The Secretariat will have several
major tasks during this intersessional period. These include:
preparation of the report of the second session that will be
transmitted to the General Assembly; preparation of its formal
budget for the remaining sessions for General Assembly approval;
and, perhaps the most daunting of all, preparation of the actual
draft text of the Convention. The latter is expected to be a
consolidated text that will serve as the basis for actual
negotiations at the January session.
Some of the key issues that the Secretariat will have to address in
the preparation of this text are as follows:
- Definitions section: Since Working Group II did not formally take up this matter, the Secretariat will probably have to identify and elaborate those definitions that will be included in the Convention. At this point, it is expected that the list of definitions will be short. Most likely, they will include definitions of desertification, drought, combat and drylands.
- Type of regional instruments: Will they be programme oriented or flexible enough to include the necessary main elements while leaving the details to be worked out within the regions themselves?
- Financial resources and mechanisms: The Secretariat will have to address this issue with sufficient flexibility, in light of the fact that the global economic climate may change considerably between the signing of the Convention and its actual implementation.
- Scope: In order to be successful, the Convention must be drafted in such a way that can be applied at the national level (by way of legislation, action plans, etc.) and at the local level (by way of concrete anti-desertification programmes). This dichotomy will have to guide the drafting exercise to ensure that the "bottom-up integrated approach" is fully incorporated.
- Legally-binding obligations at the national level: There has been a continuing debate regarding the extent to which the Convention should actually set out concrete, legally-binding obligations at the national level. While the Chair has expressed his support for such a thrust, there are still numerous countries that prefer a less "dirigiste" approach. The challenge for the Secretariat will be to obtain an accurate reading of the "political landscape" and draft an instrument that best reflects the range of views on this matter.
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- Implementation: The Secretariat must address the question of what tools will be necessary to ensure the successful implementation of the Convention. While the primary tools are financial resources and technology transfer, it is apparent that the scope and type will have to vary from region to region.