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Working Group II continued its discussion on Section Three: Institutional and Procedural Arrangements. Annexes and protocols were not discussed as they fall under regional instruments. The Secretariat gave an overview of the contents of II and III. Brazil, supported by Malaysia, asked when the postponed discussion on definitions be taken up again. After some debate, it was agreed that definitions would not be discussed.

AMENDMENTS: The UK, supported by China, stated that they supported the African Group's proposals in principle but stressed the need to leave the section open for discussion at the next session since the substantive nature and content of the Convention are still unknown. The UK, supported by Botswana, Benin and China, suggested that a simple majority of 2/3 is preferable for ratification. The UK, supported by the US, said that an amendment should not enter into force for all parties and that a party not wishing to be bound by the amendments should so indicate. Botswana agreed with the UK that discussion on this section was premature, but noted that most of the African Group's suggestions are based on precedents.

DISPUTE SETTLEMENTS: Belgium, on behalf of the EC, stated that this section should be considered after substantive discussion on the Convention. The UK, supported by Australia, suggested that the Basel Convention and Montreal Protocol be used as precedents. Benin raised the issue of voting procedures to which Belgium proposed that this be left for the Conference of the Parties to decide. The US preferred consensus, but said they would support an article on voting procedures.

SIGNATURE: Regarding technical annexes, Benin stressed that they cannot be discussed until regional instruments were agreed upon. The US agreed, as long as the section is left open for further discussion. Benin suggested that signature be done at the level of Heads of State at UN Headquarters in New York. There was divergence regarding the period between conclusion of convention and its entry into force. Benin supported a three-month interval. Some felt that this decision should be deferred to the next session.

RATIFICATION: Belgium, on behalf of the EC, supported by the US, suggested that this section be modelled on the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions and that the Convention enter into force after a specified number of governments have ratified it.

ENTRY INTO FORCE: Argentina suggested that the Convention should enter into force after 30 countries have ratified it, since the problem of desertification is geographically-specific and implementation is urgent. Benin, Tunisia and Mali agreed. The US and Iran said it was premature to decide on this.

RESERVATIONS: The Netherlands suggested that it was premature to decide on this issue. Tunisia stated that discussion at this time would be in accordance with the preparation of international law, but the Netherlands pointed out that in recent environmental conventions, such decisions were made towards the end of the negotiations.

WITHDRAWAL: The UK favored a two-year optimum period instead of the suggested three years. Benin and Gambia said the idea was to reduce the number of withdrawals.

As there was still time available, Belgium, on behalf of the EC, proposed that a general informal debate on the Convention should be carried out. Following comments from Benin, Tunisia, Norway and Botswana it was agreed to allow time for regional meetings to develop consensus on regional instruments in preparation for Wednesday's discussion on the subject. Benin requested that the Secretariat prepare a non-paper to facilitate Wednesday's debate.

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