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Finally, unless both developed and developing country governments demonstrate the necessary political will, the challenges of the interim period will not be met. All governments must endeavor to sign the Convention, if they have not already done so, and begin the necessary ratification processes so that the Convention will quickly enter into force. The average length of time between the date a convention is adopted and when it enters into force is 32 months. For example, the 1973 CITES Convention took 28 months to enter into force, the 1979 Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution took 40 months and the 1989 Basel Convention took 38 months. However, the ratification of the two most recent environmental conventions on climate change and biological diversity took only 22 months and 19 months, respectively. If there is sufficient political will, and given the urgency of the matter, particularly in Africa, the Convention to Combat Desertification could enter into force before June 1996 and continue this trend.

Affected country governments can also demonstrate their political will by beginning the process of developing national action programmes with the participation of community-based organizations and NGOs. Government assistance in raising public awareness about the causes and effects of desertification is also important in both affected and non-affected countries. People in the cities, as well as those in remote villages, must learn about desertification and how to combat it. Donor countries can also show their political will by providing resources to affected developing countries and NGOs for activities such as public awareness raising and the preparation and implementation of national action programmes.

At the INCD, governments must demonstrate that they can continue to work together effectively to ensure that the interim period is a productive one. After all, the purpose of this Convention and the INCD is not to provide a forum for procedural wrangling and prolonged arguments over words. The Committee should be a place to demonstrate commitment and action to improve the situation of the nearly one billion people who live in the drylands.

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