World Summit Attracts 106 Leaders, Not USA

NEW YORK, New York, July 30, 2002 (ENS) - Leaders of 106 countries have officially indicated that they will attend the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development set for Johannesburg, South Africa from August 26 to September 4, the UN announced today.

Delegations from 174 countries will participate in the environment and development summit, but not all will be led by heads of government or heads of state. A head of state represents the state but does not exercise political power, while a head of government is the person in charge of the executive branch of government.

Heads of government or heads of state from Europe, Russia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan and South Korea are among those who will be attending the summit, but to date the White House has not indicated that President George W. Bush will go to South Africa.


President George W. Bush has not said he will attend the summit.
(Photo courtesy The White House)
The National Security Council (NSC) office within the White House told ENS today that the President has not made an announcement indicating whether or not he will attend the summit.

Nor has the United States designated a person to head the delegation, which the United Nations has listed at the ministerial level on the Provisional List of Speakers for the general debate which takes place during the last three days of the summit, September 2 through 4.

An NSC spokesperson who preferred to remain anonymous said that Secretary of State Colin Powell might possibly head the U.S. delegation, or the head job could be handed to Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, who has led U.S. delegations to climate and sustainable development negotiations for the Bush administration in the past.

The United States, India, Switzerland, Greece, and Austria are the only industrialized or large developing nations that are still listed at the ministerial level. Any country can update its listing until it is called upon to speak on the summit floor.


UK Prime Minister Tony Blair will attend the summit.
(Photo courtesy 10 Downing St.)
Forty-five other nations are now listed at the ministerial level including: Chad, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, Estonia, Palestine, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

Some 65,000 people are expected to travel to Johannesburg for the event including the official delegates to the summit itself and a significant number of additional people attending events associated with the Summit, such as the civil society Global Forum and the Ubuntu village and exhibition.

There are expected to be three main outcomes from the summit, United Nations organizers say.

The Johannesburg Metro Council is spending more than R65 million (US$6.5 million) to host the expected delegates. A large portion of the money is being spent on infrastructure development. Council officials said most of the work will be completed by July 31.

The council estimates the summit will generate about R1 billion (US$99 million) for the city and create about 14,000 jobs.


The Sandton Convention Centre where the official summit will be held. (Photo courtesy Sandton Convention Centre)
Some 200 metro buses will be made available to transport delegates to summit venues and tourism destinations around the city and to the Sandton Conference Center where the official summit will take place.

Due to the threat of protests during the summit, a number of businesses in Sandton are planning to temporarily relocate to Midrand, the South African Press Association (SAPA) reported last week. The companies are concerned that any possible mayhem could disrupt their business operations.

"Radical activists have said that they would ignore police plans to crack down on their protests during the global environmental summit," SAPA reported.

Landless people from communities across the Johannesburg area, organized as The Landless People’s Movement, say they are suffering forced removals at the hands of Joburg City Councillors.

"The government’s brutal strategy to forcibly remove poor and landless people from their homes is aimed at hiding South African poverty from the world ahead of the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development," they said in a July 4 statement.