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Report of main proceedings for 9 January 1997

10th Session of the the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification

Working Group I considered the Global Mechanism during the morning and evening, andarrangements for designation of the Permanent Secretariat and arrangements for itsfunctioning during the afternoon. Working Group II completed consideration of the rulesof procedure during the morning and discussed the draft programme of work for theCommittee on Science and Technology during the afternoon.

WORKING GROUP I

GLOBAL MECHANISM: The morning session adjourned early to enable the G-77 and China to complete discussions on the Global Mechanism (GM) and the OECDgroup of countries to consult on the Permanent Secretariat. In the afternoon, an informalopen-ended working group, with core regional representatives, began negotiations on textfor paragraph 4 (mobilization of resources).

INFORMAL OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP: Following introductoryremarks from the Chair, one regional group circulated and introduced a six-paragraphnon-paper, which combined different sub-paragraphs of paragraph 4 drawn fromdocument A/51/76/Add.1, for discussion. Although many delegations were hesitant tocomment on this draft text, they made preliminary observations that centered on whetheror not the GM should mobilize and channel financial resources.

Some argued against: the tendency to arbitrarily select text on mobilization of resources;the failure to include proposals made Wednesday by other delegations; and the failure tolink the function of mobilizing and channelling of resources to “promoting or facilitating”these activities. Some said the GM cannot disburse financial resources because there areno legal provisions on disbursement. Others said mobilizing resources is the role of theParties, not the GM. Some noted that: the Convention provisions do not bar the GM frommobilizing or channelling resources; mobilizing resources is in line with Article 2 of theConvention; and the functions allocated to the GM so far are very academic.

Many delegates expressed frustration and urged each other to stop playing “hide-and-seek.” Some were hesitant to begin a paragraph-by-paragraph reading of the non-paper,and expressed a preference to discuss the Chair’s text contained in documentA/51/76/Add.1. Negotiations continued into the evening.

PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: The Secretariat introduced the administrativearrangements for the Permanent Secretariat contained in A/AC.241/64 prepared from:draft decision A/AC.241/WGI/VII/L.1, submitted by Uganda at INCD-7; proposals of theSecretary-General at INCD-8 in A/AC.241/44, which were amended to A/AC.241/55 forINCD-9; and proposals from the UNEP Executive Director to INCD-9 inA/AC.241/55/Add.2. Document A/AC.241/64 contains answers provided by the UN andUNEP to the questions raised by delegations at INCD-9. Referring to paragraph 15, theSecretariat said the questions on budget and staffing are the prerogative of the COP, thusthe UN and UNEP could not issue responses. He also pointed out a typographical errorthat makes reference to possible budget and staffing implications, which are contained indocument A/AC.241/65.

Substantive discussion on the subject took place in the afternoon. The Chair submitted adraft decision similar to the one he submitted at INCD-9. Delegates agreed to a firstreading of the draft, on the understanding that a substantive discussion would be heldduring the second week after regional consultations.

The Chair’s document decides that the Permanent Secretariat: shall be institutionallylinked either to the UN or UNEP without being fully integrated into the work programmeand management structure of the institution; accepts the arrangements proposed foradministrative support; decides to review these arrangements not later than the fourthsession, in consultation with the institution’s head; requests the Executive Secretary topursue the question of allotment of overhead to defer administrative expenses and toreport the results to the second session; and expresses appreciation to the UN agenciesand UN system that have supported the Interim Secretariat. The decision also containspreambular paragraphs of a procedural nature, which authorize the draft decision.

Austria reserved its position on the substantive and legal construction of the paragraph oninstitutional linkages, while Haiti noted that the language of the text is not conclusivebecause text in all the UN’s official languages was not available.

WORKING GROUP II

The Working Group II Chair, Takao Shibata (Japan), convened the Group and askeddelegates to consider the Rules of Procedure of the Conference of the Parties (COP)(A/AC.241/48/Rev.2).

RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE COP: In Rule 5 (notification ofsessions), Uganda, on behalf of the G-77 and China, suggested that the PermanentSecretariat shall notify all Parties of the dates and venue of “an ordinary session,” andthat the date and venue of an extraordinary session shall be notified pursuant to rule 4,paragraph 3 (when extraordinary sessions can be held) “and 4" (if held at written request).Delegates agreed. In Rule 6 (participation of UN specialized agencies), it wasagreed to keep the brackets until it has been decided whether the Global Mechanismshould be housed by one or several organizations.

