Report of main proceedings for 14 June 1994
5th Session of the the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification
The Plenary met briefly Tuesday morning to hear statements byministers of Sudan and Niger and, in the afternoon, the Ministerfor Environment and Tourism from Burkina Faso.
SUDAN: Salah Eddine Karar, Minister for Energy, noted thedifficulties in combatting desertification in the Sudan due to lackof financial resources. Over the past four years, Sudan hasallocated US$10 million for projects related to desertification andfood security and has undertaken a number of projects with thecooperation of FAO, IGADD and UNSO. He added that desertificationis regional in nature and requires the cooperation of theinternational community.
NIGER: Billo Soumana, Minister of Hydrology and theEnvironment, said initiatives to combat desertification must bemultifaceted, decentralized and involve women and children.Progress could be more significant if the efforts were notundertaken in a context of extreme poverty. He called for aregional fund to implement the Convention in Africa and said thatemergency measures for Africa in the interim period are essentialsince desertification will not wait.
BURKINA FASO: Anatole Tiendrebeogo, Minister of Environmentand Tourism, called for recognition of the socio-economic causesand consequences of desertification. The financial mechanisms andstructures for implementation are still a source of concern. Aconvention without a financial mechanism will not be a strong one.He expressed concern about the interim period and expressed hopethat the Secretariat can continue its work during this period.
INCD Chair Bo Kjelln opened the afternoon's informal plenary byreviewing outstanding items in the main Convention. The financialissues were discussed late last night and are continuing in privateconsultations today. Negotiations on the African Annex are underwayand negotiations of the Asian Annex will continue Wednesday. TheLatin American Annex has one outstanding article that is linked tothe main Convention and the Northern Mediterranean Annex iscomplete. A proposal on interim measures (A/AC.241/L.20) wascirculated and will be discussed in the Chair's Group (extendedbureau and heads of regional and interest groups) in the evening.Takao Shibata (Japan) is continuing his consultations on urgentaction for Africa. Fred Mallya's (Tanzania) legal clean-up squadhas been meeting and will report on Wednesday. Kjelln then turnedto the text of the Convention (A/AC.241/15/Rev.4).
PREAMBLE: The Russian Federation, echoed by Uzbekistan andKazahkstan, made an impassioned plea for removing the brackets fromparagraph 19, which calls for special attention to the affectedcountries that were part of the former Soviet Union. The G-77 andChina, Mali and Senegal wanted to delete paragraph 19. The US,Australia, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Syria, the EU and Switzerlandsupported its inclusion.
ARTICLE 1 -- USE OF TERMS: The Philippines announced thatthe countries of Southeast Asia feel excluded from the Convention.In response, the G-77 and China proposed amending sub-paragraph (h)to read: "`affected areas' means arid, semi-arid and/or drysub-humid areas affected or threatened by desertification and/ordrought." Canada, supported by the EU, Australia, Sweden,Switzerland and Japan, warned about the implications of changingone of the key definitions upon which the Convention is based, andargued that these countries are already covered under existingdefinitions. The Philippines acknowledged the possibility ofanother solution.
In sub-paragraph (j) (regional economic integration organization),the G-77 and China agreed to delete the bracketed phrase "orsub-region." The EU accepted this.
In sub-paragraph (k), the G-77 and China proposed: "Developedcountry Parties means developed country Parties and regionaleconomic integration organizations constituted of developedcountries." The EU indicated its possible support.
ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: This article still remains inbrackets and was not discussed. However, Syria circulated anamendment to sub-paragraph (a) concerning the management of sharednatural resources and other transboundary issues.
ARTICLE 4 -- GENERAL OBLIGATIONS: Paragraph 3 (eligibilityof affected developing country Parties for assistance) wasbracketed. Australia proposed its deletion, since it is not anobligation. The G-77 and China argued for its retention.
ARTICLE 5 -- OBLIGATIONS OF AFFECTED COUNTRY PARTIES:Paragraph 2 (affected developed country Parties are not eligiblefor financial assistance) was bracketed and the EU, who hadproposed it, accepted its deletion since these concerns werecovered in the Northern Mediterranean Annex. The G-77 and Chinaargued for its retention.
ARTICLE 8 -- RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CONVENTIONS: India, whoinsisted on retaining the brackets around paragraph 2, said that heis consulting with UN legal experts and will report back onWednesday.
ARTICLE 9 -- BASIC APPROACH: Notifying the Depositary aboutintentions to prepare national action programmes is still inquestion in paragraph 1. The US preferred the Depositary whileCanada suggested the Secretariat and the Chair suggested theConference of the Parties. In paragraph 2 (provision of assistancefor action programmes), the G-77 and China proposed deleting "asmutually agreed" and retaining the rest of the bracketed text.Canada and the EU insisted on its retention.
INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION ANNEX
The Group first considered Articles 13, 14, 16 and 18 and referredunresolved issues to an informal contact group. The Group thencompleted a second reading of the text, which was adopted adreferendum. The Group noted that as the French text did notcorrespond to the English text, the agreements reached were merelyon the basis of the English text of document A/AC.241/15/Rev.4.Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11 and 12 were all adopted, whilediscussion of Articles 13 and 18 was deferred.
ARTICLE 16 -- TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND COOPERATION: Cameroonreported back on the putative consensus that had been reached onMonday. The proposed text in (a) refers to limiting the cost ofsupport measures and backstopping overhead costs, which shouldrepresent an appropriately low proportion of the total costs of theproject. In (b), reference is made to "giving preference" to theutilization of competent national, regional and sub-regionalexperts. This was the subject of heated debate, involving chargesof bad faith negotiating on the part of the EU, who insisted thatthe changes read out by Cameroon did not reflect the agreementreached in the contact group. The EU was opposed to the referenceto "giving preference." Apparently, tentative agreement had beenreached in the contact group, however, the EU representative wasunable to obtain support from the rest of his group. The Chairreprimanded the EU for charging that the proposed text was not thesame text as was agreed to the previous day. He insisted that theEU should have "come clean" and acknowledged that this was not aconsensus text. The Chair asked Cameroon to reconvene the contactgroup. Cameroon declined, arguing that he was not prepared to workunder these conditions. It was decided that the interested partieswould meet directly with the Chair.
ARTICLES 13 -- CONTENT OF REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMME and 14 --ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK OF THE REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMME:Australia reported that consensus could not be reached on the EUproposal for "as appropriate" in the chapeau. The G-77 insistedthat the reference did not make any sense. Australia was asked toreconvene the contact group.
ARTICLE 18 -- COORDINATION AND PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: TheUS reported that agreement could not be reached on paragraph 3(consultative processes). The Chair said that he would discuss thematter with the Secretariat.
ARTICLE 5 -- COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRYPARTIES [AND OTHER PARTIES]: This article was adopted, pendingagreement on financial matters.
ARTICLE 6 -- STRATEGIC PLANNING FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLEDEVELOPMENT: The Group noted inconsistencies in the Convention,including in paragraph 2, where the words "local communities" and"local populations" are used interchangeably. The matter will bedealt with by the legal clean-up squad.
ARTICLE 8 -- CONTENT OF NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: The USpointed out that sub-paragraph 2(b)iii differed from the textsprinted before 31 March. The Group adopted the article, butrequested the Secretariat to refer to the earlier versions and, ifthe US observation was correct, the issue would be addressed later.
ARTICLE 9 -- PREPARATION OF NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES ANDIMPLEMENTATION AND EVALUATION INDICATORS: The Group substituted"donor country Parties" with "developed country Parties" since theformer category does not exist.
ARTICLE 14 -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES: The Chair reported thatthis Article, which had been forwarded to the Johnson-Sonko Group,was referred back to this Group on the assumption that the twooutstanding paragraphs, 3 and 4, could be resolved here. Paragraphs1 and 2 were adopted without debate. In paragraph 3, delegatesadopted the phrase, "...developed country Parties, and otherdeveloped Parties shall continue to allocate significant resourcesand/or increase resources and other forms of assistance to Africanaffected country Parties..." No agreement was reached on the issueof debt cancellation or alleviation, in spite of Nigeria's proposedcompromise text, "...including the alleviation of the debt burden."An informal group will handle this matter. Paragraph 4 was leftpending the Johnson-Sonko Group discussions.
ARTICLE 15 -- FINANCIAL MECHANISMS: Although the entirearticle is bracketed, agreement was reached on paragraph 3, whichnow reads: "simplified procedures, to the extent possible, forfunding shall be adopted."
ARTICLE 16 -- TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND COOPERATION: Thedelegates agreed to delete "strengthen" and "in accordance withnational policies."
ARTICLE 17 -- TRANSFER, ACQUISITION AND ACCESS TOENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND TECHNOLOGY: The only outstanding matterconcerned the brackets around "as necessary," which, at thesuggestion of the EU, were removed and the text adopted.
ARTICLE 19 -- FOLLOW-UP ARRANGEMENTS: The EU expressedconcern regarding sub-paragraphs a, b and c, and pointed out thatthe US had made a proposal in the chapeau, which had been rejectedsimply because the text was not bracketed. The Chair said that thePlenary had agreed not to re-open unbracketed text. France remindedhim that the postponement of discussions now would only postponethe pain.
IN THE CORRIDORS
A contact group met late into the night on Monday to discussfinancial issues. According to some participants, discussionsfocused primarily on financial mechanisms (Article 21, paragraphs1 and 3) -- the same two paragraphs that dominated Mondayafternoon's discussion in the Johnson-Sonko Group. While somedelegates claimed that no progress was made, others admitted thatthere appears to be a willingness to explore new proposals. The EUcontinued to oppose the creation of a new fund, which the G-77claimed was necessary for implementation. However, a new proposalwas circulating in the corridors that would identify an existingorganization to serve as a "Global Mechanism" to: monitor andevaluate the activities of financial mechanisms and identifyexisting bilateral and multilateral assistance programmes;facilitate the mobilization of adequate and timely assistance foraffected country Parties; and provide advice on innovative methodsof financing, sources of financial assistance and improvingcoordination. This proposal was expected to be the subject offurther discussion during the Tuesday evening meeting of theChair's Group.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON THE ASIAN REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION ANNEX: This Group is expected to meet this morning to completeits work.
OTHER MEETINGS: The schedule of the day's events was to bediscussed by the Bureau late Tuesday night. Check both theJournal and the television monitors for up-to-date information. It is possible that there will be a meeting of theJohnson-Sonko Group this morning. It is also possible that the Plenary will meet in an informal session in the afternoon toaddress outstanding issues in the Convention. Look for a formalPlenary meeting if any other ministers show up and want to speak.Finally, look for numerous informal consultations to continuethroughout this crucial day in the negotiating process.
INFOBAHN ONRAMP OUTSIDE SALLE III: Earth NegotiationsBulletin team members will be previewing their newInternet-based computer information service called "Linkages: AMultimedia Resource for Environment and Development Policymakers."Visit the computer outside Salle III today and tomorrow fordemonstrations in English and French.