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Impacts of apartheid on the environment (decision 12/6)

53. At the 15th meeting of the session, on 28 May, the Council had before it a draft decision on this subject submitted by the Group of 77 (UNEP/GC.12/L.10/Rev.1). The draft decision was introduced on behalf of the Group by the representative of Mexico, who said that, since it was the fruit of an exceptional effort to achieve consensus, and since it differed only in minor details from the decision oh the same subject adopted by the Council at its eleventh session, he hoped it could be adopted without objection. The draft decision was then adopted by consensus.

54. The representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, speaking also on behalf of the representatives of Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America, said that if the draft decision had been put to the vote, those representatives would have been unable to support the second preambular paragraph, or, as far as most of them were concerned, paragraph 6. She expressed concern that in certain respects the decision dealt with issues which properly fell within the purview of political bodies rather than UNEP. However, those representatives had been prepared to join in the consensus on the decision, more especially as they all shared an abhorrence for apartheid and the repressive measures that were used to enforce it.

55. The representative of France said that, if a vote had been taken on the draft decision, she would have abstained. Although the French Government was firmly opposed to apartheid in all its manifestations, it felt that essentially political matters were better dealt with in other United Nations forums. Continuation of the tendency to raise such matters in technical bodies could cause lasting harm to their smooth operation. The representative of Spain associated himself with those observations.

56. The representative of SWAPO said that it was well known that southern Africa was facing the problem of colonialism as well as that of ' apartheid, and expressed the hope that in future the Governing Council would find a way to incorporate in its deliberations the impact of colonialism on the environment.

57. The representative of Finland, speaking also on behalf of the representative of Norway, said that while he fully supported the decision just adopted, he felt that questions of a political nature should be dealt with in political bodies.

58. The representative of China expressed profound sympathy with the people of South Africa, where the racist regime constituted a serious obstacle to tie realization of their right to self-determination. The policy of apartheid was a crime against humanity and a threat to world peace and security and the world environment. If peace was to be maintained in that region,-the-South African regime must be subjected to strict sanctions, and the people of Namibia must be helped to secure their independence.

59. The representative of the union of Soviet Socialist Republics said that, had a vote been taken on the draft decision, she would have voted in favour of the text in its entirety.