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V. Major trends and policies in food and agriculture

A. Statements by heads of delegations in the general discussion
B. World Food and Agriculture Situation
C. Preparations for an international development strategy for the fourth UN development decade FAO's contribution
D. Progress report on the GATT multilateral trade negotiations (Uruguay round) and Implications for FAO
E. Commission on plant genetic resources and the international undertaking: progress report
F. International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides: Introduction of the "Prior Informed Consent" Clause
G. Plan of action for the integration of women into agricultural and rural development

A. Statements by heads of delegations in the general discussion

35. The General Discussion was opened by the Director-General. The text of his statement is given in Appendix D to this report. Following this, 139 speakers participated in the discussion: the Independent Chairman of the Council; His Excellency Hissene Habre, the President of the Republic of Chad, who spoke in his capacity as current Chairman of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS); the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mr Hans Blix; Heads of Delegations, of which 95 were Ministers or Vice-Ministers; the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO; representatives of three UN bodies: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); the European Economic Community (EEC), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP); and observers from five international non-governmental organizations which had consultative status with FAO. The statements of five Member Nations were inserted in the records.

B. World Food and Agriculture Situation

The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA)
International agricultural adjustment: progress report on guidelines 7, 8, and 9
World food day

The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA)

36. The Conference reviewed the world and regional food and agricultural situations in the light of the Director-General's report, the State of Food and Agriculture 1989 and its supplement, and was broadly in accord with its assessment. The Conference also had before it the Director-General's report, Sustainable Development and Natural Resources Management, as the basis for its discussions towards progressively translating sustainable development into practical and operational policies and programmes, within the context of agricultural and rural development.

37. The Conference welcomed the continued economic growth registered at the global level in 1988 but noted that growth in 1989 was likely to fall back to the 1985-87 average. It expressed concern that world economic growth was unevenly distributed among the various geographic and economic regions. The industrialized countries had recorded uninterrupted economic growth since their recovery from the recession of 1982. However, economic growth in the developing countries had remained much below the average for earlier decades and had been led by the developing countries in Asia. By contrast, economic growth in the African and Latin America and Caribbean regions remained depressed. Such slow growth and asymmetry in economic progress had repercussions on agriculture by restraining demand for food and agricultural products in domestic markets of economically depressed regions. This situation was exacerbated by rising inflationary pressures on food prices and low rates of agricultural investment.

38. The Conference underlined the continued deleterious effect on growth prospects for most developing countries of two unresolved issues on the international agenda: namely international debt and trade protectionism. The Conference recognized that international debt and the associated outflow of resources from debtor to creditor countries, remained an oppressive burden for many developing countries despite some initiatives taken on debt relief or restructuring. Although sound macro-economic and sectoral policies had an important role to play in restoring economic growth in debtor countries, implementation was seriously constrained by the magnitude of their debt burden.

39. The Conference also stressed that the inability of debtor countries to service their external debt was closely linked to the access of their export commodities and products to markets. It agreed that the progressive reduction of trade protectionism was important to the restoration of more broadly based economic growth. The Conference recognized that both developed and developing countries could derive significant benefits from the liberalization of agricultural commodity markets and related adjustments in agricultural support measures. In this connection, the Conference stressed the need for special and differential treatment for developing countries, expanded market access for agricultural and tropical products and substantial and progressive reductions in trade-distorting support and protection. It noted that the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations had reached a critical stage with definitive negotiating proposals being tabled. The Conference looked forward to a successful outcome of these negotiations in line with the objectives set out in the Mid-Term Review of the Uruguay Round. However, some Member Nations were of the view that it was primarily up to the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) to take a position on the measures to be taken with a view to improving trade practices with regard to agriculture.

40. The Conference noted with concern that global food and agricultural production had increased at exceptionally low rates in 1987 and 1988. It further noted that despite the marked increase in production in 1989, cereal production would be below consumption for the third consecutive year. As a consequence cereal stocks would be drawn down to a level that FAO considered to be the minimum to maintain world food security. The Conference considered that increased cereal production, where economically sound, would be needed inter alia to restore stocks to safe levels. However, it stressed that great care was needed to ensure adequacy of supplies without generating burdensome stocks.

