Daily report for 27 January 1994

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


Working Group I concluded its work for this session afterdiscussing Articles 21-23, as contained in A/AC.241/WG.I/ CRP.4,and revisiting Article 11, as redrafted by the African Group.

ARTICLE 21 -- CAPACITY BUILDING, EDUCATION AND PUBLICAWARENESS: Paragraph 1 lists a number of differentactivities that the Parties agree to promote. The followingsub-paragraphs still contain brackets:

  • 1(a) bis: Greece and Norway felt that its contents are covered in Articles 19 and 20. It remains bracketed and reads: "the strengthening of research capacity and information at the national level in the field of desertification and drought."
  • 1(b) generated debate over the "strengthening" or "creation" of "support" versus "extension" services for the conservation of "land and water" versus "natural" resources. These options are bracketed.
  • 1(f), on information collection, analysis and exchange, contains one bracketed phrase. The US wanted to include "cooperation as may be mutually agreed." Brazil thought this gives the impression that this sub-paragraph only deals with bilateral cooperation.

Paragraph 2: This paragraph says that Parties shall conducta review of available capacity and facilities at the local andnational levels as well as the potential for strengthening them.The US suggested that only affected "developing" country Partiesshould be required to do this. Portugal and Uzbekistan wanted todelete the term "developing." The last sentence, "The results ofsuch a review shall be included in national action programmes,"remains bracketed.

Paragraph 3 and its six sub-paragraphs list public awarenessand educational activities. Although China suggested deletingreference to working with NGOs in this context, Sweden arguedsuccessfully for its retention. Only sub-paragraph (d) stillcontains brackets around the usual phrase, "needing assistance."

Paragraph 4 still remains heavily bracketed. This paragraphestablishes either an international education and training centreor a network of regional training centres. Norway, the EU and theUS suggested deleting this paragraph, since the establishment ofsuch a body should be taken up at the first Conference of theParties. Several African delegates advocated a network of centres,rather than the establishment of a new one.

Paragraph 5 states that developed country Parties shallprovide financial support to enhance capacity building, educationand public awareness. The EU called for its deletion. Saudi Arabiaand Peru suggested moving this paragraph to Article 22 on financialresources.

ARTICLE 22 -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES: This article was notdiscussed. The Chair commented that everyone's position had beenexhaustively presented during the various stages of this discussionand it is unlikely that further progress can be made. As a result,Article 22 (and Article 21, paragraph 5) remains bracketed.

ARTICLE 23 -- FINANCIAL MECHANISMS: The EnvironmentalLiaison Centre International, on behalf of the NGOs, suggested thatthe phrase "developing country Parties shall establish nationalmechanisms," in paragraph 1, should be replaced by "Affectedcountry Parties needing assistance and country Parties in aposition to provide assistance shall establish NationalDesertification Trust Funds." Mali commented that the African Grouphas always asserted that three types of mechanisms are necessary:existing mechanisms, the establishment of a special mechanism fordesertification, and the horizon -- a fifth window in the GEF.Egypt proposed new language stressing the need for greatercoordination of aid resources at the national level.

A lengthy procedural discussion followed where delegates expressedconcern about what text they would consider in Geneva: Article 23as it now appears in CRP.4 or a revised version containing otheramendments and proposals submitted to the Secretariat. They finallyagreed to add some minor amendments submitted by the EU. The textwill otherwise be submitted as bracketed for consideration inGeneva.

ARTICLE 11 -- FIELDS TO BE COVERED IN NATIONAL ACTIONPROGRAMMES: The Working Group then returned to Article 11, asredrafted by the African Group. The new draft, which is clearer andmore concise than the version contained in the Secretariat's draft,contains a list of 11 fields to be included in national actionprogrammes. Brazil, supported by Mexico, commented that althoughthis is an improvement, this type of detail with respect to whatshould be included in the national action programmes should not beincorporated in the body of the Convention. At best, it should beincluded in an annex. China and Japan said that until the precisenature of the regional annexes is defined, discussion on thisarticle should be deferred. Finland added that if the regionalinstruments are short, technical and operational, Article 11 couldremain in the text of the Convention. Mali, on behalf of theAfrican Group, said that Article 11 is indispensable in the text.Canada and Sweden thought that a modified version could remain inthe text.

Several delegates made substantive comments, without prejudice tothe eventual placement of the article. Austria, supported by theUS, commented that paragraph (i) does not fit here as it would makethis Convention hostage to the Biodiversity Convention, since thosewho did not ratify the Biodiversity Convention would be unlikely toratify this one. The US wants to delete paragraph (b) on povertyeradication, (c) on pricing and fiscal policies and part of (d) onagricultural practices. Saudi Arabia amended (h) to eliminatereference to alternative sources of energy. The Holy See suggestedrephrasing (j) to remove reference to "population policies" and"family planning" and replace them with "national demographicpolicies" and "free and responsible planning of family size,"respectively. Further discussion was postponed until Geneva, whereArticle 11, as revised by the African Group, will be the startingpoint.

The Working Group then adopted its report, as contained in documentA/AC.241/WG.I/L.2. Since the report is purely procedural it waseasily adopted. Working Group I thus adjourned for the session.


The Working Group completed its second reading of the text onInstitutions and Procedures, as contained in documentsA/AC.241/WG.II/CRP.5 and CRP.6, respectively.

ARTICLE 24 -- CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES: Discussion resumedon sub-paragraph 2(k), however, delegates referred back tosub-paragraph 2(a). The final text reads: "[Periodically] [at eachordinary session,] review the implementation of the Convention andof the institutional arrangements on the basis of the evolution ofscientific and technological knowledge in light of the experiencegained in the national and international context."

Sub-paragraph 2(k) was amended as follows: "as appropriate, seekthe cooperation of and utilize the services of, and informationprovided by, competent intergovernmental and non-governmentalorganizations." A new paragraph stressing the promotion andstrengthening of the relationship with other relevant conventionswas adopted.

Sub-paragraph 2(i), which provides for the COP to undertake otherfunctions, now reads, "Exercise such other functions as may benecessary for the achievement of the objective of the Convention,as well as other functions assigned to it pursuant to theConvention."

Paragraph 3: Although the UK said this provision, whichcalls for the adoption of the rules of procedure, is similar tosub-paragraph 2(h), it was retained since both these provisionsexist in the Biodiversity Convention.

Paragraph 4, which was heavily bracketed, was adopted. Itprovides for the interim secretariat "referred to in Article 38" toconvene the first session of the COP. Also, "Unless the COP decidesotherwise, the second, third and fourth ordinary sessions shall beheld yearly and thereafter ordinary sessions shall take place everytwo years."

Paragraph 5 stipulates the requirements to convene anextraordinary meeting. The lengthy debate achieved no consensus onthe preference for a six- over a three-month written request; anda one-third over one-fourth support by Parties on any suchproposal. The Netherlands also objected to the Bureau, composed offive countries, being authorized to convene an extraordinarymeeting, unless it was likewise subjected to either a one-third orone-fourth majority support of the Parties. The African Grouppleaded for more time to consider these alternatives.

Paragraph 6 refers to the composition of the Bureau.Delegates are still not in agreement whether the composition byoffices or geographical distribution should be mentioned.

Paragraph 7: Cameroon suggested that granting observerstatus to national NGOs to the COP may result in an influx of NGOs.He proposed that reference to national NGOs be deleted, but the USrequested that the proposal be bracketed for consideration at thenext session.

ARTICLE 25 -- [PERMANENT SECRETARIAT]: No consensus wasreached on: the name of the institution; when its head isappointed; the location of the secretariat; whether a newsecretariat will be set up or located within an existing one; andthe secretariat's mandates to provide advice on programmemonitoring activities at local, national, sub-regional andinternational levels as well as facilitating the compilation andcommunication of information. Consensus was achieved on thesecretariat's administrative, report writing and coordinationfunctions, and others that may be determined by the COP, with fewamendments.

ARTICLE 26 -- [SUBSIDIARY BODY ON] SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL[ADVICE][ADVISORY] COUNCIL: Israel proposed the establishmentof a network of existing institutions with one member to bedesignated as the core, and which would establish a scientific andtechnological council to advise the COP. This proposal wassupported by several delegations. Greece, on behalf of the EU,requested that Articles 25-27 be retained in brackets, pendingfurther review. This proposal was supported by several delegationsand approved by the Chair. France noted that several of thesubsidiary bodies proposed in Articles 25-27 are top-heavy and donot necessarily reflect national needs. Several African countries,as well as Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, affirmed the importanceof the subsidiary bodies proposed in the text.


Paragraph 1 was revised to read: "Each Party shall communicate tothe Conference of the Parties, through the Secretariat, reports onthe measures which it has taken for the implementation of thisConvention. The Conference of Parties shall determine the timetablefor the submission of and the format of such reports forconsideration at the ordinary session." Paragraph 2 was revised toread: "Affected country Parties [needing assistance] shall providea detailed description of the action programmes adopted pursuant tothe present Convention and of any relevant information on theirimplementation." A new paragraph was created out of the originalparagraph 2 that reads: "Any group of affected country Parties[needing assistance] may make a joint communication on measurestaken at the regional and/or sub-regional levels in the frameworkof action programmes." Paragraph 3, which governs other affectedcountry Parties, was fully bracketed at the request of the US.

Paragraph 4, which deals with the reporting requirements ofdeveloped countries, was left in brackets. Paragraph 6 provides forthe COP's role in arranging for support to countries needingassistance. The US had proposed that this function be delegated tothe secretariat, in light of the infrequency of COP meetings.Several delegations reserved judgement on this proposal and theparagraph remains bracketed.

ARTICLE 29 -- MEASURES TO [RESOLVE QUESTIONS ON COMPLIANCE]PREVENT DISPUTES: The article was revised to read: "TheConference of Parties shall consider and adopt procedures andinstitutional mechanisms for the amicable solution of questions anddifferences of views that may arise [with regard to] compliance[with the Convention] on the implementation of the Convention."

The Chair deferred discussion of the remaining articles, includingArticle 17, until the fourth session.

ADOPTION OF THE REPORT: The Rapporteur, Frederick G. Mallya,presented his report, as contained in Document A/AC.241/WG.II/L.2.The report is divided into three parts: organization of work;discussion of topics; and adoption of the report. Mallya read outseveral amendments that will be incorporated in the finalizedversion of the report. The report was adopted, as orally amended.


PLENARY: The Plenary will convene for the final time thissession this afternoon at 3:00. The Plenary is expected to adoptthe provisional agenda for its fourth session as well as the report of the Committee on its third session. INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n willgive a closing statement outlining his thoughts on the final stagesof the negotiating process. The Secretariat is also expected tohave a revised version of the draft Convention ready fordelegations so that they will be able to work from it during the intersessional period.


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