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ARTICLE 18 -- INFORMATION COLLECTION: Greece, on behalf of the EU, identified the need to collect information with both traditional and modern technologies. Botswana, on behalf of the African Group, urged that the information collected must actually address the problem of desertification as well as other socio-economic problems, such as poverty. Egypt noted the unavailability of good information on land degradation and called for the establishment of a worldwide early warning mechanism. China added that the global network should include national, sub-regional and regional mechanisms. Australia suggested that local data should be considered where scientific data is not available. Benin noted the lack of capacity in existing institutions to undertake the activities envisaged by the Convention.

Paragraph 1 states that Parties will coordinate the collection, analysis and exchange of information. Egypt requested reference to global early warning systems. Canada, supported by France and Israel, suggested that observation should also focus on the effects of land degradation and emphasize the importance of centralized coordination. Tunisia called for the reference to the importance of preventive measures. Belgium noted the gaps in the current early warning systems and suggested they might be filled by the proposed global network.

Sub-paragraph 1(a) describes the activities to be undertaken by the global network. Niger questioned the merit of restricting observation stations to remote areas. France supported Tunisia's request to avoid mention of satellite imagery. Canada noted the considerable expense and logistical difficulties with this type of technology. China, supported by Burkina Faso, mentioned that without appropriate financial support, this Article would not be realized. The US emphasized the importance of early warning in order to mitigate the effects of drought and desertification. Egypt supported the US and added that each nation must be responsible for setting up appropriate sites for monitoring.

Sub-paragraph 1(b) calls for information collection, analysis and exchange activities to address local concerns. There was no debate.

Sub-paragraph 1(c) supports bilateral and multilateral programmes. Chile noted the importance of specifying the need for the production of relevant information where it does not exist.

Sub-paragraph 1(d) calls for use of expertise of relevant intergovernmental and NGO bodies. Norway, supported by Tunisia, affirmed the role of NGOs. Norway also stressed the role of local communities.

Sub-paragraph 1(e) gives greater weight to socio- economic data. Egypt suggested moving it to paragraph 1(a).

Sub-paragraph 1(f) calls for the exchange of information. Benin suggested merging this sub-paragraph with sub-paragraph 1(a). Canada suggested reference to local communities and people. The US had problems with the phrase "freely available," stating that it implied available at no charge. They suggested the phrase "fully available" instead. Australia suggested the wording "exchange and make fully, openly and promptly available, information from all public sources relevant to combatting desertification."

Paragraphs 2 and 3 were deleted. Paragraph 2 stated that the COP will prepare guidelines for the collection of information. Paragraph 3 stated that the Secretariat shall catalogue existing arrangements and facilities to enable effective operation of the global network.

PART IV: ARTICLE 24 -- CONFERENCE OF PARTIES: Benin, on behalf of Africa, stressed the necessity for the Conference of Parties (COP) to enable the governments to work along the lines and practices of the Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions. China said a final decision on the COP cannot be reached until other related sections are finalized. Australia stated that the establishment of a bureau, as proposed in paragraph 6, was generally not included in international conventions. Agreement was reached on paragraphs 1 and the chapeau of paragraph 2, that establish the COP as the supreme body charged with ensuring the implementation of the Convention.

Paragraph 2 sub-paragraphs (a) to (g) outline the specific roles of the COP. There was extensive debate as to whether sub-paragraph 2(a), review of the operation of the Convention, and 2(c), assess the implementation of the Convention, should be merged. Benin, supported by Cameroon, Lesotho and Tunisia argued that the two were not duplicative.

Consensus was not reached on sub-paragraph 2(j), the mandate of the COP to approve a comprehensive regular budget. Sub-paragraph 2(k) refers to the role of IGOs and NGOs. Egypt warned delegates about placing responsibility on those IGOs who are not answerable to the UN. He said that in the past similar requests to IGOs made by the UN on the latter's Plans of Action have not been realized. He said a mechanism should be established or identified to promote such cooperation. Kenya introduced an amendment empowering the COP to monitor national and regional activities. This proposal will be reviewed during the second reading. Botswana introduced a new paragraph empowering the COP to "promote and strengthen the relationship with other relevant conventions." It was agreed that the paragraph should be placed in Article 8 on the relationship with other Conventions. The remaining sections of the article, paragraphs 3-7 were not concluded. However, there was extensive debate as to whether paragraph 3 should be deleted since it is similar to sub-paragraph 2(h). Both paragraphs relate to the rules of procedure of the COP.

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