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A/RES/32/162 





General Assembly

Distr: General
19 December 1977
Original: English

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Thirty-second session
Agenda item 12

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly

32/162. Institutional arrangements for international cooperation in the field of human settlements

The General Assembly,

Recalling relevant resolutions, in particular its resolutions 2718 (XXV) of 15 December 1970, 3001 (XXVII) of 15 December 1972 and 3327 (XXIX) of 16 December 1974,

Convinced of the need for urgent action to improve the quality of life of all people in human settlements,

Recognizing that such action is primarily the responsibility of Governments,

Conscious that human settlements problems represent a primary field of action in international co-operation, which should be strengthened in order that adequate solutions may be found, based on equity, justice and solidarity, especially among developing countries,

Recognizing that the international community should provide, both at the global and regional levels, encouragement and support to Governments determined to take effective action to ameliorate conditions, especially for the least advantaged, in rural and urban human settlements,

Recognizing that human settlements and the steps to be taken to improve them should be considered an essential component of socio-economic development,

Recalling the decisions of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and the recommendations of the World Population Conference, the World Food Conference, the Second General Conference of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the World Conference of the International Women's Year, as well as the Declaration and the Programme of Action on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order adopted by the General Assembly at its sixth special session and the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States adopted by the Assembly at its twenty-ninth session, that establish the basis of the new international economic order,

Aware of the sectoral responsibilities of the organizations of the United Nations system,

Conscious of the need to achieve greater coherence and effectiveness in human settlements activities within the United Nations system,

Recognizing that new priorities should be identified and activities developed to reflect comprehensive and integrated approaches to the solution of human settlements problems,

Convinced that it is necessary to consolidate and strengthen promptly the capacity of the United Nations system in the field of human settlements,

Recognizing that urgent steps should be taken to ensure a better mobilization of financial resources at all levels, with a view to improving human settlements,

Believing that:

  1. The current level of resources available for development purposes, particularly for human settlements, is clearly inadequate,

  2. The effective development of human settlements has been hindered by great disparities in socioeconomic development within and between countries,

  3. The establishment of a just and equitable world economic order through necessary changes in areas of international trade, monetary systems, industrialization, the transfer of resources, the transfer of technology and the consumption of world resources is essential for socio-economic development and for the improvement of human settlements, particularly in developing countries,

I

International Co-operation in the Field of Human Settlements

Considers that:

  1. International co-operation in the field of human settlements should be viewed as an instrument of socio-economic development;

  2. The fundamental object of international co-operation for development is to support national action and, therefore, programmes for such co-operation in the field of human settlements should be based on the policies and priorities established in the recommendations for national action of Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements;/80

  3. In seeking co-operation for development, States should give due priority to human settlements;

  4. Requests for development assistance should not be subject to discrimination on the part of the institutions to which these requests are addressed;

  5. Technical co-operation should be made available to countries requesting assistance in policy formulation, management and institutional improvement relating to human settlements;

  6. Technical co-operation should be made available to developing countries requesting assistance in education and training and applied research relating to human settlements;

  7. Financial and technical co-operation for development should be accorded to countries requesting assistance for, inter alia, projects in self-help and co-operative housing, integrated rural development, water and transportation;

  8. All Governments should give serious consideration to making contributions as soon as possible to the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation established by virtue of General Assembly resolution 3327 (XXIX), in order to expedite action programmes in the field of human settlements;

  9. Emerging concepts and priorities regarding human settlements in developing countries present new challenges to the policies and capability of development assistance agencies in donor countries and to international bodies; multilateral and bilateral development assistance agencies should therefore respond effectively to requests for assistance in the field of human settlements and special attention should be paid to the needs of the least advantaged countries, particularly in the provision of long-term, low-interest mortgages and loans to facilitate the implementation of human settlements activities in the least developed countries that cannot fulfil existing terms and conditions;

  10. Information systems should be strengthened, where necessary, and better co-ordinated, and stronger links should be established at the regional level between human settlements and research institutions in different countries;

  11. Many international organizations carry out activities related to human settlements, and specialized agencies and other appropriate bodies - in particular the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, the International Labour Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the World Bank and the World Health Organization-should consider seriously the recommendations of Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, with a view to implementing them in their respective fields of competence;

II

Commission on Human Settlements

1.Decides that the Economic and Social Council should transform the Committee on Housing, Building and Planning into a Commission on Human Settlements, which will have fifty-eight members to be elected for three~year terms on the following basis:

