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The Third Extraordinary Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA-EX3) was officially opened by Commission Chair Jos� M. Bolivar (Spain) who noted the spirit of compromise that prevailed during the meeting of the Working Group that preceded CGRFA-EX3. He expressed hope that the Commission would take significant steps toward achieving the objectives, which are in the genuine interest of the international community. Mr. Abdoulaye Sawadogo, Assistant Director- General of the FAO’s Agriculture Department, delivered an opening statement on behalf of the FAO Director-General. Welcoming new members to the Commission and observers from other UN organizations, IGOs and NGOs, he stated that the major task in 1997 would be to follow up Leipzig, particularly in terms of financing, implementing and monitoring the GPA as well as making progress on the revision of the IU. Delegates observed a minute of silence in memory of Mr. John Suich, who had led the UK delegation in previous meetings of the Commission.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Delegates adopted the provisional agenda and timetable (document CGRFA-EX3/96/1 and 2), containing the following items: continuation of negotiations for the revision of the IU; report of the Eleventh Session of the Working Group; continuation of negotiations; and other business, including follow-up to ITCPGR-4.

In addition to Jos� Bolivar, who was elected Chair of the Commission at its sixth session in June 1995, the Commission elected Mr. Moorosi Raditapole (Lesotho) and Ms. Kristiane Herrmann (Australia) as first and second Vice-Chairs, respectively, and Mr. Fernando Jos� Marroni de Abreu (Brazil) as Rapporteur.

The Commission then addressed the Report of the Working Group before opening the floor to formal statements in plenary, which continued for the rest of the day on Monday. The meeting then established two open-ended working groups. The Working Group on Farmers’ Rights, chaired by Mr. R. S. Paroda (India), held four sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday before reporting back to plenary on Thursday. The Working Group on Scope and Access held two sessions on Tuesday, at the end of which the Chair, Mr. Jos� Miguel Bolivar, established a “Friends of the Chair Contact Group” (FOC). This group met under the chairmanship of Dr. Bryan Harvey (Canada) for three sessions on Wednesday before reporting back to plenary on Thursday. On the basis on these plenary interventions, the meeting decided to reconvene an “expanded” FOC (on the basis of regional representation, also drawing on the original participants to ensure continuity) in parallel to plenary. This expanded Friends of the Chair Contact Group met for one session on Friday morning. Chair Harvey then presented the results of this second round of discussions in plenary on Friday afternoon.

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