ENB:04:55 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

DIVISIONS WITHIN THE REGIONAL GROUPS:

These complex North-South relationships were further exacerbated by divisions within the major negotiating groups. Although tribute should be paid to Algeria for uniting the G-77 on many issues during these negotiations, which often pitted regional groups in direct competition with each other, some divisions could not be overcome. The development of regional implementation annexes served in many ways to deepen the regional divide. Developing countries from Asia, Latin America and Africa were thrust into positions requiring them to support their own regional interests over the collective interest of the G-77.

Throughout the negotiations, it was interesting to note how many countries suddenly discovered they suffered from drought and/or desertification. Even some Southeast Asian countries insisted that they felt marginalized and excluded from the Convention. Nevertheless, the African Group felt that attention diverted towards other regional groups would have the effect of diluting the priority that had been guaranteed to Africa. There were also times, particularly during the final days of the finance negotiations, when the Africans appeared ready to accept deals proposed by the OECD countries. However, several times these deals were scuttled by other G-77 members who maintained tougher positions on finance, since they had less to lose if the Convention was not adopted on 17 June 1994.

The situation was no less fractious within the OECD. In general, certain delegates felt that the EU had displayed a rather non-conciliatory and, at times, paternalistic attitude throughout these negotiations. By contrast, it was felt by several that the Nordics, the US, Canada and Australia had demonstrated real commitment to addressing the problems at hand, and appeared more prepared to undertake concrete obligations and commitments. As a result of the divergences in approaches and negotiating instructions, the OECD had difficulty in achieving and articulating a unified position. This resulted in a leadership vacuum, which manifested itself most patently in the finance negotiations where there was an early deadlock on the establishment of a global fund. The EU maintained its objection to the fund. Other OECD countries took a more conciliatory approach. The G-77 argued that the fund was the centerpiece of the Convention and its establishment was essential to ensure effective implementation. It was not until the US stepped in, proposed the idea of a global mechanism, and then took the lead in achieving support for this idea within the EU, the OECD and the G-77 that the leadership vacuum was filled and progress could be made.

[Return to start of article]