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The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development: Securing the Outcomes of UNCED?

  • Arthur van Buitenen

Extract

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the intergovernmental body set up to review the implementation of Agenda 21, is in more than one way crucial for the future development of the United Nations system. The Commission is the first organisation within the United Nations system which institutionally links environment and development. In these policy areas, two integration processes can be distinguished. First, environment and development initiatives have to be taken into account in all other areas of policy and law-making, including such important fields as foreign policy and national and international security. Secondly, the interests of actors on the global stage, including states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, are becoming more and more interrelated and convergent.

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References

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1 There are many definitions of sustainable development. In his opening statement to the plenary, Secretary-General of UNCED, Maurice F. Strong defines sustainable development as “development that does not destroy or undermine the ecological, economic or social basis on which continued development depends”.

2. Agenda 21, para. 38.11.

3. GA Res. 47/191 (Jan. 29, 1993), Institutional Arrangements to Follow up the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

4. ECOSOC doc. E/1993/215 (Feb. 12, 1993), Procedural Arrangements for the Commission on Sustainable Development.

5. The suggestion was made during PrepComs III and IV that the UNCED follow-up would be taken up in the rearrangement of ECOSOC, in which a third sessional committee could cover sustainable development.

6. Within the United Nations, ‘Secretariat’ (with capital ‘S’) is mostly used to indicate the United Nations Secretariat as distinguished from the secretariats of the numerous United Nations institutions. In the UNCED negotiations, however, some delegations were determined to use the same notation for the CSD Secretariat to underline its importance.

7. DPCSD is one of the three new departments within the UN Secretariat established by Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in December 1992.

8. Under Secretary-General Nitin Desai, The Centre For Our Common Future, 28 Network, July 1993.

9. Agenda 21, para. 38.7.

10. GA Res. 47/191 para. 3 lists the functions given in paras. 33.13,33.23 and 38.13 of Agenda 21.

11. Id., para. 14.

12. In the course of the negotiations, it became clear that the national level can be understood to include the grassroots level, although the latter is not explicitly mentioned.

13. ECOSOC doc. E/CN. 17/1993/2 (Feb. 19, 1993), Outline of a multi-year thematic program of work for the Commission.

14. ECOSOC doc. E/1993/25/Add. 1, ch. I, paras. A. 2–3.

15. Id., para. 24.

16. 5 Earth Negotiations Bulletin, No. 12, at 3.

17. ECOSOC doc. E/1993/25/Add. 1, paras. 13–15, at 25.

18. Doc. CSD/1993/NGO/L.2 REV, introduction.

19. Agenda 21, paras. 38.16 and 38.17.

20. Agenda 21, para. 38.17.

21. GA Res. 47/191, paras. 18–19.

22. Id., paras. 21, 23,27 and 28.

23. ECOSOC doc. E/1993/25/Add. 1, ch. I, para. D.36.

24. Agenda 21, para. 38.11.

25. GARes. 47/191, para. 14(c).

26. Applicable are rules 1/1 of GA Res. 45/46, annex I and rule 2/1 of GA Res. 46/48, vol. I, annex I.

27. Article 71 of the Charter “The Economic and Social Council may make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organisations which are concerned with matsters within its competence. Such arrangements may be made with international organisations and, where appropriate, with national organisations after consultation with the Member of the United Nations concerned.”

28. ECOSOC Res. 1296 (May 23, 1968) Arrangements for Consultation with Non-governmental Organisations, is the basis for the United Nations consultative arrangements with NGOs.

29. Id., para. 14.

30. Id., para. 16.

31. ECOSOC doc. E/1993/215 (Feb. 12, 1993) Procedural Arrangements for the Commission on Sustainable Development.

32. Rule 75 of the rules of procedure of functional commissions, ECOSOC doc. E/5975/Rev. 1.

33. Rule 76 of the rules of procedure of functional commissions, ECOSOC doc. E/5975/Rev. 1.

34. See supra note 25 for the text of Article 71.

35. ECOSOC doc. E/1993/215, para. c.

36. Notification by the United Nations Secretariat, March 3, 1993.

37. GA Res. 47/191, para. 7(a).

38. The competences of the EC are, for example, recognised by United Nations Member States in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (1985).

39. GA Res. 47/191, para. 6.

* The author is legal project assistant with the Netherlands National Committee for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The views expressed in this article are the author's own.

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