41. The Conference agreed that developments in the short-term situation should be seen in the context of long-term trends. In this connection, it noted with concern the slowdown in the growth of world per caput staple food production and an outright decline in many developing countries, especially in Africa.

42. The Conference expressed concern over the prevailing weakness of international prices of several agricultural commodities of major export interest to developing countries, particularly the sharp decline in the price of coffee and the continued depressed price of cocoa. It noted, however, that by contrast, prices for several major food commodities had increased. It agreed that higher cereal prices, although without reaching satisfactory levels, had benefited exporters and should provide an incentive for production in the long term, but had imposed additional burdens on food-deficit countries. The Conference also expressed concern that higher prices had led to significant reductions in food-aid flows in 1988/89. It therefore welcomed statements by some major donors announcing higher commitments of food aid for 1989/90 than had been estimated earlier.

43. The Conference underlined the importance of implementing appropriate agricultural policies as a key element for agricultural development and for ensuring food security. The transfer of appropriate technology and availability of inputs and markets were also important elements, particularly for developing countries. Underlining that food security should not be equated necessarily with national self-sufficiency in food, the Conference stressed the importance of reducing rural and urban poverty in order to ensure access to food and to attack hunger and malnutrition. It agreed that FAO had important roles to play in providing technical assistance and policy advice to increase supplies of food and other agricultural, forestry and fishery products, and enhance access to food and raise rural purchasing power.

44. Some Member Nations drew the attention of the Conference to the deteriorating agricultural situation of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories and its relation to the negative effects on agricultural production and hence the food security of the Palestinian people.

45. The Conference appreciated the forthcoming publication of FAO's manual on the new methodology for estimating human energy requirements, as it would usefully complement food balance sheets as a basis for sound nutrition policies. The Conference suggested that, in future SOFA documents, cereal utilization estimates be included and that greater attention be given to substitute products. It was also suggested that the ratio of cereal stocks to consumption to ensure a minimum level of world food security, be reviewed in the light of new developments, including changing trade patterns.

46. The Conference welcomed the continued expansion in world fish production and trade of recent years, an expansion which had been shared by both developed and developing countries. It urged continued support for developing countries, particularly in Africa, which required increased assistance to enable them to derive greater benefits from their marine and inland fishery resources, including the development of aquaculture.

47. The Conference noted the serious concern expressed by some Member Nations over the increasing use of large-scale pelagic driftnets, particularly in the South Pacific Ocean. It noted that this issue was also being currently considered in the UN General Assembly, which had draft resolutions before it. Some Member Nations stated that already there was sufficient evidence of the negative impact of large-scale high seas driftnets to warrant the international community supporting an immediate ban on their use. They also stressed that this action should not be delayed pending the outcome of any further analysis. However, some other Member Nations were of the view that little scientific evidence was available on this issue to justify a ban on the use of large-scale pelagic driftnets and referred to measures that had already been taken by some countries. The Conference agreed that FAO was the most appropriate technical organization to study this matter. The Conference noted the steps already taken by FAO and agreed that this issue should continue to receive the Organization's close attention. The Conference recommended that, as far as it was feasible, and in the light of the outcome of the UN General Assembly's debate on the above-mentioned draft resolutions, FAO should undertake further action, including analytic scientific work, to improve the information available. The Secretariat should report on progress in this matter to the next session of the Committee on Fisheries.

48. Welcoming FAO's continued efforts to translate the concept of sustainable development into operational actions, the Conference urged that FAO should continue to integrate environmental issues into its programmes and field activities as a contribution to evolving a strategy for sustainable agricultural development. It agreed that limited availability of resources, both technical and economic, in the developing countries and consumerism in the developed countries were the main causes of environmental degradation, and that the reduction of poverty was an essential prerequisite for sustainable development in developing countries. The Conference expressed serious concern over natural resource degradation including soil erosion, deteriorating water quality, loss of genetic resources, deforestation and the threat of global climatic change. It recognized the need for technical and financial assistance to enable developing countries to implement environmentally sound policies consistent with development objectives. An environment of peace and international respect for sovereignty over national natural resources also were essential elements of a global sustainable development strategy.