The Chair opened debate on Rules 22, 31 and 46 hoping that by solving Rule 22,the other two would be solved automatically. Despite pleas from the Chair to specify thenumber of Bureau members, no agreement was reached and the brackets in all three Rulesremain. Under Rule 22, paragraph 1 (composition of the Bureau of the COP), theG-77 and China wanted: nine Vice-Presidents; deletion of the text referring torepresentation of each geographical region by two members; and deletion of the text onrepresentation of regions referred to in the implementation annexes of the Convention.The UK noted that Bureaus of subsidiary bodies would then also have to have elevenmembers. He preferred three. Spain wanted to retain representation of regions in theimplementation annexes. In Rule 31 (election of officers in subsidiary bodies),Spain wanted to retain the text on the representation of regions referred to in theimplementation annexes. The G-77 and China objected. The Chair suggested bracketing“nine” and deleting “three” in Rule 22 so that the COP-1 President would have anindicative number when forming the Bureau. The UK added a bracketed “four” Vice-Chairpersons in Rule 31.

In Rule 46 (voting), the EU said a similar rule is not finalized for the FCCC(Framework Convention on Climate Change) and the CBD (Convention on BiologicalDiversity). The G-77 and China supported text noting that, if consensus is not reached, adecision shall be taken by a two thirds majority vote of the Parties present and voting.The EU, supported by the US, wanted to keep agreement by consensus. The Chair notedthat the FCCC did not adopt its rules of procedure but applied them with brackets. TheCBD adopted its rules of procedure with brackets. The G-77 and China preferred theCBD precedence.

In Rule 51 (method of voting for general matters), the G-77 and China proposedthat a vote be taken “in the order used or established by the General Assembly,” which isin English alphabetical order. The UK added in the order used or established “by the rulesof procedure” by the GA, which was agreed.

Rule 58 now states that official documents of the sessions shall be drawn up inone of the official languages and translated into the other official languages.

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION: The Secretariatpresented document A/AC.241/66 on a draft proposed programme of work for theCommittee on Science and Technology (CST), which suggests four priority areas:networking of institutions; benchmarks and indicators; inventories of traditional and localknowledge; and establishment of research priorities.

Regarding networking, the G-77 and China suggested identifying potential networks inaddition to existing networks. India called attention to regional networks. Delegates willsubmit names of organizations that could draw up costed proposals for COP-1 on thesurvey and evaluation of networks, as well as suggestions for the terms of reference forthe survey.

Regarding benchmarks and indicators, the Secretariat introduced A/AC.241/INF.4, thereport on work being done on benchmarks and indicators. The UK suggested that theinformal group that prepared the report: possibly be continued and expanded; extend itswork to other regions in addition to Africa; and develop guidelines on ways to apply anduse indicators. The Chair noted the Group’s desire for an informal, open-endedconsultative process to continue. Delegates will submit suggestions for the areas onwhich the group could focus.

The Working Group also decided to ask delegations, international and non-governmentalorganizations to send the Interim Secretariat views on how to conduct work on:inventories of traditional and local technology, knowledge, know-how and practices; andthe establishment of research priorities. The Interim Secretariat will compile these.

Richard Ledgar of the NGO working group on the CST pointed out that benchmarks needto be “predictive” and hoped that NGOs could take part in the informal consultativeprocess on benchmarks and indicators. He proposed an ad hoc panel of the CST tofocus on local area development. To ensure the important link between the micro and themacro levels, he said half of that panel should be composed of NGO representatives.

The Group also decided that the INCD should request the Interim Secretariat to presentan annotated agenda for the first meeting of the CST to be presented to COP-1.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Although discussion on the actual organization that will provide administrative support tothe Permanent Secretariat will not take place in Working Group I until early next week,discussions have already begun in the corridors. The experiences of the climate changeand biological diversity conventions are informing the choice of some participants. Theynote the decision taken at COP-3 for the CBD, inviting the Executive Secretary andUNEP to clarify and make more effective their respective roles and to follow, as far aspossible and where appropriate, the arrangements agreed between the UN and the FCCCon personnel, financial and common services arrangements. Some anticipate thatagreement will be reached at INCD-10.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

WORKING GROUP I: The Group is expected to meet at 10:00 am to continuedeliberations on the Global Mechanism and at 3:00 pm to discuss the programme andbudget. The draft decision on administrative arrangements for the Permanent Secretariatwill be circulated Friday morning in all official languages.

WORKING GROUP II: The Group will meet at 10:00 am to continuediscussions on scientific and technological cooperation, but is not expected to meet in the afternoon.

ACCT MEETING: ACCT will host a meeting of Francophone countries from1:00 to 2:00 pm. See the Journal for location.

Participants

National governments
UK
US
Negotiating blocs
European Union
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions
NGOs

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