Report of main proceedings for 8 June 1994

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

INFORMAL PLENARY

The informal Plenary completed a second reading of the bracketedtext of the Convention that does not relate to finance, categoriesof countries, principles or institutions. Following this reading,brackets still remain in ten articles.

ARTICLE 39 -- WITHDRAWAL: Developing country delegatesagreed to delete paragraph 3 (meeting obligations and commitmentsafter withdrawal), provided that in paragraph 1 Parties canwithdraw from the Convention any time after three years from thedate the Convention enters into force for a Party.

ARTICLE 11 -- SUBREGIONAL AND REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES:The EU agreed to maintain the reference to "regional" in the titleand the article.

ARTICLE 17 -- RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: There was consensusthat the word "existing" before "international institutions" shouldbe deleted in paragraph 1 (promoting scientific and technologicalcooperation).

ARTICLE 23 -- PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: The EU and Japan agreedto remove the brackets around "Permanent."

ARTICLE 25 -- NETWORKING OF INSTITUTIONS, AGENCIES ANDBODIES: Delegates agreed to delete the word "existing," whichhad appeared before "institutions" in the title, provided"existing" was retained in paragraph 1.

ARTICLE 26 -- COMMUNICATION OF INFORMATION: In paragraph 1(communication of reports), it was agreed to communicate reports onthe measures taken for the "implementation of this Convention."Agreement was also reached on paragraph 5, which now states thatinformation on the provision of financial resources should beincluded.

ARTICLE 27 -- MEASURES TO RESOLVE QUESTIONS OF IMPLEMENTATION:It was agreed to delete reference to "compliance" and use theterm "implementation" in both the title and text.

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON FINANCE

The Co-Chairs, Pierre-Marc Johnson and Bolong Sonko, opened theinformal discussion by explaining that A/AC.241/L.19 is the resultof approximately 50-60 hours of consultations, which began atINCD-4. Although this paper may not satisfy everyone's concerns, itcould serve as the basis for negotiations. The floor was firstopened for general comments. In a lengthy intervention, Algeria, onbehalf of the Group of 77 and China, regretted that Article 6(obligations of developed country Parties) was not included inL.19, since finance cannot be discussed separate from developedcountry obligations. He re-introduced the G-77 and China's documentdated 30 March 1994, which includes proposals on Articles 6, 20 and21. He reiterated the Group's position on: new and additionalfinancial resources; clear, specific and precise commitments bydeveloped countries; Agenda 21 as the basis for all financediscussions; and a global financial mechanism.

One by one the developed countries responded, stressing theirfinancial commitments and the need for better coordination andefficiency at the local, national, regional and sub-regionallevels. The US said that all multilateral, bilateral and otheranti-desertification assistance together totals US$2-3 billion.Japan said that its bilateral and multilateral assistance to Africais US$1.5 billion. France added that 6% of its ODA to Africa goesto combatting desertification. Mali responded that the last OECDreport says that only 1% of ODA is devoted to combattingdesertification, while approximately 14,000 hectares of land arelost to desertification each year. Egypt added that the incomeforegone worldwide due to desertification is US$42.3 billion. NGOsreiterated their call for national desertification trust funds.

Despite the Co-Chairs' efforts to initiate a substantive discussionon Articles 20 and 21, the meeting degenerated into an hour-longprocedural debate. G-77 countries and China refused to discussArticles 20 and 21 unless Article 6 was also discussed. Franceargued that if Article 6 is to be discussed here, the obligationsof developing countries should also be considered. While many OECDcountries urged the meeting to address matters of substance, onlyCanada offerred specific comments on the text. He called forgreater balance in the obligations of developed and developingcountries and the need for multiple sources of funding. Long afterit appeared as if the meeting was going nowhere, the Co-Chairsadjourned the meeting and announced they would discuss this matterwith the Bureau.

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

The discussions, which were chaired by Anne de Lattre, were basedon document A/AC.241/CRP.11, submitted by Chile, with referencesmade to the Secretariat's document, A/AC.241/24.

ARTICLE 3 -- PROGRAMMES OF ACTION: Delegates agreed thataffected parties "shall prepare, as appropriate," national actionprogrammes to combat desertification and/or mitigate the effects ofdrought. Canada's proposal on the participation of localcommunities and NGOs, although supported by the European Union andAustralia, was referred to an informal group. The EU proposed thefollowing compromise language for consideration by the informalgroup: "In the preparation of their national action programmes, theaffected country Parties in the region, shall pay particularattention to Article 10, paragraph 2 sub-paragraph (f) of theConvention."

ARTICLE 4 -- CONTENT OF THE NATIONAL PROGRAMMES: The chapeaunow reads: "In the light of their own situation, affected countryParties in the region, may take account, inter alia, of thefollowing thematic issues in developing their national strategiesfor action to combat desertification and/or mitigate the effects ofdrought in accordance with Article 5 of the Convention."Sub-paragraph (c) underscores the need to achieve food security andsustainable development and management of agricultural activities.Sub-paragraph (f) provides for the "rational management andconservation of soil, land and water resources." Sub-paragraph (l)provides for "establishing and strengthening" of institutional andlegal frameworks.