  1. Sixteen seats for African States;

  2. Thirteen seats for Asian States;

  3. Six seats for Eastern European States;

  4. Ten seats for Latin American States;

  5. Thirteen seats for Western European and other States;

2.Decides that the Commission on Human Settlements will discharge, inter alia, the responsibilities at present exercised by the Committee on Housing, Building and Planning;

3.Decides that the Commission on Human Settlements will have the following main objectives:

  1. To assist countries and regions in increasing and improving their own efforts to solve human settlements problems;

  2. To promote greater international co-operation in order to increase the availability of resources of developing countries and regions;

  3. To promote the integral concept of human settlements and a comprehensive approach to human settlements problems in all countries;

  4. To strengthen co-operation and co-participation in this domain among all countries and regions;

4.Decides that the Commission on Human Settlements will have the following main functions and responsibilities:

  1. To develop and promote policy objectives, priorities and guidelines regarding existing and planned programmes of work in the field of human settlements, as formulated in the recommendations of Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements and subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly;

  2. To follow closely the activities of the organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations in the field of human settlements and to propose, when appropriate, ways and means by which the over-all policy objectives and goals in the field of human settlements within the United Nations system might best be achieved;

  3. To study, in the context of the recommendations for national action of Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, new issues, problems and especially solutions in the field of human settlements, particularly those of a regional or international character;

  4. To give over-all policy guidance and carry out supervision of the operations of the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation;

  5. To review and approve periodically the utilization of funds at its disposal for carrying out human settlements activities at the global, regional and sub-regional levels;

  6. To provide over-all direction to the secretariat of the Centre referred to in section III below;

  7. To review and provide guidance on the programme of the United Nations Audio-Visual Information Centre on Human Settlements established by virtue of General Assembly resolution 31/115 of 16 December 1976;

5.Decides that the first session of the Commission on Human Settlements shall be held in the first half of 1978;

6.Decides that the reports of the Commission on Human Settlements will be submitted to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council;

III

United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)

1.Decides that a small and effective secretariat shall be established in the United Nations to service the Commission on Human Settlements and to serve as a focal point for human settlements action and the co-ordination of activities within the United Nations system, to be named "United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)", hereinafter referred to as "the Centre";

2.Decides that the Centre shall be headed by an Executive Director at a level to be determined later who shall report to the Secretary-General until such time as any relevant recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Restructuring of the Economic and Social Sectors of the United Nations System can be taken into account;

3.Decides that the Executive Director shall bc responsible for the management of the Centre, which shall comprise the posts and budgetary resources of the following:

  1. The Centre for Housing, Building and Planning of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the Secretariat;

  2. The appropriate section of the Division of Economic and Social Programmes of the United Nations Environment Programme directly concerned with human settlements, with the exception of the posts required by that Programme to exercise its responsibilities for the environmental aspects and consequences of human settlements planning;

  3. The United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation;

  4. As appropriate, selected posts and associated resources from relevant parts of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs;

4.Decides that the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation shall be administered by the Executive Director referred to in paragraph 2 of the present section and shall have the terms of reference set out in the annex to General Assembly resolution 3327 (XXIX), with appropriate amendments to reflect the new relationship to the Commission on Human Settlements and its secretariat;

5.Decides that the Centre, under the leadership of its Executive Director, shall be entrusted, inter alia. with the following responsibilities:

  1. To ensure the harmonization at the intersecretariat level of human settlements programmes planned and carried out by the United Nations system;

  2. To assist the Commission on Human Settlements in co-ordinating human settlements activities in the United Nations system, to keep them under review and to assess their effectiveness;

  3. To execute human settlements projects;

  4. To provide the focal point for a global exchange of information about human settlements;

  5. To provide substantive support to the Commission on Human Settlements;

  6. To deal with interregional human settlements matters;

  7. To supplement the resources of the regions in formulating and implementing human settlements projects when so required;

  8. To promote collaboration with, and involvement of, the world scientific community concerned with human settlements;

  9. To establish and maintain a global directory of consultants and advisers to supplement the skills available within the United Nations system and to assist in the recruitment of experts at the global level, including those available in developing countries;

  10. To initiate public information activities on human settlements in co-operation with the Office of Public Information of the Secretariat;

  11. To promote the further and continued use of audio-visual material relating to human settlements;

  12. To carry out the mandate and responsibilities previously assigned by the appropriate legislative bodies to the secretariat units to be absorbed in the central staff ;

  13. To implement programmes until they arc transferred to the regional organizations;

6.Decides that the Director of the United Nations Audio-Visual Information Centre on Human Settlements Sh~lll report to the Executive Director;

7.Decides that there should be close links between the Centre and the United Nations Environment Programme, and that for this reason the location of the Centre should be at Nairobi;

8.Decides that during the period 1978-1980 a significant portion of all posts in the Centre will be assigned to the regions for work on regional human settlements questions;

IV

Organization at the Regional Level

1.Recommends that the regional commissions should consider the establishment of regional intergovernmental committees on human settlements, comprising all members, in cases where such committees do not already exist;

2.Recommends that such regional committees should be established as soon as possible and should then co-ordinate their activities with those of the Commission on Human Settlements and report to it through the appropriate regional commissions;

3.Recommends that the responsibility for implementing regional and subregional programmes should be gradually transferred to regional organizations;

4.Recommends that each regional committee should be served by a unit of the secretariat of the parent regional commission under an executive officer, that these units should preferably be established as soon as possible and that they should be provided with the necessary resources for their operations;

5.Decides that the regional committees shall be responsible for the formulation of regional and subregional policies and programmes and for their implementation;

6.Recommends that the budgetary and personnel resources available to each regional secretariat unit should consist of those available from the regular budgetary resources and those redeployed from the aggregate posts available to the central secretariat, voluntary contributions, including those made to the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, as well as selected resources currently available to each region;

7.Recommends that the principal functions of the regional secretariat units should be:

  1. To serve the regional committees referred to in paragraph 1 of the present section;

  2. To review progress in the implementation of programmes with the regions;

  3. To promote the active collaboration of governmental representatives in activities related to human settlements;

  4. To assist Governments of countries in the region in the formulation of their requests for assistance from the appropriate bilateral and multilateral bodies;

  5. To establish close links with the appropriate financial institutions at the regional and global levels and with regional units of the specialized agencies;

  6. To formulate, implement and supervise regional and subregional programmes and projects, especially regional training programmes;

  7. To execute regional human settlements projects;

8.Recommends that the regional secretariat units, with the approval of the regional committees, should identify those national and regional institutions which are best able to provide services, training and assistance in research relating to human settlements;

V

Terms of Reference

1.Decides that human settlements activities and programmes at both the global and regional levels shall deal in particular with the following subject areas:

  1. Settlement policies and strategies;

  2. Settlement planning;

  3. Institutions and management;

  4. Shelter, infrastructure and services;

  5. Land;

  6. Public participation;

2.Decides that the formulation of global programme priorities within these broad subject areas shall be undertaken by the Commission on Human Settlements and that of regional programme priorities by the regional committees, on the basis of the needs and problems of the region and of the countries within the regIon;

3.Recommends that the following functions should be considered on a priority basis, in relation to the subject areas mentioned in paragraph 1 of the present section:

  1. Identification of the problems and possible solutions;

  2. Formulation and implementation of policies;

  3. Education and training;

    Cd) Identification, development and use of appropriate technology, as well as limitation of hazardous technology;

  4. Exchange of information, including audio- visual information;

  5. Implementation machinery;

  6. Assistance in the mobilization of resources at the national and international levels;

  7. Promotion of the establishment of an international information pool on building materials, plants and equipment;

VI

Concerted Action and Co-ordination

1.Urges, in particular, that the Executive Director of the Centre and the bureau of the Commission on Human Settlements should meet biannually with the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme and the bureau of its Governing Council to review together their respective priorities and programmes for improving human settlements and to strengthen and extend co-operation between the two organizations;

2.Urges also that the Executive Director of the Centre and the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme should participate in and address the annual meetings of their governing bodies;

3.Decides that there must be a sustained and determined effort, on the part of all organizations most closely connected with human settlements, at both the regional and global levels, to concert their planned programmes and projects;

4.Decides further that the existing mechanisms of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination must be strengthened to ensure that co-ordination in the field of human settlements is effective throughout the whole United Nations system;

VII

Working Relations with Financial Institutions

1.Recommends that the Centre and the secretariats of the regional commissions should establish working relations, as regards the question of human settlements, with the principal financial institutions at the regional and global levels;

2.Recommends that special co-operation should exist at the global, regional and national levels between the United Nations Development Programme and the Centre;

VIII

Co-operation with Organizations outside the United Nations System

Recommends that, at the global and regional levels, co-operation should be sought with universities, research and scientific institutes, non-governmental organizations and voluntary groups, in order to make full use of their knowledge and experience in the field of human settlements; at the intergovernmental level, this co-operation should be formalized and at the secretariat level it should be brought about by the establishment of appropriate working relations.

107th plenary meeting
19 December 1977