Johannesburg 2002: Summit or Sabotage?

As U.S. Moves to Unravel Rio's Agenda, NGOs Say Best Result Might Be Not to Hold Summit at All

For Immediate Release

Michael Strauss

Tel: 212 355-2122, Email:

Coordinated by the International Media Advocacy Project

UNITED NATIONS (April 5, 2002) -- Leaders of international environment and development NGO coalitions today challenged governments' indecision in failing to protect the political accomplishments of the 1992 Earth Summit. And they attacked several Northern governments for attempting to undermine the carefully-structured consensus of Rio.

NGOs cited a serious lack of progress in the negotiations on all issues. With the current compilation text running over 100 pages, and the negotiations in varying stages of inertia or disarray, talk has increasingly focused on whether additional PrepCom sessions would be required. NGOs said that the inability of the PrepCom to hold evening negotiating sessions during most of the first week due to U.N. budget restrictions also seriously limited efforts to achieve a workable text. Even more critical, said NGOs, were attempts to strike references, from all parts of the text, to phrases that represented fundamental elements of Agenda 21. An effort to remove one such phrase -- 'common, but differentiated, responsibilities' -- was made repeatedly this week by the U.S.

Combined with its reneging on an earlier commitment to not interfere with other nations' ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, the United States' actions at the PrepCom have led some to wonder whether the U.S. wants there to be a Johannesburg Summit at all. The World Summit on Sustainable Development will take place 26 August - 4 September, in Johannesburg, South Africa. PrepCom 3 is scheduled to end today, Friday, 5 April. It will be followed by a concluding, ministerial-level PrepCom in Bali, Indonesia [27 May - 7 June].

Probable Speakers:

Mr. Remi Parmentier, Greenpeace International

Mr. Daniel Mittler, Friends of the Earth International

Ms. Saradha Ramaswamy Iyer, Third World Network

Ms. Nur Hidayati, Indonesian Peoples' Forum

Mr. Solomzi Madikane, South African Civil Society Secretariat


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