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It was noted that the reflective mood that prevailed during the meeting allowed delegates to ask fundamental questions about what the IU should achieve. As a result, once actual negotiations get underway, delegates will have a firmer foundation on which to make greater progress. Nevertheless, efforts will need to be intensified in the lead up to COP-4 in May 1998, if the Commission is to respond to COP-3’s call for the speedy and effective completion of the revision of the IU.

Governments will need to do their homework if they are to return to the table with concrete proposals in the next round of negotiations. Some expressed hope that as delegates gain more technical knowledge, positions may begin to converge.

Whereas the Commission was once, as one delegate described, a “limited forum”, its deliberations have now sparked the interest of powerful organizations like the WTO and WIPO. In formally inviting input from these organizations at its next meeting, numerous delegates expressed the belief that the Commission is asserting itself as a political player. The Commission’s decision to formalize links with other multilateral bodies, to facilitate intersessional work, and to dedicate the first two days of its next session to regional consultations all contribute to laying a solid foundation on which to launch a serious intergovernmental negotiation process for the revision of the International Undertaking in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity.