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Report of main proceedings for 4 September 1996

9th Session of the the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification

Delegates to the ninth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committeeon the Convention to Combat Desertification (INCD-9) met in Working Groups Iand II during the morning to consider the Global Mechanism and the rules forprocedure, respectively. Delegates to Working Group I met in regional caucusesduring the afternoon, while Working Group II began consideration of the Rulesof Procedure.

WORKING GROUP I

Chair Mahmoud Gould El Gaouth (Mauritania) opened the meeting at 12:30 pmand presented the agenda of the Working Group as contained in Annex II ofdocument A/AC.241/53, Adoption of the Agenda and Organization of Work. TheGroup adopted their agenda and then discussed the schedule.

El Gaouth suggested that the Working Group deal with the Global Mechanism(GM) as contained in document A/AC.241/56, on Wednesday afternoon andThursday morning. He noted that following substantive discussions in previousINCD sessions on the issue, the Group should negotiate the procedural text forthe criteria to identify the organization to host the GM and agree on the functionsof the Mechanism. He noted that in view of the progress made on the issue atINCD-7, few disagreements are anticipated in the discussion on criteria. Headded that the Secretariat had compiled a draft text on the functions of the GMbased on INCD-8 discussions, following which the INCD Chair had organized ameeting in June 1996 in New York to find out whether these positions werefaithfully reflected. He urged the Group to consider the text as a guidingdocument to facilitate the negotiations without being regarded a definitive textbecause the negotiations on the functions of the GM are expected to evolve, andwhat is agreed to now may be changed later.

He proposed that the Group discuss the criteria first, then the functions of theGM, and later return to the discussion on the criteria in order to reach adefinitive decision on what to propose to the Conference of the Parties. The USsought clarification regarding whether the functions should not be determinedbefore deciding on the criteria. Lesotho concurred, pointing out that this is theprocedure the African Group had followed during their discussions. Followingthe Chair's clarification, the US agreed to the procedure. However, it was agreedthat the regional groups should consult on the preferred procedure and report tothe Chair.

With regard to the designation of a Permanent Secretariat and arrangements forits functioning, as contained in A/AC.241/54 and Add. 1-3, the Chair proposedthat the Group discuss the location Thursday afternoon, with presentations fromthe three bidding countries, Canada, Germany and Spain. A minister from Spainwill make the first presentation, followed by the Mayor of Montreal, Canada, andthe head of the delegation of Germany. The floor will then be opened fordelegates to ask questions and seek clarification. He suggested that a closedcommittee be set up after that, including the representatives from the threecountries and the Chair of the Bureau, to deal with the issue. The results of thiscommittee would then be reported to the Working Group and Plenary. If there istime Thursday afternoon, the Group will also discuss the designation of thePermanent Secretariat (A/AC.241/55 and Add.1-3) based on the proposals fromthe three institutions. During the discussion UNEP will make a statement.

With respect to financial rules as contained in A/AC.241/45/ Rev.1, El Gaouthnoted that with the exception of the voting procedures and decision-making, theother outstanding issues have precedent in the Framework Convention onClimate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity, thus it should beeasy to reach consensus.

The Chair suggested that if the Working Group completes discussion of an itemwithin the time allocated, it should move on to the next issue on its agenda. Inthe event that an issue is not completed within the time allocated, the agendaitem allocated that time shall be withheld until the preceding issue is completed.However, the time allocated to the discussion on the location of the PermanentSecretariat will not be changed.

WORKING GROUP II

Chair Takao Shibata (Japan) called the meeting to order at 12:30 pm andreviewed the group's tentative schedule. Working Group II will consider: rules ofprocedure (A/AC.241/48/Rev.1); scientific and technological cooperation(A/AC.241/57); and communication of information and review of implementation(A/AC.241/49/Rev. 1 and 58). He suggested that the Group leave unresolved aslittle as possible for consideration at future sessions of the INCD. A report will bemade available to participants on Thursday, 5 September, regardingbenchmarks and indicators.

