GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECIDES TO INVITE NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS TO PARTICIPATE IN SPECIAL SESSION ON AGENDA 21 REVIEW

18 April 1997
GA/9234

GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECIDES TO INVITE NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS TO PARTICIPATE IN SPECIAL SESSION ON AGENDA 21 REVIEW

18 April 1997

Press ReleaseGA/9234

GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECIDES TO INVITE NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS TO PARTICIPATE IN SPECIAL SESSION ON AGENDA 21 REVIEW

19970418 Also Appoints Members to Budget Advisory Committee, Internatioal Civil Service Commission

The General Assembly this morning decided that major groups, as identified in Agenda 21 and represented by non-governmental organizations with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and on the Council's roster, would be invited to participate in the plenary meeting of the Assembly's nineteenth special session.

Adopted without a vote, the decision, submitted by Assembly President Razali Ismail (Malaysia) and orally revised, allows the major groups to participate in the debate on an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of Agenda 21 -- the programme of action adopted by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The special session to review Agenda 21 will be held from 23 to 27 June.

By other provisions of the decision, the Assembly decided that representatives of such major groups that could not be accommodated in the debate in the plenary meeting of the nineteenth special session might be invited to address the session's ad hoc committee of the whole.

Also by the text, the Assembly President was invited to extend invitations to representatives of such major groups to participate in the special session. In addition, the Assembly decided that arrangements concerning the participation of representatives of such major groups would in no way create a precedent for other special sessions.

During the meeting, the President announced criteria by which he would select the representatives of the major groups that would participate in the special session. Those criteria include: non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, including those on the Council's roster, particularly those with a demonstrated commitment to and involvement in the implementation of Agenda 21; equitable geographical distribution; gender balance; and the representatives must be at the highest level.

General Assembly Plenary - 2 - Press Release GA/9234 96th Meeting (AM) 18 April 1997

Amendments to the original text of the draft decision (document A/51/L.70) were proposed by the representatives of the United States, Cuba, Russian Federation and Ukraine.

The representative of the United States proposed amendments to the four operative paragraphs of the draft decision in order to clarify the term "major group". The representative of Cuba proposed an amendment to the first operative paragraph, also to clarify the concept of major group.

The first operative paragraph, as orally amended and adopted by the Assembly, reads as follows: "Decides that major groups as identified in Agenda 21 and represented by non-governmental organizations with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and on the roster, will be invited to participate in the plenary meeting of the nineteenth special session of the General Assembly in the debate on an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of Agenda 21." References to major groups in the remaining three operative paragraphs were amended to refer to "representatives of such major groups".

(Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 on the consultative relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, establishes the principles and rules for such a relationship. The references to the consultative status note that organizations in general consultative and special status may designate authorized representatives to sit as observers at public meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies. Those on the roster may have representatives present at such meetings concerned with matters within their field of competence.)

The proposed amendment of the representative of the Russian Federation would have deleted the word "special" before the phrase "sessions of the Assembly" in the last operative paragraph. In that regard, he stressed that measures regarding the form of participation in the nineteenth special session should not set a precedent for the future General Assembly sessions. Following a short suspension for consultations, the representative withdrew the proposed amendment in order to preserve consensus. The proposed amendment by Ukraine, to add a reference to the Main Committees of the Assembly in the last operative paragraph was not acted on by the Assembly.

Comments on the amendments were made by the representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, and the representative of Japan.

Also this morning, the Assembly appointed Klaus Stein (Germany), a Vice-Chairman of the Fifth Committee, to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) to complete the term of Wolfgang Stockl, who resigned from the Committee. Mr. Stein's term of office will begin today and expire on 31 December 1998.

General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9234 96th Meeting (AM) 18 April 1997

The 16-member Advisory Committee advises the Assembly on all financial and administrative matters related to the United Nations system. It examines and reports on regular and peace-keeping budgets, United Nations accounts and the administrative financial matters of the specialized agencies.

In another action, Mr. Stockl (Germany) was appointed to the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) to complete the term of office of Andre Xavier Pirson (Belgium), who resigned from the Commission. Mr. Stockl's term of office will begin today and expire on 31 December 1998.

Comprising 15 independent experts appointed in their individual capacity, the ICSC is responsible for making recommendations to the Assembly for the regulation and coordination of conditions of service within the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other international organizations that participate in the United Nations common system and accept the Commission's statute. It also has certain decision-making functions on salaries, allowances and job classification standards.

The details of the resignations and the nominations to the two bodies are contained in two notes by the Secretary-General on appointments of members of the ACABQ and ICSC, in documents A/51/101/Add.2 and A/51/106/Add.1, respectively.

In other action, the Assembly took note of the nomination by the Assembly President of Antigua and Barbuda, as a member of the Special Committee on the situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (Special Committee on Decolonization). That action followed a letter from the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the President of the Assembly (document A/51/843) which expressed the wish of that Government to join the membership of the Committee.

The Special Committee on Decolonization was established by resolution 1654 (XVI) of 1961 to examine the application of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and to make suggestions and recommendations on its implementation.

Under another agenda item, the Assembly President announced that Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan had made the necessary payments to reduce their arrears to amounts that would allow them the right to vote in the General Assembly. Under Article 19 of the Charter, a Member State whose arrears of contributions to the Organization equal or exceed the amount of contributions due from it for the preceding two years has no vote in the General Assembly.

At the outset of today's meeting, the President extended sympathy on the Assembly's behalf to the bereaved families of more than 300 Muslim pilgrims who perished in a fire in a tent city near Mecca on Tuesday 15 April.

The Assembly will meet again at a date to be announced.

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For information media. Not an official record.