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Report of main proceedings for 5 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 Committee on theConvention to Combat Desertification (INCD-9) met in two working groups during the morning and afternoon. Working Group I considered the Global Mechanism and heardpresentations from Spain, Canada and Germany, the countries bidding to host thePermanent Secretariat, as well as the UN agencies bidding to provide administrativesupport. Working Group II considered the rules of procedure and scientific andtechnological cooperation.

WORKING GROUP I

GLOBAL MECHANISM: The Chair, Mahmoud ould El Gaouth, reported thatfollowing regional consultations Wednesday, the Group would begin by discussing thefunctions of the Global Mechanism, as contained in A/AC.241/56.

Chapeau: France, on behalf of the OECD, proposed an additional introductionextracted from the first sentence of Article 21, paragraph 4. Costa Rica, on behalf of theG-77 and China, amended the chapeau to: “In accordance with the relevant provisions ofthe Convention, in particular articles 7, 20 and 21, and the financial provisions of theregional implementation annexes, the GM shall function under the authority and guidanceof the COP, be accountable and make regular reports to it. According to the principles oftransparency, neutrality and universality, the GM, in carrying out its mandate under Article21, paragraph 4, should perform the following functions:”. Both proposals were accepted.

Collecting and disseminating information: Sub-paragraph 1 (a) was re-phrasedand reads: “identify potential sources of financing from...the UN system,...private sectorentities, and establish relations and maintain contact with them.”

Following inputs from France, Tunisia, Germany and Lesotho, sub-paragraph (b) wasamended to: “Establish and update an inventory of the financial needs of affecteddeveloping country Parties for carrying out action programmes and other relevantactivities related to the implementation of the Convention, on the basis of informationprovided by the Parties under relevant articles of the Convention.” The US requested timeto study the proposal.

There were no changes to subparagraph (c) that addresses a variety of financingmechanisms, except for (c) (iii), in which “details of” at the beginning of the sentence wasdeleted, while “and/or mitigate the effects of drought” was added at the end.

At the start of the discussion on paragraphs 2 and 3 (analyzing and facilitatingcooperation, respectively), Costa Rica cautioned that because the G-77 and China had notdiscussed the sections, he will need to re-confirm with his group regarding the agreementsreached in the Working Group.

Analyzing and advising on request: No changes were made.

Facilitating cooperation and coordination: France, on behalf of the OECD,proposed amending sub-paragraph (c) to read: “...facilitate coordination through provisionof information and other measures concerning relevant multiple source financingapproaches, mechanisms and arrangements...” Tunisia pointed out that Article 21,paragraph 4 goes beyond providing information. France also proposed amending sub-paragraph (e) (ii) so as to enable Parties to receive information on eligibility criteria andprojects from “international financial instruments and mechanisms, including the GEF...”

Lesotho proposed amending the chapeau of sub-paragraph (e) to make “use of the COP,and other relevant existing fora...” in the provision of information.

As he adjourned the sixty minute session, the Chair said discussion on the Mechanism willbe taken up again during the second week of the session.

DESIGNATION OF A PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: The Group consideredboth the physical location (A/AC.241/54 and Add. 1-3) as well as the administrativearrangements (A/AC.241/55 and Add 1-3) during the afternoon.

Physical location: In the well-attended session that exuded great expectation,Spain’s Minister for the Environment, the Mayor of Montreal, Canada, and Germany’sDirector General for Development Cooperation, each explained what the cities of Murcia,Montreal and Bonn respectively, would offer if selected to host the Permanent Secretariat.In addition to presenting each location’s cultural, economic, social and geographicalbenefits that included the infrastructure and cost-of-living and each country’s pastinvolvement in anti-desertification activities, they made financial offers. Spain will provide1100 square meters of office space indefinitely, US$1 million every year in technicalassistance to the Secretariat, and nearly US$8 million for desertification projects indeveloping countries. Canada’s package totals US$5.2 million, including office space,technical assistance and financing. Germany offered rent-free office space, US$1.32million every year for the Secretariat and costs for Convention events organized by theSecretariat, in addition to their assessed contribution as a Party to the Convention,relocation costs for all the Secretariat staff and costs for language courses. The floor wasthen opened for questions but the presentations did not attract any discussion.

Administrative arrangements: UNDP, UNEP and WMO made statementssupplementing the contents of A/AC.241/55 Add.1, 2 and 3, respectively. In light of themandates given to it during UNCED, by UNGA and its own Governing Council, tosupport anti-desertification activities, UNEP can provide administrative support, and ifanother institution is selected, to collaborate and support it within its financial capability.UNDP clarified that it had not offered to host the Permanent Secretariat but is willing tosupport the institution selected. WMO said that, as in the past, it would continue to offerits support to the Convention. These presentations did not attract any debate either.

WORKING GROUP II

Benin, on behalf of the G-77 and China, expressed concern about the rumor that hisGroup has been the cause of the slow pace of work, and stated that they met as a Groupon Wednesday to facilitate the speed of work at INCD-9.

