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SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND RESEARCH
UN ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM
UNEP Governing Council
Thę, third session of the 58-member Governing Counci1227 was held at UNEP's headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, April 17-May 2, 1975. Senator Helena Z. Benitez (Philippines) was elected President of the session.
The overall atmosphere of the session, which reviewed the progress made in the program during UNEP'S first 3 years, was one of accommodation and cooperation with an almost complete absence of politically contentious debate.
The general debate on the status of the program revealed continued endorsement of the coordinating and catalytic role of UNEP. A general feeling was manifested, however, that UNEP should concentrate its efforts and resources on a relatively small number of selected and urgent problems, since dividing UNEP'S resources among too many projects would reduce the overall impact of the program. This feeling was reflected in a consensus decision on May 2 that, in general, the resources of the Environment Fund:
'. .. should be concentrated in support of large projects, each such project covering to the extent possible a particular activity within a program framework for the medium-term; this should not, however, preclude support of small projects where the Executive Director considers these to be of a pre-programming or methodological character, or of particular significance, especially in support of small institutions in the developing countries."
Another theme emphasized in the same decision concerned the need for continuous evaluation of UNEP's projects
22/ Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Finland, France, Gabon, German Democratic Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malagasy Republic, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Turkey, U.S.S.R., United Kingdom United States, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, and Zaire.
during the implementation phase and, upon completion, of the results achieved and of the follow-up actions needed. This led the Council to request the Executive Director to prepare a methodology for the implementation of an evaluation procedure.
The United States urged that greater attention be given to the development of all aspects of the Earthwatch program, an objective which found its place in a decision that, inter alia, requested the Executive Director to give high priority to the consolidated development and improvement of Earthwatch, which consists of research, evaluation, monitoring, and information activities. The Council reaffirmed the priority action areas determined at its first session in 1973 and refined at its second session in 1974. It also authorized the establishment of a clearinghouse for technical assistance in cooperation with governments, UNDP, and the UN regional commissions; the establishment of a program activity center for the International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals; and the establishment of a limited number of demonstration centers for the development of techniques for harnessing energy from locally available renewable resources.
Many participants in the general debate emphasized the growing importance of UNEP assistance to the developing countries, particularly in the fields of environmental education and training. The United States, while endorsing technical assistance as one of the primary objectives of UNEP, nevertheless warned that an over-emphasis on development issues would undermine UNEP's urgent assignment to deal intelligently and effectively with global and regional environmental problems threatening mankind.
"Human settlements" remains one of the most important areas of UNEP activity, and the Council reiterated its support for Habitat, the UN Conference on Human Settlements, to take place in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976, by approving a further allocation of $1.5 million from the Environment Fund for the support of the audiovisual aspects of the Conference.
The Council approved the program and plan of action for the UN Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, which had been established as of January 1, 1975, by the 29th General Assembly on the recommendation of the Governing Council. The Council urged the Executive Director to take steps to bring the Foundation to a stage of active operations as soon as possible. The United States, while joining in this decision, urged continued efforts at rationalizing the human settlements activities undertaken by various bodies within the United Nations. The failure of the General Assembly, in the U.S. view, to deal realistically with this issue had led the United States to cast the only vote in 1974
against the establishment of the Foundation. The ultimate success of the Foundation, which was launched with a one-time grant from the Environment Fund of $4 million over 4 years, will depend on voluntary contributions, none of which were forthcoming in 1975, although several countries indicated that they were considering contributions. (See below, pp. 183 and 185 for more on Habitat and housing.)
In a further significant action, the Council responded to a request addressed to it by the 28th General Assembly with respect to measures for ensuring cooperation in the field of the environment concerning natural resources shared by two or more states. By a rollcall vote of 28 to 1 (Brazil), with 20 abstentions (U.S.), the Council decided to request the Executive Director to establish an intergovernmental group of experts to prepare draft principles of conduct for the guidance of states in the conservation and harmonious exploitation of natural resources shared by two or more states. This decision was initiated by Argentina and co sponsored by 14 other states. Debate followed lines that had been well developed in previous discussions of this issue in UNEP and in other UN bodies. The rollcall vote was requested by Brazil, which, in explaining its negative vote, stated that the environmental aspects of the question of shared natural resources could not be disassociated from its political and economic ones and therefore UNEP should not be the body solely charged with drafting principles on the subject. Brazil believed that the International Law Commission should be assigned this task, taking into account contributions by other bodies in the UN system, including UNEP. Following its practice in previous UN votes on this subject, the United States abstained in order not to take sides between the two principal protagonists, Argentina and Brazil, although the United States was not opposed to the decision on substantive grounds.