49. Lamenting the prevailing rapid rates of loss of forests in general and natural forests in particular as they contained irreplaceable genetic resources, as well as providing regional and global benefits in stabilizing climate and the atmosphere, the Conference was of the view that embargoes on international trade in timber products were not a useful method for slowing deforestation. The formulation and implementation of appropriate national forestry policies were more important and it urged that countries should increasingly adopt the Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) which was co-sponsored by FAO, as a means to implement national plans in the forestry sector. It urged that progress made in this area be regularly monitored and evaluated. It further underlined the importance of fully integrating forestry and agricultural production activities wherever feasible.

50. The Conference welcomed FAO's continued collaboration with other agencies such as UNEP in preparation for the UN Conference on the Environment and Development in 1992. Recognizing that FAO was the key agency within the UN System to promote environmentally sound agricultural responsibility in formulating a development, it urged that FAO take primary responsibility World Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture for the 1992 Conference.

51. The Conference adopted the following Resolutions:

Resolution 1/89



Recalling the Economic and Social Council resolution 1989/96 of 26 July 1989,

Recognizing that the policies and practices of the Israeli occupation authorities impede the basic requirements for the development of the economy of the occupied Palestinian territory, including the agricultural sector,

Affirming the importance of supporting the agricultural sector in the occupied Palestinian territory,

Expressing its opposition to the Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land and expropriation of Palestinian water resources:

  • 1. Stresses the need for providing the Palestinian people with the assistance necessary for their economic development in close cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization;

    2. Requests the Director-General to send a mission to study and evaluate the situation of the agricultural sector in the occupied Palestinian territory, taking into consideration the conditions of the farmers under the existing occupation policies and practices, and to prepare a report comprising possible technical interventions to be executed by FAO;

    3. Requests the Director-General to organize a symposium on the Palestinian agricultural sector;

    4. Requests the Director-General to include the occupied Palestinian territory in future FAO programmes and activities, and in line with the present cooperation and coordination between the Palestine Liberation Organization and other UN Agencies;

    5. Calls for free access of FAO staff and experts to the occupied Palestinian territory;

    6. Requests the Director-General to report to the FAO Council in its next session and to the FAO Conference in its Twenty-sixth Session on the progress achieved in the implementation of the present resolution.

  • (Adopted 29 November 1989)

    [ 19/ The delegation of the United States of America stated that it deplored the introduction of political resolutions into the technical Specialized Agency, FAO. It supported provision of technical assistance to the Palestinian people, including by Agencies like FAO, but could not support this resolution which served a primarily political purpose. It regretted that the sponsors of this resolution had rejected several means by which they could have achieved their purported purpose, in favour of a resolution had rejected several means by which they could have achieved their purported purpose, in favour of a resolution which contained an unbalanced attack upon a Member Nation of FAO, and which would decrease, rather than increase, the chances for successfully implementing an FAO programme.

    Noting the explanations of vote, the delegation of the United States of America understood that a majority of those wished simply to urge technical assistance for the Palestinian people, and that only a small minority wished to politicize FAO by inserting false and inappropriate rhetoric in the resolution. It rejected the notion that the language of this resolution represented the will of FAO as a whole. It called upon those who insisted on politicization to desist, as it was apparent that such actions would cause serious harm to this organization.

    20/ The Arab Group, which had sponsored this draft resolution, paid tribute and expressed its appreciation and gratitude to all the Member Nations who had supported this resolution. It was confident that the support by the Member Nations of the content and intention of this resolution was testimony to a full understanding of the situation in the agricultural sector in the occupied Palestinian land.

    The Arab Group reiterated once more that the minority who had introduced this resolution had no intention whatever to politicize the work of this organization. As was mentioned in Commission I, this Group, or this minority, which belonged to this Organization and to the UN System as a whole, was always against any resolution that politicized the Organization and Specialized Agencies. This was especially true as this Organization was a pioneer in the field of agriculture, and there were millions who were starving and dying every day.

