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Report of main proceedings for 16 January 1997

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

Delegates to INCD-10 met in two Working Groups during the morning. Working Group Iconsidered three draft decisions and the financial rules. Working Group II completedconsideration of its decisions, including the results of Wednesday evening’s consultationson preparatory measures to put in hand work on networking of institutions, agencies andbodies. Informal consultations continued on the Global Mechanism during the afternoon.

WORKING GROUP I

The Group considered its report during a morning meeting, which was suspended twicefor informal consultations. The Chair, Mahmoud ould El Ghaoth (Mauritania), informeddelegates that a representative from the office of the UN Legal Counsel had beenrequested to clarify issues relating to the administrative arrangements of the PermanentSecretariat.

DESIGNATION OF A PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: ADMINISTRATIVEARRANGEMENTS: The Chair presented the two proposed draft decisions, onefrom the G-77 and China (A/AC.241/WG.I(VII)/L.1), submitted at INCD-7, and onefrom the Chair (A/AC.241/WG.I(X)/L.1). He reported that informal consultations hadbeen conducted on the issue of administrative arrangements, chaired by Antigua andBarbuda. Draft proposals from the informal consultations were also distributed todelegates. Tanzania, on behalf of the G-77 and CHINA, requested the legal expert toexplain the reasoning behind the Chair’s draft.

The expert specified that he was not providing a formal legal opinion but was makinginformal clarifications. He said that the CCD has established an independent treatyorganization, which can receive administrative support from a UN body or agencywithout being provided the privileges and opportunities accorded by the juridicalpersonalities granted under the UN Charter. The revised Chair’s draft would enable it tobelong to the UN, while being granted independence. He also said that UN entities mustbe answerable to either the UN Security Council or the General Assembly.

The Netherlands, on behalf of the EU, said that after consulting their own legal advisorthey would prefer substituting the terms “administrative arrangements” with “necessaryservices,” arguing that the former is too narrow. This attracted prolonged debate.

Several delegates argued that it is difficult to define “necessary services” and that thischange would necessitate making a request to the Secretary-General to alter his offer. TheChair suspended the meeting for 30 minutes for informal consultations, after which it wasagreed that the text should be amended to that used in the Secretary-General’s offer,“administrative and support arrangements.”

The Group adopted the amended draft decision that: accepts the offer of the UNSecretary-General to provide administrative and support arrangements; requests theSecretary-General to appoint the Executive Secretary of the CCD, after consulting withthe COP through its Bureau; states that the CCD should not be fully integrated into thework programme and management structure of any particular department or programmeof the UN; decides to review these arrangements no later than COP-4; requests theExecutive Secretary to pursue the issue of allotment of overhead to defer administrativeexpenses and to report the results to COP-2; and expresses appreciation to the UN systemand agencies that have supported the Interim Secretariat. The G-77 and CHINA draftdecision was withdrawn.

PROGRAMME AND BUDGET: During consideration of the draft decision, ascontained in A/AC.241/WG.I(X)/L.3, Tanzania, on behalf of the G-77 and CHINA, saidhe had been informed that the end of February 1997 would be too late to submit writtencomments on the Secretariat’s document (A/AC.241/65), and he proceeded to issue a G-77 and China statement. The Group: approves the Secretariat’s document; hopes therevised version will contain a budget indicating costs per item; supports the establishmentof the Special and Voluntary Funds; supports working capital funds; and proposes thatthe cost of the Global Mechanism (GM) be funded by the host institution. The draftdecision requests the Secretariat to circulate, at least 90 days before COP-1, the necessarydraft decisions related to the programme of work and budget of the COP, as well asdetailed budget estimates for the biennium 1998-1999.

There was a brief debate regarding the EU’s suggestion to request the Interim Secretariatto carry out these tasks “on the basis of comments made on this subject” at the tenth andearlier sessions of the INCD. The consensus was to retain “...while taking full account....”The US’ suggestion to add “as well as any comments from member States received by 15February,” was accepted. The draft decision was adopted.

DRAFT FINANCIAL RULES OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES, ITSSUBSIDIARY BODIES AND THE PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: The Groupdiscussed this subject for the first time at INCD-10 Thursday morning. The Group held abrief discussion on financial rules as contained in Annex I of decision 9/8, in documentA/51/76/Add.1. With consensus reached on the host institution of the PermanentSecretariat, delegates agreed to delete all references to UNEP. The Chair noted that Rule23, decision procedures, was redundant and it was deleted. There was no consensus onRUSSIA’s suggestion to add “as well as in special cases of other particularly interestedand affected parties” in Rule 10, which refers to the creation of a special fund to supportthe participation of representatives of developing countries at the COP and meetings of itssubsidiary bodies. However, it was agreed that groups should continue to consult on theissue. The rules were adopted.

IDENTIFICATION OF AN ORGANIZATION TO HOUSE THE GLOBALMECHANISM: The Chair reported that the core group negotiating the function ofmobilizing resources had not reached agreement. He suggested adopting an “enablingdecision” (A/AC.241/WG.I(X)/L.2). The US proposed new elements, which wereaccepted. The decision: approves the text in Annex I on the functions of the GM andselection criteria for the host institution; transmits the Annex to COP-1; invites IFAD andUNDP to submit to the Secretariat revised versions of any new elements of their offers,including the proposed administrative operations and possibility for co-hosting, by 1 May1997; and requests the Interim Secretariat to compile these submissions in a document forpresentation at COP-1. It was agreed to transmit the decision to the Plenary for discussionbecause the G-77 and China had not had time to discuss it.

WORKING GROUP II

Working Group II Chair Takao Shibata (Japan) explained that a solution had been foundto the outstanding issues in draft decision A/AC.241/WG.II(X)/L.5 during informalconsultations the previous evening, Wednesday 15 January. The revised version of thedecision is entitled “Committee on Science and Technology (CST): Preparatory measuresto put in hand work on networking of institutions, agencies and bodies.” It requests theInterim Secretariat to solicit proposals from an indicative list of competent organizations,contained in Annex II of the same document, and to undertake a survey and evaluation ofexisting networks, institutions, agencies and bodies willing to become units of a networkthat shall support the implementation of the Convention. The decision also requests theInterim Secretariat to circulate summaries of proposals from such organizations beforeCOP-1. Finally, it recommends that the CST review the terms of reference and that theCST recommend a contractor for approval by the COP. Annex I contains the draft termsof reference and the proposed organization of work to be undertaken on networking ofinstitutions, agencies and bodies.

The Chair noted that the location of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD) on the indicative list in Annex II in the document should be changed from AddisAbaba to Djibouti. The UK stressed that it had been agreed that the organizations thatsubmit proposals for carrying out the survey should be asked to include costs and thatthese costs should be included in the budget for COP-1. The Chair said the InterimSecretariat would see to that. The draft decision was adopted.

Document L.6, “Organization of the Work of the CST” was adopted with amendments.The UK questioned the appropriateness of the reference to submitting the draft roster toCOP-1 for “approval,” given that there was agreement to have no evaluation criteria fornominations. The US suggested deleting for “approval by” COP-1 and adding “forestablishment at” COP-1, which was agreed. TANZANIA said the Interim Secretariatshould prepare a “draft” annotated agenda for the first session of the CST, which was alsoagreed.

CHINA questioned how it would be possible for nominations of experts to take intoaccount the need for an “equitable geographic distribution.” The Chair and the UKconcurred, but both noted that previously agreed decisions on the procedures for theestablishment of ad hoc panels include that language, and it remained in L.6.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) suggested adding a deadline forsubmission of names for the draft roster in paragraph 3, inviting Parties to nominateindependent experts. The Chair suggested 15 May 1997. The UK and US expressedconcern that a deadline would imply that the roster would be closed and no names couldbe added. BENIN, among others, supported a date but said it should be later than 15 May.UZBEKISTAN, supported by the US, suggested that the deadline be included inparagraph 4, establishment and maintenance of roster. The Chair suggested 31 May 1997as the deadline. Delegates agreed to a re-ordered paragraph 4, based on a proposal byCHINA, requesting the Interim Secretariat to prepare a list of nominations received by 31May 1997 and to submit such a list to COP-1 for the establishment of the roster ofexperts, after review by the CST.

Chair Shibata closed the last meeting of Working Group II and expressed his gratitude toall for their flexibility and cooperation. EGYPT, supported by the UK, thanked the Chairand the Interim Secretariat for their time and efforts.

IN THE CORRIDORS

After countless attempts in formal sessions and failed informal consultations on thespecification in the rules of procedure (Rule 22, paragraph 1, and Rule 31) on the size andregional distribution of the COP Bureau, negotiators will send the issue to COP-1unresolved. Some have said that, as a consequence, the COP Chair will not be able toappoint a Bureau to assist him. Some delegates did not believe this presented a seriousproblem because the Chair can still organize and receive assistance from delegates notformally appointed to the Bureau, such as “friends of the Chair.” Other delegates thoughtthis situation would seriously hamper the work of COP-1. According to them, the numberof brackets contained in the texts forwarded to COP-1 suggest a laborious session.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: The Plenary is expected to meet today to adopt the report of INCD-10. Check the Journal for the time and place.

Participants

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