Daily report for 25 January 1994

3rd Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification


Working Group I finished its second reading of the Preamble andthen discussed Article 1 bis and Articles 2-5, as contained inA/AC.241/WG.I/CRP.1 and CRP.2.

PREAMBLE: Paragraph 20 mentions the relationship among theobjectives of the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions anddesertification. Italy, Argentina and several African countriessupported its retention. Sweden and the UK disagreed. The paragraphremains bracketed.

Paragraph 21: The brackets were removed and the paragraphnow reads: "Believing that strategies to combat desertification andmitigate the effects of drought will be most effective if they arebased on sound systematic observation and rigorous scientificknowledge, and continuously reevaluated."

Paragraph 22: The brackets were removed and it now reads:"Determine to take appropriate actions in combating desertificationand mitigating the effects of drought, for the benefit of presentand future generations."

The US proposed a new paragraph that recognizes the key role ofinternational cooperation, donor coordination and the importance ofconsistency with national priorities.

ARTICLE 1 BIS -- SCOPE OF CONVENTION: Sweden, Norway andFinland called for its deletion, as it is not necessary. The Chairsuggested placing it in the Objectives section, but Senegalpreferred transferring it to the Definitions section. Mali, Nigerand C“te D'Ivoire wanted it to be retained as is. No agreement wasreached.

ARTICLE 2 -- OBJECTIVES: In paragraph 1, the Chair proposedthe following language: "The objective of this Convention is tocombat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought incountries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification,particularly in Africa, through effective action at all levelssupported by international cooperation [and partnershiparrangements] in the framework of an integrated approach, which isconsistent with Agenda 21 with a view to contributing to theachievement of sustainable development in affected areas."

Paragraph 2 focuses on related socio-economic issues. Whiledeveloped countries wanted to keep the focus on desertification,developing countries insisted that the social dimension is equallyimportant. The Chair proposed: "Achieving this objective shallinvolve long-term integrated strategies which focus simultaneouslyin affected and threatened areas, on improved productivity oflands, rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management ofland and water resources, leading to improved living conditions,particularly at the community level."

ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: This entire article remainsbracketed. Developed countries are opposed to inclusion of aprinciples section in a legally-binding instrument. Developingcountries argue that since both the Biodiversity and Climate ChangeConventions contain principles they should be retained here.

ARTICLE 4 -- GENERAL OBLIGATIONS: There was a lengthydiscussion on sub-paragraph 2(b), which addresses the economicenvironment in affected countries. The US, Sweden and the EU feltthis paragraph was beyond the scope of the Convention, as itaddresses trade, market conditions and exchange rates. Brazil,Argentina, Mali and Uganda argued for its retention. It remainsbracketed.

Sub-paragraph 2(c) was amended to read "integrate strategies forpoverty eradication into efforts to combat desertification andmitigate the effects of drought."

Sub-paragraph 2(d) generated debate on whether it should promotecooperation among "affected developing country Parties" or all"affected Parties." It now reads: "promote cooperation amongaffected country Parties in the field of environmental protection,land management and conservation of land and water resources, asthey relate to desertification and drought." Algeria, on behalf ofthe G-77, announced that it will reformulate several paragraphs,including 2(g) and (h). As a result, they remain bracketed.

ARTICLE 5 -- OBLIGATIONS OF AFFECTED COUNTRY PARTIES: In thechapeau, there was disagreement whether affected countries have a"special responsibility" or a "critical role" in combattingdesertification and mitigating the effects of drought. Bothformulations remain bracketed.

The brackets in paragraph (a) were removed. It now reads: "give duepriority to combating desertification and mitigating the effects ofdrought, and allocate adequate resources in accordance with theirconditions and capabilities," as proposed by Ethiopia. Paragraph(b) now reads: "establish strategies and priorities within theframework of national sustainable development policies and plans tocombat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought."

Delegates agreed that 5(c) should focus on removing the underlyingcauses of desertification and 5(d) should focus on promoting publicparticipation, as proposed by Brazil and Niger. The new formulationof (c) is: "address the underlying causes of desertification andpaying special attention to the socio-economic factors contributingto desertification processes." 5(d) now reads: "promote awarenessand facilitate participation of local populations, in particularwomen and youth, with the support of NGOs, in efforts to combatdesertification and mitigate the effects of drought."

Austria called for the deletion of paragraph (e) in light of itslack of substance. The paragraph had asked governments tostrengthen existing legislation and establish new laws.


Working Group II completed its first reading of the text with areview of Articles 40 and 41.

ARTICLE 40 -- RESERVATIONS: There was discussion on Benin'sproposal to add a reference to the fact that neither reservationsnor exceptions could be made to the Convention. The original textonly refers to reservations. Further discussion is required.

ARTICLE 41 -- WITHDRAWALS: Paragraph 1 in this articleallows for the withdrawal after [two] [three] years after entryinto force. The EU preferred the two year period while the AfricanGroup preferred three. No agreement was reached. Paragraph 2, whichrefers to when such withdrawal can take effect, was adopted adreferendum. Benin proposed the addition of a new paragraph toread "withdrawal shall not exempt the withdrawing parties fromobserving the obligations they may have made under the presentConvention in the execution of projects." The EU requested that itbe bracketed.

The Working Group then addressed Document A/AC.241/WG.II/CRP.1.

ARTICLE 1 -- USE OF TERMS: The Working Group found itdifficult to achieve consensus on the terms covered in Paragraph1(a),(b), (c),(d) and (h) -- desertification, drought, landdegradation, arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas as well ascombating desertification. A contact group chaired by Egypt was setup to deal with these sections. New text based on the discussionsof the contact group was circulated Tuesday evening.

Sub-paragraphs 1(e),(f) and (g): The Secretariat announcedthat it would list, based on objective criteria, the following:affected countries; countries needing assistance; and countries ina position to provide assistance. Delegates noted the inherentproblems in drawing up such a list.

Paragraph 2 establishes an information glossary for theConvention. The US questioned the utility of the glossary and itsrelationship to the Scientific and Technological Council, and itwas left in brackets until the section on institutions isdiscussed.

ARTICLE 20 -- TRANSFER, ACQUISITION, AND ADAPTATION ANDDEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY: Paragraph 1 states requirements ofParties in facilitating the transfer, acquisition and adaptation oftechnology. There was no consensus on the amended text.

Sub-paragraph 1(a) refers to the need to fully utilizeexisting institutions in this process. The amended text was adoptedad referendum.

Sub-paragraph 1(b) refers to facilitating access totechnology to developing countries on favorable terms. The EUproposed deletion of the reference to "assess the cost and benefitsof available technology," but there was no consensus. The bracketswere retained.

Sub-paragraph 1(c) refers to facilitating technologycooperation among affected country parties needing assistance.Brazil requested brackets around the term "affected country partiesneeding assistance," and noted that reference should be made toother ways of facilitating technological cooperation.

Sub-paragraph 1(d) refers to measures to be taken to createconducive conditions for the transfer of technology. Chinarequested deletion of the reference to commercial technology. TheUS proposed "knowledge including measures to ensure the adequateand efficient protection of intellectual property rights," whichwas bracketed.

Sub-paragraph 1(e) refers to joint research programmes. Thetwo options provided have been retained in brackets. A third,proposed by Egypt, which merges the other two paragraphs, wasbracketed.

Sub-paragraph 1(f) refers to extending technologicalcooperation to sectors that can provide alternative livelihoods.Reference to the utilization of biodiversity and genetic resourcesgenerated heated debate but was finally bracketed for considerationagainst 1(c).

Paragraph 2 calls for Parties "to give special attention tothe protection, promotion and use of traditional and indigenoustechnology." The US was opposed to its retention, preferring todelete the phrase "special attention to."

Sub-paragraph 2(a) governs the creation of inventories oftechnology and know-how. Brazil stressed the importance ofprotecting the right of indigenous technology. Brazil will providenew text to this effect.

Paragraph 3 states that provisions for carrying outcooperation will be included in the regional implementationannexes. Greece requested retaining the brackets, as regionalannexes are yet to be discussed.

ARTICLE 19 -- RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: In paragraph 1 onpromoting scientific and technical cooperation there was debatewhether existing national and international institutions or newones should be used for these purposes. Several new formulationswere proposed, but the text still contains brackets.

The brackets in 1(a), which mentions research activitiescontributing increased knowledge of the processes leading todesertification and drought, and (b), which addresses the specificneeds of local populations, were removed.

In 1(c) discussion focused on the appropriate terminology toexpress traditional and indigenous knowledge. Several Africandelegates expressed concern that although "indigenous" was used inthe Biodiversity Convention it is not appropriate here. It remainsbracketed.

Delegates agreed to delete sub-paragraph (f) on socio-economicresearch and retain (d), on national and sub-regional researchcapabilities, in brackets. 1(e) stresses the need to carry outresearch that covers the relationship between poverty anddesertification. This led to a heated debate, as several delegateswanted it to specify "where relevant, the relationship betweenpoverty and desertification." There was no consensus.

Paragraph 2 addresses research priorities for particular regionsand sub-regions. The paragraph was bracketed until sections onregional annexes and institutions are resolved.

ARTICLE 18 -- INFORMATION COLLECTION, ANALYSIS AND EXCHANGE:Discussion was based on an advance copy of documentA/AC.241/WG.II/CRP.4. The delegates were only able to discuss thechapeau to paragraph 1 and sub-paragraphs (a) and (a)(i) and(a)(ii).

Paragraph 1 provides the general short- and long-termobligations of Parties to ensure the systematic observation of landdegradation in affected areas. There was consensus to retain theinitial paragraph with a few amendments, with additional text fromthe new paragraph that was left in brackets as the EU wanted moretime to consider the proposal. The other unresolved problem iswhether to use the term "to assess" instead of "to monitor," whichin negotiating previous conventions posed a problem to the formerSoviet Union.

Sub-paragraph 1(a), which relates to the establishment of aglobal network to facilitate information exchange, was bracketeduntil the new texts that both China and the US had proposed couldbe provided for consideration.

Sub-paragraph 1(a)(i), which states the need to usecompatible standards and systems in information collection,exchange and monitoring, underwent several changes based onAustralia's amendment and modified by Benin. The latter's proposalwas maintained.

Sub-paragraph 1(a)(ii) indicates the extent of datacollection, including meteorological and climatological data fromstations. Belgium proposed text that was agreeable to all exceptCameroon, who wants data collection from remote stations specified.This discussion will continue Wednesday.


WORKING GROUP I: Working Group I will continue its review ofdocument A/AC.241/WG.I/CRP.2 this morning. Discussions will beginwith Article 6, Obligations of [developed] country Parties [andothers in a position to provide assistance].

WORKING GROUP II: The Group will begin discussion on theregional instrument for Africa this morning. The second reading ofArticles 18 (Information collection, analysis and exchange), 24(Institutions), and Part V (Procedures) will continue at 6:00 pm.Look for new text circulated by the Secretariat on "Use of terms,"based on the results of the Contact Group chaired by Egypt.


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