    The Arab Group stressed that it did not intend to introduce this resolution as a politicization of the work of the Organization, and it called upon the organization not to enter into such a politicization, but to concentrate its efforts towards introducing appropriate assistance in the Palestinian Arab Territories. ]

    Resolution 2/89



    Noting that as of November 1989, 67 tropical countries were involved in TFAP activities, ranging from a request for TFAP implementation to the preparations for project execution,

    Noting that so far eight round tables, marking the end of the planning phase and the beginning of the implementation phase, have been held during which the donor community has committed itself to funding a substantial number of projects,

    Noting also that the international community has welcomed the TFAP as the worldwide framework for action to promote the sustainable use and conservation of tropical forests, and to enhance the proper management of forest lands,

    Recognizing the lead role of FAO as Coordinating Agency for TFAP and appreciating the efforts that the Organization has made to mobilize human resources and funds in order to facilitate and firmly establish the TFAP,

    Recognizing also the efforts of the donor community to provide additional funds for supporting the coordinating role of FAO and appreciating its commitment to the TFAP process,

    Recognizing the important contribution that the TFAP could make to sustainable development of the countries concerned and in relation to global issues such as climate change and conservation of biodiversity,

    Recognizing the huge world population increase, and the dependence of rural people on tropical forests and the need for sustainable forest development to satisfy their growing requirements,

    Aware that:

    a) human resources development is critically important in project preparation and implementation in many tropical countries;

    b) project preparation capacity, both in and outside the tropical countries, is insufficient for the speedy implementation of the priority projects identified in the National Forestry Action Plans;

    c) external factors and the economic environment of the beneficiary countries constitute serious limitations to the successful implementation of TFAP;

    d) TFAP activities at the country level are the responsibility of the national authorities and the methods adopted must allow for self-sustainable follow-up action;

    Confirming that the TFAP Coordinating Unit has a supportive task with regard to coordinating the collective effort, monitoring the process and continuously evaluating the impact of TFAP on tropical forestry development and conservation,

    1. Requests donor governments and agencies to provide more means for the implementation of the TFAP and to strengthen the national capabilities for the development and conservation of their tropical forests;

    2. Invites the Director-General to foster training and extension courses to develop national capabilities for the formulation and implementation of programmes and projects within the framework of TFAP;

    3. Urges tropical countries and the major development banks and agencies to increase their project preparation capacity, in order to reduce the time lapse between the end of the planning phase and the implementation of the first projects;

    4. Recommends to governments, donors and international financial organizations:

    a) to accord higher priority to the forestry sector by providing stronger budget support, for strengthening national institutional capacity, especially in developing countries, to implement forestry programmes as a basis for sustainable development;

    b) to promote the further integration of forestry with other disciplines and sectors in the implementation of TFAP;

    c) to increase the afforestation efforts through TFAP as a means not only to control erosion and desertification and to provide timber and fuelwood, but also to protect the environment and combat global warming;

    5. Requests the Director-General to continue to accord high priority to the coordination and implementation of the TFAP;

    6. Urges all participants in TFAP to provide the means to advance the implementation of the Plan as rapidly as possible.

    (Adopted 29 November 1989)

    Resolution 3/89



    Recalling the UN General Assembly Resolution 42/186, on the Environmental Perspectives to the Year 2000 and Beyond, and Resolution 42/187, on the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development,

    Considering that the above-mentioned resolutions underline that insufficient attention given to the environmental impact of agricultural policies, priorities and practices has been causing extensive environmental damage, such as, inter alia:

    - soil degradation, deforestation and desertification;

    - loss of land productivity, soil and water pollution and hazard to human health caused by excessive and improper use of agricultural chemicals;

    - genetic erosion and increased vulnerability of crops to diseases and pests due in part to over-reliance on the use of high-yielding varieties,

    Recalling Resolution 9/87 entitled "FAO activities related to the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED)", requesting FAO to give greater attention to sustainable development,

    Endorsing the statement by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on Sustainable Development adopted by consensus at its Fifteenth Session,

    Bearing in mind that in Article 1 of FAO's Constitution, inter alia, states that "the Organization shall promote and, where appropriate, shall recommend national and international action with respect to the conservation of natural resources and the adoption of improved methods of agricultural production",

