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Daily report for 14 January 1997

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

Working Group I met briefly in the morning, to allow more time for the core group tocontinue consultations on the Global Mechanism (GM), and informally in the afternoon,to consider the progress of negotiations. Working Group II met in the afternoon toconsider draft decisions for the Conference of the Parties (COP) on issues related to therules of procedure and scientific and technological cooperation.


Chair Mahmoud ould El Ghaouth recalled that decisions have to be made by the Group atthis Session on the outstanding issues of: the GM; the designation of the PermanentSecretariat; programme and budget; and financial rules. He encouraged delegates to try toresolve the latter three and not leave them pending until the GM issue is resolved. TheChair then announced that the Group’s work would be postponed and concluded onThursday. He quickly adjourned the meeting to allow for the core group that began workon Monday, 13 January, to continue negotiating the GM’s function of mobilizing andchannelling resources.

The informal working group met briefly in the afternoon for a progress report onnegotiations on the Global Mechanism and the administrative arrangements for thePermanent Secretariat. The Chair reported that the core group had not completed its workand that it would continue to meet for the rest of the afternoon and report back at 6:00 pmon Wednesday, 15 January. The meeting was suspended for half an hour and reconvenedfor the discussion on administrative arrangements for the Permanent Secretariat.

DESIGNATION OF A PERMANENT SECRETARIAT AND ARRANGEMENTSFOR ITS FUNCTIONING: ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS: The informalworking group met for less than three minutes. The Chair reported that no agreement hadbeen reached on the informal consultations on paragraph 3 of the Chair’s draft decision,circulated Thursday, 10 January. The paragraph refers to the Permanent Secretariat of theConvention being institutionally linked to either the UN or UNEP, “while not being fullyintegrated to the work programme and management structure of any particular departmentor programme.” The Chair urged delegates to continue with the informal consultations onthe subject, and expressed hope that consensus could be reached by Wednesday evening.


The Group met in the afternoon to consider draft decisions emanating from its work atthis session, A/AC.241/WG.II(X)/L.1-6.

Document L.1 (Rules of procedure of the Conference of the Parties), which now containsan additional rule, was adopted with the amendment that the number of the document thatwill contain the final decision will be left blank so that an amendment can be made orallyin the INCD Plenary when all, or parts, of the outstanding issues in Rule 6, paragraph 1,Rule 22, paragraph 1, Rule 31 and Rule 47, paragraph 1, have been sorted out. Resultsfrom informal consultations on these issues were expected to emerge.

Document L.2 (Committee on Science and Technology: reports on modalities and timingof future work on inventories of research, traditional and local technology, knowledge,know-how and practices and on the establishment of research priorities) was adoptedwithout comment.

Document L.3 (Report on work of other bodies performing work similar to that envisagedfor the Committee on Science and Technology) was adopted without comment.

Document L.4 (Report on work being done on benchmarks and indicators) was adoptedwith amendments. The UK proposed references to: the valuable assistance provided bythe competent organizations already working on this topic; the Interim Secretariatcontinuing the “facilitation of” work on benchmarks and indicators; participation of“competent organizations, regional and/or subregional groups and interested INCDmembers;” and putting “emphasis on the further elaboration of implementation indicatorsand the development of a methodology for determining impact indicators.” NIGER calledfor a reference to the pre-established programme of work for the group. CANADA addeda reference to NGO participation in the consultation process. BENIN and CHINA did notsupport calling for the Interim Secretariat’s “facilitation of” work, and the UK did notinsist. Delegates agreed to note that participation would be by interested members of theCommittee from any regional or subregional group and competent governmental andnon-governmental groups.

SOUTH AFRICA noted the importance of the bottom-up approach and supported theNGO proposal calling for a small working group on local area development. The groupwould work in the same manner as the group on benchmarks and indicators and begin todevelop a survey for input to the CST. The Chair stated that if a group is established,participants would have to pay for it, which is why an informal consultative process hasbeen used for benchmarks and indicators. He thought the NGO proposal was for the CSTto deliberate at its first meeting. The UK also suggested that the proposal should bediscussed at the first session of the CST, and noted that L.2 invites members to makewritten submissions on, among others, inventories of traditional and local technology andknowledge, for discussion at that session.

Document L.5 (Committee on Science and Technology: work to be undertaken onnetworking of institutions, agencies and bodies) contains four parts: the draft decision ofINCD-10; a recommended decision for COP-1 to adopt; the terms of reference for workto be undertaken on networking of institutions; and a list of organizations that could beasked to draft proposals for conducting the networking survey.

UGANDA questioned the wisdom of the INCD recommending a draft decision for COP-1 to adopt. He stated that the list of organizations is not exhaustive and asked what theimplications would be for other organizations if the list were adopted. The Secretariatnoted that the terms of reference and the list of organizations contain recommendationsfrom INCD members. The UK agreed it is premature to decide on a draft for the COP toadopt. She noted that the terms of reference proposed would not be the final ones, butmay be reconsidered based on the proposals submitted by the bidding organizations. Shealso stated that the disadvantage of a long list of organizations is that the group wouldhave to look at a large number of proposals. A number of new organizations weresuggested, including the OSS (Mauritania) and CILSS (Senegal). MEXICO suggestedthat the organization selected “develop a database with the possibility of remoteconsultation using infrastructure that already exists.” He noted that such a database isbeing developed in the Latin American and Caribbean region. SOUTH AFRICA andBENIN suggested that regional groups should be given time to consult prior to taking adecision on L.5, and the Group adjourned.


Despite numerous pleas from Working Group II’s Chair during the first week and aninformal consultation on Monday of the second week, delegates in the Group haveseemed reluctant to resolve the issue of the composition of the Bureau in the rules ofprocedure of the Conference of the Parties (COP). Although the issue has several facets, apossible solution may yet emerge on this intricate matter. According to some delegates, apossible agreement might be for eleven COP Bureau members (nine Vice-Chairpersons,Rule 22, paragraph 1) if it is stated in Rule 31 that subsidiary bodies’ bureaus would havefive members (four Vice-Chairpersons). Some also suggested there is agreement to leaveout the bracketed text stating that “every geographical region shall be represented by atleast two members” (Rule 22, paragraph 1), since there is a reference to equitablegeographical distribution in the already agreed, unbracketed text. They suggested thatthese solutions, however, depend on the deletion of the reference to ensuring “adequaterepresentation of affected Country Parties in regions referred to in the implementationannexes of the Convention.” Some delegates indicated that if that text could not bedeleted, negotiations would be back to square one.


The core group discussing the Global Mechanism (GM) continued negotiations all dayand into the evening. Canada’s Pierre-Marc Johnson, who, with Bolong Sonko of theGambia, co-chaired the difficult negotiations on the GM before the CCD was adopted atINCD-5, returned to INCD negotiations and was promptly made Chair of the core group.In the morning, various proposals from different regional groups were not accepted byothers, which was reported to have generated a discussion on whether the GM could fundimplementation or not. No consensus was reached in this discussion, which also becamethe basis on which proposals from the different groups were assessed. Although by earlyafternoon some delegates expressed doubt about the possibility of reaching agreement, inthe evening they felt that progress was being made. Agreement was reported to have beenreached for one of the outstanding paragraphs.


Discussion on the Chair’s draft decision on administrative arrangements for thedesignation of the Permanent Secretariat was postponed twice, due to informalnegotiations that have been going on for two days. The text in question relates to theproposal to not have the Permanent Secretariat fully integrated into the work programmeand management structure of any particular department or programme of the hostinstitution. Legal experts argued that, while this language was adopted in the conventionson climate change (FCCC) and biodiversity (CBD), the relationship between theSecretariat and its institutional host (the UN or UNEP, respectively) had to be revisited atlater meetings of the COP. By the late afternoon, alternative text that was drafted throughinformal consultations was reportedly acceptable to the negotiators.


PLENARY: The Plenary is expected to meet at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm to hearapproximately 40 country reports on Urgent Action for Africa and Interim Actions in theAsian, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern Mediterranean regions.

WORKING GROUP I: The informal working group will convene at 6:00 pm fora report on the informal consultations on the GM and administrative arrangements for thePermanent Secretariat.

WORKING GROUP II: The Working Group is expected to meet in theafternoon to continue its consideration of draft decisions.

NGO PRESENTATION: Dr. Walter Menicocci of the Panamerican-PanafricanAssociation will make a presentation on combatting desertification by improving soilfertility and recovering organic waste through earthworm technology at 2:30 pm inConference Room 9.