THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR AN OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OUTCOME OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS (HABITAT II)

INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT FOR THE PLENARY SESSION
BY
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS ACTING AS THE PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR THE TWENTY-FIFTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

H.E. MR GERMAN GARCIA-DURAN PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF COLOMBIA TO UNCHS (HABITAT)

06 JUNE 2001 NEW YORK



 Distinguished Excellencies, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great honour and pleasure to present to the twenty-fifth special session of the General Assembly the report of the Commission on Human Settlements acting as the preparatory committee for the special session of the General Assembly for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), contained in document A/S-25/2.

This special session provides us with the opportunity to review and assess the progress made in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and to identify further actions to guide governments and other relevant actors in their endeavor to turn promises into action. This is indeed a great historic responsibility we all share.

The Commission on Human Settlements acting as the Preparatory Committee for the special session has been working diligently to ensure that the session will in fact contribute towards moving the Habitat Agenda forward.
The Preparatory Committee started its activities in May 1999, pursuant to the relevant provisions of General Assembly resolution 53/180. An organizational session of the Preparatory Committee was held in May 1999 during the 17`h Commission Session. The present Bureau of the Preparatory Committee was elected with a term of office lasting the entire preparatory period.

At the country level, governments were encouraged to organize National Habitat Committees to coordinate the reporting process. I am pleased to report that 96 national reports received so far indicate that progress has been made towards most of the commitments but that more intensive action is needed in all areas.

The first session of the Preparatory Committee was held in Nairobi in May 2000 and considered:

. Scope of the special session of the UN General Assembly;
. Local, national and regional preparations for the special session;
. Role of local authorities, other partners and relevant UN organizations and agencies in the review an appraisal process;
. Preparation of a draft Declaration

At the end of this meeting, the Secretariat was inter-alia, requested to prepare a first draft of the "Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium".

At the regional level, UNCHS and the Regional Economic Commissions jointly organized five regional meetings between September to November 2000. Four of the regional meetings adopted declarations, while one regional meeting concluded with a forward-looking initiative.
 
 Inter-Agency Meetings on the Coordinated Implementation of the Habitat Agenda by the United Nations System were held in New York and Nairobi.

In order to consult Member States, the Secretariat organized an expert group meeting in November 2000 with a financial contribution from the Government of Sweden, and the support of the city of Vasteras, Sweden. All members States of the Commission on Human Settlements as well as international associations of local authorities and relevant non-governmental organizations were invited.

A Partners Meeting on the implementation of the Habitat Agenda was held in Nairobi in February 2001, prior to the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee, and about 300 new partners were accredited to the special session during PrepCom II.

The draft Declaration on Cities and other human Settlements in the New Millennium was considered at the second Session of
the Preparatory Committee. Most of the paragraphs were adopted by consensus with the exception of the paragraphs 8, 24, 33, 34, 37, 42 and 49, that are partly or fully in bracket. Therefore, we should continue with our deliberations in the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the session. Agreement on these issues will require genuine political will and responsible political decisions, in a spirit of partnership and cooperation, and I sincerely hope that all attending the session will play their collective part.

The second session of the Preparatory Committee also reviewed the draft report of the Executive Director on the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. The revised version of this report on the review and appraisal of progress made in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda (A/S-25/3 and A/S-25/3/Add. l) is before the Special Session. This very good report takes fully into account the comments made by delegations during PrepCom II and synthesizes the national reports received by the Centre. Thus, the report constitutes the main substantive document for the Special Session.

Intense discussions resulted in a decision from PrepCom II regarding establishing a Thematic Committee. This Committee represents an innovation in the United Nations and was subsequently approved by General Assembly resolution 55/246 of 24 March 2001.

The Preparatory Committee further adopted four decisions: Arrangements regarding accreditation of Habitat Agenda Partners to the special session; Further arrangements regarding accreditation of Habitat Agenda partners to the special session; Preparatory process for the Thematic Committee; and Recommendations of the Economic and Social Council.

The preparatory process, although difficult at times, was transparent and participatory, allowing for the full participation of all Member States and observers as well as representatives of the United Nations system, and partners from non-governmental organizations and civil society.

 In concluding, I would like to acknowledge with thanks the hard work and the contributions of my colleagues in the Bureau and by the UNCHS secretariat, who have been making many sacrifices in the course of the negotiation period. They have been making a true team effort and I am convinced they continue their excellent work at the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole.