Report of main proceedings for 7 June 1994

5th Session of the the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification

INFORMAL PLENARY

The informal Plenary, under the chairmanship of Bo Kjell‚n,discussed the bracketed text in 14 articles during the course ofthe day. As a result of these discussions, agreement was reachedand 13 sets of brackets in four articles were deleted. Bracketsstill remains in 13 of these articles, pending furtherconsultations.

ARTICLE 16 -- INFORMATION COLLECTION, ANALYSIS AND EXCHANGE:Ethiopia reported back on the consultations on sub-paragraph (g)(exchange of information on local and traditional knowledge). Theissue is whether this exchange of information is subject tonational legislation and/or policies. Consultations will continue.

ARTICLE 19 -- CAPACITY BUILDING, EDUCATION AND PUBLICAWARENESS: In sub-paragraph 1(f) (appropriate training andtechnology in the use of alternative energy sources), Saudi Arabiasuggested deleting reference to renewable energy resources. Benin,the EU, Australia, Armenia, Mali, Mongolia, Norway, the US andColombia supported the existing sub-paragraph. The Chair askedSaudi Arabia to consult with Benin on this matter.

ARTICLE 22 -- CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES: Delegates agreed toprovisionally remove the brackets from sub-paragraph 2(f), whichreads "adopt amendments to the Convention in accordance withArticles 30 and 31," pending the outcome of discussions on Article31. Agreement was reached on paragraph 5 (extraordinary meetings)to delete the bracketed text. In paragraph 6 (structure of theBureau), delegates agreed to delete the brackets around the textthat ensures adequate representation of those countries affected bydrought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.

In paragraph 8 (criteria for the implementation of Article 18),Mexico, Bolivia and Brazil wanted to retain the paragraph, whilethe US, Canada and Australia supported its deletion. Delegatesagreed to further discuss this issue in conjunction with Ethiopia'sconsultations on Article 16, since both deal with the benefitsderived from the use of local and traditional knowledge.

ARTICLE 23 -- [PERMANENT] SECRETARIAT: The Secretariatreported that, according to the UN Legal Office, it does not matterlegally if the secretariat is referred to as "permanent." The G-77and China insisted on retaining "permanent." The EU, Norway andJapan favored its deletion. Canada, the US, and Australia saidthey could accept either formulation. No agreement was reached.

The brackets in sub-paragraph 2(b) were deleted and it now reads"to compile and transmit reports submitted to it." Agreement wasalso reached on 2(c), which now reads: "to facilitate assistance toaffected developing country Parties...in the compilation andcommunication of information required in accordance with theprovisions of the Convention."

ARTICLE 24 -- ADVISORY PANEL ON RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT orSCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVISORY COUNCIL: There are twoversions of Article 24 in the text. The first creates a panel ofexperts in fields relevant to desertification and drought selectedby the COP. The latter creates a council open to all Parties. TheG-77 and China wanted to defer further discussion. Australia, theUS, the EU and Canada supported the first option. Brazil arguedthat all countries interested in participating should be allowedto. The Chair warned against establishment of a bureaucraticstructure. Israel stressed the need for independent scientificadvice. The Chair asked Egypt to hold consultations.

ARTICLE 25 -- NETWORKING OF EXISTING INSTITUTIONS, AGENCIES ANDBODIES: Delegates agreed to delete the bracketed phrase inparagraph 2 ("their personnel and facilities"), since this isinherent in the reference to institutions. They agreed on paragraph4, which now reads: "This networking shall support theimplementation of the Convention."

ARTICLE 26 -- COMMUNICATION OF INFORMATION: The bracketsremain in paragraph 1 (communication of information), pendingfurther G-77 consultations. Delegates agreed on paragraph 2, whichnow reads "Affected country Parties shall provide a description ofthe strategies adopted pursuant to Article 5 of thisConvention...." After a circular debate, discussion of paragraphs3 and 5 was deferred until categories of countries are addressed.

ARTICLE 27 -- MEASURES TO RESOLVE QUESTIONS ON[COMPLIANCE][IMPLEMENTATION]: Since this article is closelylinked to Article 26, paragraph 1, the G-77 and China requestedmore time for consultations.

ARTICLE 28 -- SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES: Delegates agreed toremove the brackets in sub-paragraph 2(a) and amend paragraph 6,which state that the COP will set up arbitration procedures as soonas practicable.

ARTICLE 31 -- ADOPTION AND AMENDMENT OF ANNEXES: Delegatesagreed that the UK will coordinate consultations on the adoptionand amendment of annexes.

ARTICLE 35 -- RATIFICATION, ACCEPTANCE, APPROVAL ANDACCESSION: Paragraph 4 (additional regional implementationannexes) will also be discussed in the UK's consultations.

ARTICLE 27 -- ENTRY INTO FORCE: There was still no agreementon the number of ratifications necessary for entry into force. TheG-77 and Israel supported 30 ratifications. Egypt pointed out thatif a lower number is used, there must be assurance that allcontinents are represented, otherwise "we could have an orchestrawith only flute players." Uzbekistan agreed, since countriesneeding assistance will probably ratify first and the Conventionwill be impossible to implement if the other countries do notratify it. The US supported 40 or 50 ratifications.

ARTICLE 38 -- RESERVATIONS: At the conclusion of the Genevasession, it was agreed to delete reference to exceptions, but keepthe remaining text ("No reservations may be made to thisConvention.") in brackets. The US wanted this to be deleted. TheG-77 disagreed. Nothing was resolved.

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION ANNEX

Negotiations began for the first time on the draft regionalimplementation annex for Latin America and the Caribbean, under thechairmanship of Anne de Lattre (France). It was decided that thedraft text submitted by the Latin America and Caribbean Group(A/AC.241/CRP.11) in Geneva would serve as the basis fornegotiation. Article 1 (purpose of the annex) was accepted withoutdiscussion. References at the beginning of Article 2 to theparticular conditions of the region, which the EU felt wererepetitive of the main body of the Convention, were bracketed.Sub-paragraph (a) (scope and magnitude of the problem) was acceptedwith "very temporary" brackets around "cumulative and intensifyingprocess," pending new wording from Peru. The EU suggested replacingsub-paragraph (b) (causes of the problem in the region) with mostof sub-paragraph (b) the Secretariat's text (A/AC.241/24). It wasagreed to use the entire paragraph as a substitution with thechange to reflect that markets are "disturbed" and not "distorted"by various factors.

In Article 3 (programmes of action), discussion focused on whethercountries "must," "shall," "may" or "shall as appropriate" prepareand implement national programmes. Canada, supported by the EU,suggested including paragraph 2 of Article 3 from the Secretariatdraft, which includes local communities and NGOs in a consultativeand participatory process. The Group then adjourned for lunch.

INFORMAL NEGOTIATING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION ANNEX

The Group began negotiations on the African Annex at 3:00 pm underthe chairmanship of Ren‚ Val‚ry Mongbe (Benin). It was agreed thatonly bracketed text would be addressed.

ARTICLE 2 -- PURPOSE: Brackets remain around the referenceto assistance that is to be provided by developed, other countryParties, and Parties in a position to do so. Benin, on behalf ofthe African Group, proposed that discussion on this issue bedeferred until categories of countries are resolved. The EU,opposed by Benin, proposed weaker language that would replace "tobe provided" with "that may be provided." The UK added that themain Convention does not specify the precise arrangements andnature of assistance to be provided. Benin responded that it wasprecisely the role of the regional annexes to provide greaterspecificity to the general obligations in the Convention. Noagreement was reached.

ARTICLE 4 -- [COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF AFRICAN COUNTRYPARTIES]: The EU proposed deletion of the brackets around"shall aim" in the chapeau of paragraph 1. He also proposed removalof the brackets around "aim to" in paragraph 2, which refers to theobligations of African country Parties. The EU added that if theseproposals were accepted, they could accept removal of the bracketsaround the entire article. Benin, supported by the US, noted thatthe African countries prefer the term "undertake" instead of "aimto" to ensure that concrete action is taken. The US furtherproposed that sub-paragraphs 1(a) (combatting desertification as acentral strategy to eradicate poverty) and 1(e) (droughtcontingency plans) should be moved to paragraph 2. Benin questionedthe rationale, arguing that these sub-paragraphs belong inparagraph 1, which sets out undertakings, as opposed to thecommitments outlined in paragraph 2. The UK questioned theappropriateness of requiring African country Parties insub-paragraph (c) to mobilize new and additional national financialresources. He felt this was an undertaking to which few countriescould adhere. The Chair requested the US, the EU and Benin, underthe chair of Japan, to produce compromise text for Article 4.

ARTICLE 5 -- COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRYPARTIES: In sub-paragraph 1(a) (access to financial andtechnological resources), the EU, supported by the US and Canada,added reference to "mutually agreed terms and in accordance withnational laws and policies." The Chair felt that the EU proposalwas repetitive of Article 18 in the Convention. In sub-paragraph(b), the US, supported by many Northern countries, expressedserious concerns with the requirement to allocate a higherpercentage of ODA to desertification. Many cited conceptualproblems, and noted the difficulties in tracking the proportionthat is applied to desertification, as well as difficulties incalculating the increases in aid. The US proposed alternativelanguage that referred instead to efforts to increase thepercentage of overall assistance by working with African countriesto ensure positive results of anti-desertification investments. TheChair requested a contact group, chaired by the US, to producecompromise language.

ARTICLE 7 -- [TIMETABLE FOR PREPARATION OF ACTIONPROGRAMMES]: The EU felt the timetable was too optimistic, andsuggested reference to "start" instead of "finalize" preparation ofaction programmes. Japan suggested deletion of the entire article,citing legal problems with the language. Austria proposed "workout" and the US suggested "elaborate."

IN THE CORRIDORS

There were informal consultations on the draft text on financialresources and mechanisms (A/AC.241/L.19) during the lunch break onTuesday. Initial reaction to this document, which was prepared byPierre-Marc Johnson and Bolong Sonko after consultations with manydelegations, was positive. While there appears to be no clearconsensus on the proposals themselves, there is agreement to usethis text as the basis for further negotiations. Positions will befurther elaborated when discussions begin on this document inPlenary.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

INFORMAL PLENARY: The Plenary will reconvene in an informalsession at 10:30 am in Conference Room XII. Delegates will firstdiscuss the bracketed text in Article 39 and then review theremaining bracketed text in the Convention that does not relate tofinance, principles, institutions or categories of countries. At3:00 pm, the Plenary will discuss financial resources andmechanisms (A/AC.241/L.19), under the chairmanship of Pierre-MarcJohnson and Bolong Sonko. At 6:00 pm, Kjell‚n will take the chairand the Plenary will review its progress to date and determine theprogramme of work for the rest of the week. Afterwards, the Plenaryis expected to discuss the proposals on categories of countries(A/AC.241/L.18).

INFORMAL NEGOTIATING GROUP ON THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEANANNEX: The Group will convene at 10:30 am to continuenegotiations on Article 3.

INFORMAL NEGOTIATING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN ANNEX: TheNegotiating Group for the African Annex will convene at 3:00 pm tocontinue negotiations.

IN THE CORRIDORS: Despite the G-77's concern aboutproliferation of meetings, there will be numerous informalconsultations today. Consultations on the scientific advisorypanel/council (Article 24), coordinated by Egypt, will meet at 8:00am and, possibly, 1:00 pm. Consultations on legal matters (Articles30, 31 and 35) will be coordinated by the UK at 6:00 pm, inparallel to Plenary. The contact group on Article 5 of the AfricanAnnex will meet at 2:00 pm.

Look for a paper to be circulated today with the Chair's proposalfor a draft resolution on interim measures.

Participants

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

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