by H. E. Mr. Gennady Novitsky
Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus

in the general debate at the 25th UN GA Special Session
for an Overall Review and Appraisal of the Implementation
of the Outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements

New York,
6 June 2001

Mr. President,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 1996 the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements synthesized the international community on the problems of cities.

In our view, during the current Special Session it is critical to comprehensively review the progress in implementation of the recommendations of that Conference. This would be of a particular significance with regard to the preparations for and organization of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September of 2002.

Mr. President,

Our delegation is entirely supportive of the provisions of the report of the Executive Director of the UN Center on Human Settlements and recommendations contained therein as to the importance of involvement of all relevant participants in the process of achieving the goals of sustainable development.

In this regard it is critical, from our perspective, to prioritize the development of appropriate national legislation.

At the current stage the Republic of Belarus is in the process of laying grounds for socially oriented market economy.

Possessing significant industrial, agricultural and human potential Belarus is capable of playing an increasingly important role in the realization of objectives facing the European and international community in the area of sustainable development.

Since 1992 Belarus has been reforming its housing system which has as its main objective securing the constitutional right of citizens to acquire, build, reconstruct or lease housing facilities.

In 1996 a special National Commission was established to address the issues relating to the nationwide development of human settlements, through, inter alia, taking into account the recommendations of the UN Center on Human Settlements.

Based on the relations of partnership between central, regional and local authorities the Commission has been working to strengthen economic viability of cities, provide housing to those in need, improve vital communications and protect the environment.

In 1999 the Commission developed the fundamental document in the area of urban planning - the National Plan for Complex Territorial Organization of the Republic of Belarus approved by the Government.
In Belarus we have defined a strategy envisaging the transition to the construction of houses of a new generation. This strategy is focused on increasing the consumer quality of housing facilities. We have been applying new constructive systems and effective construction materials.

The quality of housing provided to people has substantially increased.

A new promising target for our country is in the comprehensive reconstruction of residential areas through increasing their density. We are, thereby, enhancing socially oriented housing facilities and high quality apartments.

Summing up the work done by the Commission so far it can be said that it has been providing an effective framework for cooperation between authorities of all levels, research agencies, non-governmental organizations helpful in creating conditions for sustainable development of human settlements and territories in the country.

A tremendous problem for our country is the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986. The territory of the Republic of Belarus received nearly 70% of all the radioactive fall out. The Government had to seal off 485 human settlements and resettle 135.000 people. 65 000 apartments and houses were built to accommodate those people.

The total damage inflicted upon the country is estimated at USD 235 billions - the amount equal to more that 30 national annual budgets as of 1985.

It is, therefore, quite obvious that the enormity of radioactive load born by Belarus is incommensurate to the financial capacities of our country.

In this regard, Mr. President, the Republic of Belarus is hopeful of expanding relevant cooperation with appropriate of organs of the UN system in minimizing the consequences of this most sinister catastrophe of the 20th century.

Mr. President,

Allow me also to briefly elaborate on the most important national measures undertaken by Belarus to prepare for the Special Session of the UN General Assembly.

Firstly, the National Commission was designated to act as the Preparatory Committee.

Secondly, there was an extensive examination of the UNCHS recommendations in the area of collecting and analyzing of data on the development of human settlements over the recent five years with the view to prepare national reporting.

Thirdly, an interagency national report was prepared reflecting the situation, problems and trends pertaining to the development of human settlements in the country.

We hope that the information, data and analysis on our country contained therein will form a part of a Global report to add to an overall perspective of urbanization processes worldwide.

To conclude, allow me to commend the contribution of the United Nations, and particularly, the UN Commission on Human Settlements to the process of attaining the objectives of sustainable development of cities.

I would also like to pay a special tribute to the activities of the Secretariat of the UN Office in Nairobi in preparations for the current Special Session.

Similarly, we are addressing the words of appreciation to the Habitat experts. They helped us a great deal in the developments and implementation of a number of specific projects and programs in our country.

Allow me also to express out hope that the Declaration on Cities and other Human Settlements due to be adopted by the Special Session will further serve the purpose of attaining the goals of sustainable development of human settlements.

From our perspective, it is critical to enhance in a consistent and balanced manner the international cooperation within the framework of this important document taking into account specific circumstances of states that are at different stages of their social and economic development.

Having entered into the third millennium, we cherish the hope that the potential that has been gained so far and our common experience will give a renewed impetus to the advancement of human civilization.

Thank you for your attention.

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