperation between the European Union and the countries of the
Rio Group with a view to fostering free trade and intra-regional investment.
Cooperation in the fight against drugs
33. Ministers considered that the principles of co-responsibility and
international cooperation are essential in dealing effectively with
problems with global implications such as the fight against drugs,
organized crime and money-laundering. These problems require concerted
solutions involving multilateral engagements and commitments by all the
34. Within the framework of the principle of co-responsibility
accepted by both regions, Ministers underlined the importance of
continuing to intensify the high level dialogue on drugs, including
the specialized dialogue between the EU and the Andean Community, and
their willingness to step up cooperation in this field, including by
implementing the agreements already signed on chemical precursors.
They took note with satisfaction of the conclusions of the Dublin
European Council of 1996.
35. They welcomed the extraordinary Session of the General Assembly of
the United Nations, to be held during 1998 with the objective of
discussing the problem of illegal drugs; they stressed their
commitment to work for a successful outcome to this meeting, with a
view to reiterating the will of the international community, as set
out in UN Resolution 51/64 to fight drugs including by implementing
the existing global strategy, the UN global plan of action.
36. In order to intensify this cooperation, ministers agreed on the
holding of a meeting of experts during 1997 within the framework of
the EU-Rio Group dialogue.
37. Ministers expressed their gratitude to the people and the
Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for their hospitality
and for the organization which had made a success of the VIIth
Institutionalized Ministerial Meeting between the Rio Group and the
38. Ministers thanked the Government of Panama for its offer to host
the VIIIth Institutionalized Ministerial Meeting between the Rio Group
and the European Union on 12-13 February 1998.
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Date last posted: 15 January 2000 16:15:30
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