RULES OF PROCEDURE: In Rule 32 (matters forconsideration), the G-77 and China proposed retaining the bracketed text noting that theallocation of work could be adjusted upon the request of a Party or group of Parties andadded “or a member of the Bureau of a subsidiary body.” The Russian Federation, the UKand the US supported deleting the bracketed text and objected to the G-77 and China’saddition. Austria suggested replacing the bracketed text with “upon the request of theChair of a subsidiary body.” The G-77 and China changed Austria’s proposal to “upon therequest of a subsidiary body,” which was agreed.

No substantive changes were made to Rule 33 (duties of the head of thePermanent Secretariat).

The heading of Rule 34 (functions of Secretariat) was changed to include the fullname, “Permanent Secretariat.” Subparagraph (b) was changed so that theSecretariat should “collect” and not “receive” the documents of the session. The issuewhether the meetings of subsidiary bodies should be held in private or public, under Rule35 (meetings), paragraph 2, attracted lengthy debate. The G-77 andChina supported “public” meetings, but the UK expressed concern that preparatorymeetings then would be “open to the press and the man in the street.” Austria proposed abreak for consultations, during which delegates agreed that meetings of subsidiary bodiesshould be public, unless the subsidiary body concerned decides otherwise. As part of thesolution, a third paragraph was added, which reads: “Meetings of ad hocsubsidiary bodies shall be private unless the body decides otherwise.”

Rule 36 (quorum) was agreed as drafted. Delegates agreed to Canada’s proposalto change “his” to “the speaker’s” in Rule 37 (procedures for speaking). Rule38 (precedence) was agreed as drafted.

ORGANIZATION OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICALCOOPERATION: The Group went on to consider the organization of scientific andtechnological cooperation as contained in A/AC.241/57. In the Terms of Reference of theCommittee on Science and Technology (CST), only three bracketed parts remained andthe Group was able to solve them all. In the bracketed text in paragraph 2(ii)(advisory functions of the CST), the G-77 and China had in earlier negotiations expressedconcern with “monitor” and the UK with “assess.” Upon the suggestion of the G-77 andChina, the paragraph now reads “collect information, analyze, assess and reportdevelopments in science and technology....”

The discussion on paragraph 6 (composition of the Bureau of the CST)elicited debate between the UK and the G-77 and China regarding the paragraph’s linkwith Rules 22 and 31 (rules of procedure regarding the election of Bureau members of theCOP and subsidiary bodies, respectively). It was finally agreed that there is no need tospecify the number of Bureau members of the CST at the moment, thus the paragraphnow reads: “The Committee shall elect its own Chairpersons, one of which shall act asRapporteur. Together with the Chairperson, elected by the Conference of the Parties inaccordance with rule 31 of the rules of procedure, they shall constitute the Bureau. TheChairperson and Vice-Chairpersons shall be elected with due regard to the need to ensureequitable geographical distribution and adequate representation of affected countryParties, particularly those in Africa, and shall not serve more than two consecutive terms.”

In paragraph 8 bis (follow up), France noted that the paragraph wasproposed at INCD-8 in recognition of the fact that the bulk of the work would be doneoutside the sessions, and someone should be responsible for follow up. The G-77 andChina proposed that the Bureau, rather than the Chairperson, be responsible for follow up.Additional proposals included the “Chairperson together with the Bureau” (Uzbekistan)and “through its Chairperson the Bureau” (France). But delegates agreed that the Bureaushould be responsible for follow up.

Section Two, Procedures for the Establishment and Maintenance of a roster ofIndependent Experts, Part I (Draft Recommendation to the COP) was agreed.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Delegates continued to discuss the options for the location of the Permanent Secretariatafter the three presentations in Working Group I. Financial considerations were importantto many, who noted that the location of the Secretariat would not matter if there were nofunding for its work. Co-location with other international organizations and the relatedimplications for staffing of embassies was also among the issues delegates were givingweight to as they evaluated the alternatives.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: The Plenary is expected to meet from 3:00 to 4:30 pm in ConferenceRoom 2 to take up unresolved issues from Monday’s Plenary and to review the situationas regards extrabudgetary funds (A/AC.241/59).

WORKING GROUP I: The Working Group is expected to meet during themorning in Conference Room 1 to discuss the G-77 and China’s proposal(A/AC.241/VIII/L.1 of 8 August 1995) that the UN Secretariat host the PermanentSecretariat, after which they will discuss the Financial Rules (A/AC.241/45/Rev.1).

WORKING GROUP II: The Working Group is expected to meet during themorning in Conference Room 2 to discuss communication of information and review of implementation (A/AC.241/49/Rev. 1 and 58).

PANEL: A panel discussion on Women and Desertification will meet at 4:30 pmin Conference Room 2. Presentations will be made on women and access to credit,women, land tenure and ownership, and pilot projects to inform rural women about CCDand assist them to prepare their input to national action programmes.

Participants

National governments
UK
US
Negotiating blocs
Group of 77 and China

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