ARTICLE 5 -- TECHNICAL, SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICALCOOPERATION: Sub-paragraphs (c) and (e) are still unresolved.The chapeau now lists, as a basis for action, the relevant articlesof the Convention and the coordinating "mechanisms" in Article 7.Sub-paragraph (a) calls for the promotion and strengthening oftechnical cooperation networks, as appropriate." Sub-paragraph (c)will be amended to refer to Article 18 of the Convention and nowreads, "promote the use and equitable and balanced sharing ofbenefits from traditional and indigenous knowledge and know-how."Sub-paragraph (d) calls for country Parties to "identify" therequirements in the transfer of technology. Several amendments wereproposed for sub-paragraph (e) (technology transfer), which wasreferred to the informal working group.

The informal group, coordinated by the Latin American Group, wasasked to address the outstanding issues.

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION ANNEX

ARTICLE 2 -- PURPOSE: Consensus was reached onsub-paragraph (a), which now reads: "identify measures andarrangements, including the nature and processes of assistanceprovided by developed country Parties, in accordance with therelevant provisions of the Convention."

ARTICLE 4 -- COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF AFRICAN COUNTRYPARTIES: The group, tasked with the choice of verbs forparagraphs 1 and 2, decided to use "undertake" in paragraph 1 and"shall aim to" in paragraph 2.

ARTICLE 5 -- COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRYPARTIES: The contact group agreed to the following: "continueto allocate significant resources and/or increase resources tocombat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought."Sub-paragraph (c) now reads: "assist them in strengtheningcapacities to enable them to improve their institutional framework,as well as their scientific and technical capabilities, informationcollection and analysis and research and development for thepurpose of combatting desertification and mitigating the effects ofdrought."

ARTICLE 7 -- TIMETABLE FOR PREPARATION OF ACTION PROGRAMMES:Japan reiterated its concerns regarding the contradiction ofsetting out an obligation before the Convention actually comes intoforce. Benin reminded delegates that the thrust of the article isto enable countries to finalize action programmes in the interimperiod. Discussion was deferred pending the discussion on interimmeasures.

ARTICLE 9 -- PREPARATION OF NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES ANDIMPLEMENTATION AND EVALUATION INDICATORS: Benin reported thatthe African group had submitted shorter text in response to theconcerns of many delegates. There was general support for the newtext, although it was agreed that a contact group will ensureconsistent language between the English and French texts.

ARTICLE 12 -- PREPARATION OF SUB-REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES:Benin suggested deleting this article since its contents arecovered elsewhere. The US proposed alternative wording: "aconsultative process shall include review of nationalimplementation and evaluation indicators to promote maximumcomparability and consistency within the sub-region." Discussionwas deferred, pending the outcome of Article 20.

ARTICLE 13 -- ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR REGIONAL ACTIONPROGRAMMES: Benin proposed deletion of the brackets inparagraph 1 (delegation of responsibilities to regionalorganizations). The EU, opposed by Benin, proposed that Articles 13and 14 be replaced with Article 14(a) in the Secretariat's text.Canada supported the EU, and noted that many of the elements inArticle 14 are coordination activities that do not necessarilyrequire formal programmes. Discussion was deferred.

ARTICLE 15 -- STRENGTHENING OF ACTIVITIES OF UNITED NATIONS ANDOTHER INSTITUTIONS IN THE FIELD OF DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT:Discussion was deferred to allow regional groups to review the newAfrican text that had been circulated.

ARTICLE 16 -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES: Benin presented theArticle as amended by the African Group. Following an extensivedebate on whether to proceed, due to the informal consultationswithin the Johnson-Sonko Group on financial resources andmechanisms, somewhat reluctant preliminary discussions were held.Paragraph 1 (mobilization and management of resources by affectedcountry Parties) was adopted ad referendum. In paragraph 2it was agreed that the inventory of funding resources will be atthe national, sub-regional, regional and international levels.Benin's proposal on the cancellation or alleviation of their debtswas bracketed. The US said the reference to ODA percentage inparagraph 3 should be replaced with the compromise text for Article5. Benin agreed. However, the EU's preferred text makes acommitment "to provide substantial resources" to the affectedcountry Parties.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Although delegates from the informal working group on finance leftthe session frustrated, some, including OECD countries, theSecretariat and the Co-Chairs, were surprised that Article 6 provedto be such a major problem. Members of the G-77 insist that Algeriahad raised the issue of discussing Article 6 alongside the articleson finance within the extended Bureau a number of weeks ago and wasignored by both developed and developing country Bureau members. Atthat meeting, the Bureau decided that Article 6 would be consideredwith the paragraphs on categories of countries. Some wondered whythis issue was not raised at Tuesday's informal lunch meeting onfinance, since this would have prepared the Co-Chairs for themaelstrom to come and, possibly, enable them to avoid a longprocedural debate. Nevertheless, this issue was raised at the G-77meeting Wednesday morning, where members of the G-77 and China gavetheir full support to Algeria, who promised to raise the issue inthe afternoon...which he most definitely did.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: The Plenary will meet at 10:00 am in ConferenceRoom I to discuss the progress made so far in the negotiations andthe programme of work for the rest of the week. The Plenary willalso hear statements by UNDP Administrator James Gustave Speth, theDirector-General of WMO and the Deputy-Director-General of FAO.

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON FINANCE: This Group is scheduledto meet immediately following the Plenary in Conference Room XIIand is scheduled to meet through the evening until 9:00 pm. It ispossible that after yesterday's discussion, the Bureau may alterthe work programme.

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEANANNEX: This Group will continue discussions following thismorning's Plenary, beginning with Articles 6 and 7. It is alsoexpected to hear the report of the informal group addressingArticles 3 and 5.

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN ANNEX: This Group willcontinue discussion of Articles 16-21 at 3:00 pm.

Participants

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

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