    Considering that FAO is in the process of improving its Global System as a mechanism for the safe conservation, sustainable use and availability of genetic resources, that is fully complementary with sustainable development,

    Agreeing that in order to promote sustainable development, FAO must in all its relevant activities look to the long term as well as the short term, and make sure that the environment and the productive capacity of natural resources are enhanced and conserved, not impaired or destroyed,

    Underlining that FAO should play a leading international. role as the centre of excellence within the UN System in several subsectors related to environment and sustainable development, and FAO should contribute actively in further international agreements on biological/genetic diversity, tropical forestry, fisheries and other environmental matters,

    Agreeing that there is a need to stimulate inter-agency cooperation and coordination and to identify opportunities for synergetic efforts in order to achieve sustainable development, the goal being to create economic and social development and at the same time take environmental considerations fully into account,

    Welcomes the proposal of making increased allocations in the Programme of Work and Budget to activities related to sustainable development:

    Decides that:

    1. the organization shall intensify its inter-disciplinary work to ensure integration of environmental considerations in all relevant FAO activities and further priority should be given to activities associated with sustainable development under the technical and economic programmes;

    2. FAO in the future must give higher priority to the prevention of environmental degradation which affects agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and strive for projects and programmes which have greater compatibility with sustainable and environmentally sound

    3. FAO should strengthen cooperation with other organizations of the UN System in pursuing sustainable development, including conservation and management of biological/genetic diversity, and increase its efforts in assisting governments in the formulation of conservation strategies, particularly in developing countries;

    4. FAO should further collaborate fully with the Secretary General of the United Nations in the preparations for the United Nations 1992 Conference on Environment and Development and should respond affirmatively to the UNEP proposal for a joint FAO/UNEP meeting on sustainable agriculture as part of the preparation for this Conference;

    5. the Director-General shall report to the Ninety-eighth Session of the FAO Council in November 1-990 on the implementation of this resolution.

    (Adopted 29 November 1989)

    52. The Conference was informed that the approved Programme of Work and Budget. for 1990-91 did not include financial provisions for the new activities resulting from the adopted Resolution on "FAO Activities Related to Sustainable Development". The costs for the full implementation of these additional activities to the Organization in the next biennium were estimated at approximately US$ 580 000 and were unlikely to be absorbed within the approved budget. Therefore, FAO required and would do its best to mobilize extra-budgetary resources of this magnitude. Some Member Nations felt that it was too early to make such an assessment.

    International agricultural adjustment: progress report on guidelines 7, 8, and 9

    53. The Conference reviewed progress in International Agricultural Adjustment under Guidelines 7, 8 and 12 on the basis of the Director-General's Progress Report and was broadly in accord with its assessment. The Conference recalled that it had decided at its Twenty-fourth Session in 1987 that full progress reports on International Agricultural Adjustment would be prepared every four years but that it had decided to review, on an exceptional basis,, progress under the above three guidelines also at its Twenty-fifth Session.

    54. Concerning Guideline 7, the Conference noted that progress to achieve its objectives, notwithstanding some policy reforms undertaken by some countries, had been disappointingly slow. It noted that support and protection measures, particularly in some developed countries, which distorted resource use and international agricultural trade, and impeded market access, had continued at high levels. The Conference recognized that the objectives of Guideline 7 were similar to those of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations as agreed for agriculture in the Mid-Term Review in Geneva in April 1989. It stressed that the Uruguay Round represented a unique opportunity for progress toward a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system and urged all participants to make the utmost efforts for the Negotiations to come to a successful conclusion.

    55. Several Member Nations informed the Conference of the proposals which their governments had submitted for negotiation in the Uruguay Round, including both agriculture and tropical products. They stressed the importance for agreement to be reached on all aspects of the Negotiations, including on sanitary and phytosanitary regulations. Several Member Nations provided information on the concessions so far made on tropical products. However, several other Member Nations stressed that much remained to be done to achieve the objectives of the negotiations on tropical products, particularly in their processed and semi-processed forms. A number of Member Nations stressed the need for domestic concerns to be taken into account in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations such as food security, social considerations, environmental factors and special and differential treatment for developing countries. In their view, the scope, extent and country coverage of policy reforms should fully reflect these concerns.