The Council adopted by consensus two U.S. initiatives relating to the priority area of oceans. first decided that the ocean-monitoring program should (1) include baseline stations, (2) assist in the expansion of the Integrated Global Ocean Station System to include other pollutants in addition to petroleum hydrocarbons (see also UNESCO, p. 246), and (3) support education and training efforts to enhance the participation of developing nations in ocean activities. The second requested the Executive Director to support research on marine mammal populations and, in particular, on whales and small cetaceans. The Council also adopted, by consensus, a decision urging the Law of the Sea Conference (see Part I) to attach the highest priority to adopting effective provisions for the protection of the marine environment.
In a decision relating to international efforts to combat desertification, the Committee approved the
preparations so far made by the Executive Director for a conference on desertificatinn scheduled for 1977 and authorized a commitment from the Environment Fund not to exceed $500,000 for conference preparations during 1975. In the closely related subject area of water resources, the Council without a vote requested the Executive Director to continue his cooperation in the preparations for the UN Water Conference to be held in Argentina in 1977. (See also p. 188.)
With regard to the Fund program, the Council approved activities at a level of $27.8 million in 1976 and $32.5 million in 1977. It requested the Executive Director to review with governments their voluntary contributions for the years 1977-79, a period during which the Governing Council will face decisions regarding the level of the program for years extending beyond the initial 5-year period.
As the result of new pledges announced during the Governing Council session, total pledges to the Environment Fund rose to approximately $110 million, surpassing the target of $100 million set for the 5 years, 1973-77. Contributions actually paid into the Fund totalled slightly over $41 million by the end of 1975. This included contributions of $12.5 million from the United States over the past 3 years.
: General Assembly
The Second Committee of the 30th General Assembly considered UNEP at 10 meetings between October 20 and November 28; 60 states took part in the debate, which was marked by almost unanimous agreement on the importance of UNEP and the activities that it was undertaking. As at the Governing Council session, there was a strong emphasis throughout the debate that UNEP should concentrate its activities in a few priority areas, although the compendium of priorities identified during this discussion covered a wide and diverse range of activities. Six resolutions relating to environment were approved, five during the Committee's consideration of UNEP and one during its consideration of the report of ECOSOC.
In the first resolution, which had been recommended by the UNEP Governing Council on May 2, the Assembly invited all states, organizations in the UN system, and appropriate nongovernmental organizations to mobilize public opinion in support of the UN Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation. The resolution was adopted without vote by the Committee on November 7 and by the plenary Assembly on December 9.
Libya introduced a resolution, ultimately sponsored by six African and Asian states, dealing with the problem of land mines left from military action in
North Africa during World War II. The resolution condemned the "colonial powers" which had neglected to remove "those material remnants" of wars, considered them responsible for any damage suffered by the countries in which such mines were placed, called for action to remove such "material remnants" and for compensation to the countries in which they were placed, and requested the Governing Council of UNEP to undertake a study of the problem. The resolution was approved by a vote of 70 to 0, with 22 abstentions (U.S.), in the Second Committee on November 24 and adopted by the Assembly on December 9 by a vote of 100 to 0, with 21 abstentions (U.S.). The United States abstained because in its view the resolution contained incorrect statements with respect to international law and unacceptable implications. The United States further questioned the relevance of this subject to UNEP's responsibilities.
Sweden introduced a draft resolution, sponsored by 13 states, that urged further action to increase the acceptance of a number of global and regional conventions and protocols in the field of environment that have been negotiated since the 1972 Stockholm Conference. The resolution was widely supported and adopted without vote by the Committee on November 24 and the full Assembly on December 9.
Kenya introduced a resolution, ultimately sponsored by 23 states, that endorsed the report of the Governing Council and was noncontroversial, except for reference to the applicability of the "new international economic order" and the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States. As a result of informal negotiations, these references were finally rendered in language that permitted the adoption of the resolution without a vote either in the Committee on November 25 or the plenary Assembly on December 9. On November 25, however, the United States reaffirmed in the Second Committee that its position with regard to NIEO and CERDS remained unchanged.
On November 20 Upper Volta introduced a resolution sponsored by 28 states that inter alia requested UNEP to provide the financial and technical assistance necessary to insure the satisfactory preparation for the UN Conference on Desertification to be held in 1977, and requested the UNEP Governing Council to act as the preparatory body for the conference. The United States warmly endorsed this resolution, which was approved without a vote the same day and adopted by the Assembly on December 15.
(The last resolution, relating to preparations for the Habitat Conference, is discussed in the next section.)
Finally, on December 9 the General Assembly approved without objection the Secretary General's nomination of