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The Group spent its morning session, chaired by Takao Shibata, completing discussions on Section II, Part III on ad hoc panels in document A/AC.241/47 and then considered draft decisions.

ORGANIZATION OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION: Egypt suggested merging paragraphs 23 to 25, on the functions of ad hoc panels and the possibility for the COP to appoint them. He also proposed amending the second sentence in paragraph 27, so that it reads: "The Conference of the Parties may ask the Committee to consider the reports from ad hoc Panels and make recommendations based upon them." He also suggested merging paragraphs 29 and 30, which deal with the composition and size of the panels, and deleting paragraph 31, which restricts panels to 12 members and permits the COP to appoint a coordinator. He further suggested moving paragraph 34, financial support, into the section on financing, which provides that the ad hoc panels are subsidized by the COP. He finally suggested the deletion of paragraph 37 on reporting.

China said the panels should consider the global dimensions of desertification and seek the latest technology. The panels should be efficient, multidisciplinary, representative and not too large. France said ad hoc panels should address the needs the CST cannot deal with and have a limited time frame. Canada agreed that the panels should be multidisciplinary and reflect broad geographical representation. She also suggested additional text to paragraph 26 to insure that the panels reflect gender balance. Japan was concerned about the procedure of choosing members and suggested looking at precedents. The number of ad hoc panels should not exceed three.

The UK proposed that the Secretariat adds an appendix on precedents on how experts for ad hoc panels are chosen. Austria suggested deleting paragraph 36 that proposes two ad hoc panels. Australia rejected the proposal in paragraph 32 to choose panel members from the roster of experts because it is too restrictive. With regard to paragraph 31, a panel should be free to select its own coordinator. He suggested adding the importance of local knowledge to Canada's proposal on gender balance. Spain emphasized that not all research under the CCD should be carried out by panels. The independence of panels is important because they can insure the independence of information. The first part of the Secretariat document should say that panels are established by the COP with the recommendation of the CST and specify a time limit. He did not support the general comments in paragraphs 24-27. Panels should be selected from the roster. Financing is more important than the roster because panels have expenditure. The cost should be included in the budget of CST to insure the independence of the panels.

Mexico supported the suggestion in paragraph 36 to limit the panels to two. Gambia said the number of panelists should not exceed 12, but the number of panels should not be fixed. Cuba concurred and added that reports should be submitted through the CST, however, the CST should not amend their conclusions. The NGOs emphasized the need for a strategy regarding how output of the panels can be communicated to drylands' people. The Chair concluded that: it was not advisable to prescribe the number of panels; the panels should not be too large; modalities should be worked out for duration; terms of reference and modalities are the task for COP; it should not be prescribed that CST or COP should select from the roster; there appears to be trust for the Secretariat and Bureau of the CST; and that there should be an emphasis on local knowledge and expertise.

ADOPTION OF DRAFT DECISIONS: The Group adopted five draft decisions. Document A/AC.241/WG.II(8)/L.1 requests that the Secretariat should prepare a revised draft decision on the CST terms of reference and, using comments from INCD-8 and written remarks submitted by 15 April, a new draft decision on the roster of experts and ad hoc panels. Regarding the rules of procedure, document A/AC.241/WG.II(8)/L.2 requests a revised text from the Secretariat for INCD-9. Document A/AC.241/WG.II(8)/L.3 on Procedures for communication of information and review of implementation requests that the Secretariat should prepare a revised draft decision and reports on work being done on benchmarks and indicators. On Procedures for conciliation and arbitration, document A/AC.241/WG.II(8)/L.4, and Procedures to resolve questions on implementation, document A/AC.241/WG.II(8)/L.5, the decisions postpone further consideration until COP-1 and invite written comments from delegations.

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