    56. In particular, many Member Nations pointed out that most developing countries needed to promote their agricultural and rural sectors, inter alia through infrastructure development and implementation of appropriate incentive policies for farmers. Such factors meant that these countries should not be expected to dismantle crucial policy measures. In this connection, it was also pointed out that input subsidies could, in certain circumstances, also contribute toward production and productivity improvements in developing countries.

    57. In relation to recent initiatives to reduce trade barriers within North America and within the European Economic Community, it was suggested that the Secretariat should analyse the implications for trade, particularly for developing countries.

    58. On Guideline 8 the Conference agreed with the assessment that recent years had been particularly unfavourable for International Commodity Agreements and that many developing countries had suffered significant losses of export revenues due to pronounced price declines for some of their major agricultural exports, most notably coffee and cocoa. Some Member Nations, deploring this situation, urged that increased efforts be made to revitalize International Commodity Agreements as a means for achieving the objective of greater stability in world markets at prices remunerative to producers and fair to consumers. These Member Nations, however, stressed that the mechanisms used to achieve these aims should be flexible and responsive to changing market conditions, in order to ensure the long-run viability of such agreements. Some other Member Nations, however, questioned the appropriateness and efficiency of International Commodity Agreements with market regulation provisions as a policy instrument to achieve stabilization objectives, and stressed that in their view, trade liberalization was the best approach for achieving greater stability in world markets.

    59. The Conference welcomed the coming into force in June 1989 of the Common Fund for Commodities which could make an important contribution to the objectives of Guideline 8. In particular, it stressed the important role that FAO's Intergovernmental Commodity Groups should play in relation to the Second Account activities of the Fund, by drawing up, sponsoring and undertaking follow-up action on commodity development projects.

    60. The Conference noted that the relatively tight supply conditions and increased prices in the world cereals markets in 1988/89 posed problems of access to food supplies at accessible prices by importing countries, particularly the low-income ones, as Guideline 8 required. It further noted that cereal import bills had increased, food aid shipments had declined from the relatively high levels of earlier years, and the resource position of the International Emergency Food Reserve (IEFR) remained difficult. The Conference urged that appropriate action be taken to make progress towards the achievement of this objective of Guideline 8.

    61. On Guideline 12, the Conference regretted that total net foreign resource flows to the developing countries had declined in recent years and that the target of the Guideline for external assistance to agriculture remained unfulfilled. In particular, it regretted the fact that there was a significant net outflow of resources from the developing countries on their long-term debt account. The Conference noted that the share of agriculture in total Official Development Finance had been maintained at around one fifth of the total.

    62. The Conference drew attention to the inter-relationships between trade, debt and aid. It stressed the need for the declining trend in resource flows to the developing countries to be reversed and urged donors to make all efforts to achieve the Guideline's target of external assistance to agriculture as soon as possible. The Conference noted that preliminary data showed that aid for all purposes from the members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) had increased significantly in 1988 from the levels of 1987. Some Member Nations reported that they had increased their foreign aid allocations and continued to give appropriate priority to agriculture in their allocations.

    World food day

    63. The Conference heard an FAO Secretariat statement regarding World Food Day. The statement announced the decision of the Director-General to have "Food for the Future" as the theme for 1990. It was the firm decision of FAO to continue supporting the worldwide observance of World Food Day, in keeping with resolutions 1/79, 7/81, 5/83 and 2/87 as well as the ideas contained in document C 87/29 "World Food Day Assessment (1981-1987) and Future Directions". The FAO Secretariat wished to encourage Member Governments and non-governmental organizations to work with FAO in 1990 to help World Food Day become an avenue through which food production systems throughout the world can be directed toward long-term sustainability in the future. The Secretariat also expressed its support for the Global Confederation of World Food Day Non-Governmental organizations as an important vehicle in strengthening the tripartite collaboration between FAO, Governments and non-governmental organizations.

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