RULES OF PROCEDURE: During the afternoon meeting, the Groupsuspended discussion for one hour to allow the G-77 and China to develop acommon position. The Chair suggested that delegates begin with considerationof Rule 23 (powers of the President). Benin reminded delegates thatbrackets remain in Rules 5 (notification of sessions) and 6(participation of UN and specialized agencies). The Chair reminded delegatesthat Rule 22 (election of officers) has brackets because there was nodecision on the size of the Bureau. The heading for Rule 23 waschanged to "general" powers of the President. Rules 24 to 30were agreed as drafted in A/AC.241/48/Rev.1.

In Rule 31 (election of officers of subsidiary bodies), Benin, on behalf ofthe G-77 and China, proposed adding a reference to officers of "subsidiarybodies" in the heading and deleting the reference to election of the chairpersonby the COP "unless the COP decides otherwise." The UK supported theflexibility that the "unless" phrase added, and proposed extending the clause tothe election of vice-chairs, but the G-77 and China objected. The US proposedqualifying the text by adding "without prejudice to Rule 22" (election of officers).The Chair proposed adding a sentence prior to the draft text noting that the chairof the Committee on Science and Technology will be decided by the COP andretaining the Rule as drafted. Delegates agreed.

RATIFICATION STATUS

As Mongolia became the 42nd country to ratify the Convention on 4 September1996, the goal of 50 ratifications in order for the Convention to enter into forcehas come closer. The speed with which instruments are turned in is picking upand additional instruments of ratification are expected during this session. Itseems plausible that the 50th ratification may be submitted as early as October1996. According to Article 36, paragraph 1 of the CCD, the Convention shallenter into force on the 90th day after the deposit of the 50th instrument ofratification, so the CCD may enter into force as early as February 1997.

The following is a list of ratifications by region.

Africa: Nineteen ratifications (Cape Verde, Egypt, Senegal, Lesotho, Togo,Tunisia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Sudan, Niger, Mauritius, Burkina Faso, Algeria,The Gambia, Malawi, Mauritania, Eritrea, Benin, Libya)

Asia: Eight ratifications (Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Micronesia,Israel, Lebanon, Oman, Mongolia)

Europe: Nine ratifications (The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Denmark,Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Norway)

North America: One ratification (Canada)

Latin America and the Caribbean: Five ratifications (Mexico, Ecuador, Peru,Panama, Bolivia)

IN THE CORRIDORS I

Many delegates from all the regions agree that the Secretariat's document onthe Global Mechanism forms a good basis for negotiations because it reflectsthe interests of all groups. Others welcomed some of the proposals made by theNGOs that were carried in their ECO bulletin of Tuesday, 3 September.However, some note that it is unlikely agreement will be reached during thissession regarding the functions of the GM. Many expect that the delegations willonly have preliminary exchanges on the issue and save substantive negotiationuntil later.

IN THE CORRIDORS II

The discussion on the issues of location and host for the Permanent Secretariatcontinues. The linkage made by some delegates of institutions and locationsmentioned in Tuesday's issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (Vol. 4 No.87) triggered reactions by others. Bidding agencies and governments noted thatthe institutional presence of the bidding agencies is not confined to one city. Thedesignation of the permanent location for the Secretariat will be discussed inWorking Group I Thursday afternoon.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

WORKING GROUP I: The Working Group is expected to meet inConference Room 1 to consider the Global Mechanism during the morningsession. In the afternoon the Group will hear presentations from the countriesbidding to host the Permanent Secretariat. It may also begin considering thedesignation of the Permanent Secretariat.

WORKING GROUP II: The Working Group is expected to meet inConference Room 2 to resume consideration of the rules of procedure, followedby scientific and technical cooperation. Morning and afternoon meetings areexpected.

BACKGROUND PAPERS: Look for the background papers on Friday'spanel regarding women and desertification to be distributed today.

Participants

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

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