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Report of main proceedings for 10 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) continued to meet in two workinggroups. Working Group I discussed the Global Mechanism. Working Group II consideredthe draft rules of procedure of the Conference of the Parties.

WORKING GROUP I

GLOBAL MECHANISM: The Group considered the outstanding issues on theGlobal Mechanism during the morning and afternoon, although the afternoon meetingbegan late, to enable the regional groups to consult on the sticky points. With fewamendments to the Secretariat’s text, the Group reached consensus on all the issuesexcept the first three paragraphs of the section on the GM’s function of mobilizing andchannelling resources.

Functions of the Global Mechanism: The two most difficult issues to resolverelated to the mobilization and channelling of resources and the report to the COP onfuture funding.

The OECD countries proposed inserting “promote actions leading to” wherever the textreferred to mobilize or channel financial resources (paragraph 4), and to deletesubparagraph (c) on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of existing financialresources. Otherwise, the OECD countries said the Group would be renegotiating theConvention because the GM should not have resources of its own. Some, includingSenegal, disagreed saying denying it resources makes the CCD a second-rate convention.Mexico highlighted the need to distinguish between facilitation funds and funds tofacilitate the activities of the GM. He suggested providing text for this later.

When the Group resumed discussion of the issue in the afternoon, Costa Rica, on behalfof the G-77 and China, said the Group’s reluctant acceptance of the Secretariat’s textdemonstrated their flexibility. However, negotiations on the GM were a package and herequested placing the entire text on the GM in brackets. France, on behalf of the OECDcountries, regretted the turn of events. She said although her group understands the needfor resources, there should be no ambiguity in the text, which should be in the letter andspirit of the Convention. She said the OECD countries had a new set of proposals on thesection.

Under paragraph 4 (d)(ii) (use of indigenous knowledge and technologies) some OECDcountries preferred “traditional” to “indigenous” knowledge, since it is a wider concept.Both words were included.

With respect to reports to the COP, the Group conceded that it should include anassessment of the future availability of funds, instead of stating “the likely futureavailability of funds” because the latter prejudges the content of the report.

The outstanding paragraph 3 (c) (facilitating cooperation and coordination) was resolvedand now reads: “encourage and facilitate coordination, including through provision ofinformation and other measures concerning relevant multiple-source funding....”

Criteria for selecting an institution to house the GM: In paragraph 1 (functionalcapacity) all subparagraphs were agreed to with minor amendments and rewording. Thedebate focused on the G-77 and China’s three new proposals requiring the institution todemonstrate its capacity to: provide finance and/or facilitate the financing of research andthe transfer, acquisition and adaptation of technology; deal with poverty eradication anddevelopment issues; and exhibit principles of transparency, neutrality and universality inits management and operations. With a few amendments, delegates agreed to includethese criteria.

Closing Comments: The Chair expressed optimism as he adjourned theafternoon session early to facilitate informal negotiations on the section regarding themobilization and channelling of financial resources. He said he would prepare a draftdecision inviting the two institutions bidding to host the GM to update their offers, whichwould enable INCD-10 to choose one. The draft decision will request delegates to submitcomments on the updated offers in time to enable the Secretariat to submit all documentsby 28 October 1996 to meet UN requirements to translate and circulate the texts.

WORKING GROUP II

RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE COP: The Working Group spent the morningand afternoon completing the reading of rules of procedure of the Conference of theParties (COP) (A/AC.241/48/Rev.1).

Conduct of business: During consideration of Rule 39 (points of order)Benin, speaking on behalf of the G-77 and China and supported by the UK, suggesteddeleting the bracketed text noting that representatives may not, on a point of order, speak“simultaneously” on the substance. Delegates agreed.

In Rule 41 (proposals and amendments to proposals) delegates agreed to keep thetwo bracketed references to consideration of “proposals” in addition to amendments toproposals. The issue of whether proposals discussed or put to the vote would have to bemade available in all official languages attracted lengthy debate. It was finally agreed thatthey would be available in all official languages, with the amendment that proposalswould need to be “translated and” circulated.

In Rule 42 (communication of proposed amendment to Convention) the G-77and China suggested replacing the bracketed text regarding communication six monthsbefore the session that an amendment is proposed for “review and” adoption with thefollowing text: “discussion and consideration with a view to its adoption.” The UKobjected, stating that the bracketed text should be deleted so as to replicate CCDlanguage. Austria suggested that Rule 42 be deleted, since it repeats language in theConvention, and delegates agreed.

Voting: In Rule 46 (voting rights), the G-77 and China supported thereference to an organization not exercising its right to vote if a member State votes, “andvice versa,” in order to reflect the Convention language. The UK suggested that the rulebe deleted since it is in the Convention. Uganda supported retaining the rule, which wasagreed in the same form as Article 32 of the Convention.

In Rule 47 (majority required), delegates removed the brackets from the entirerule. The brackets in the first paragraph were retained, pending related decisions onfinancial rules. Delegates agreed to remove “two-thirds” majority required for overrulinga President’s ruling. The G-77 and China suggested that if a vote is equally divided afterthe “third vote,” the proposal should be “regarded as withdrawn.” Delegates agreed itshould be regarded as withdrawn, but after the “second vote.”

In Rule 49 (division of proposals and amendments), the UK, supported by theUS, preferred to delete the bracketed sentence limiting the time allowed to each speakerto five minutes. However, he could also consider accepting that the “President may rule”to limit time. The G-77 and China supported the original text. The Chair noted that theGA Rules of Conduct provide that the President may limit the time allowed for eachspeaker, and delegates agreed to the GA precedent.

In Rule 52 (method of voting), the G-77 and China supported retaining bracketedtext noting that “with the exception of elections of the Bureau of subsidiary bodies,voting shall be restricted to plenary meetings of the Conference of the Parties.” Austriasuggested that the text be “subject to Rule 31" (election of officers) since the wholeBureau may not be elected in the subsidiary bodies. The UK suggested that the text bemoved to the section on subsidiary bodies and stated that the real message of the text isthat subsidiary bodies shall not vote. The G-77 and China expressed concern that ifsubsidiary bodies are authorized to vote, the COP could not call into question theirdecisions. The text, with the Austrian amendment, was retained and moved to become 31bis. The G-77 and China proposed that the bracketed reference to voting orderbased on [English] alphabetical order be deleted. The US and UK preferred to specify asingle language. Canada suggested that voting take place based on the order ofratification, beginning with the Party whose name is drawn by lot. The US asked what theprecedent of previous conventions has been, and the Chair noted it has been English. TheG-77 and China stated that the decision is political and that English is imposed on others.France noted that the Canadian proposal was original. The Canadian proposal wasbracketed along with the previously bracketed text. The G-77 and China, supported by theUK, proposed retaining the final bracketed sentence regarding secret ballots, which wasagreed.

Elections: In Rule 55 (absence of majority), delegates agreed that if, onthe “second” ballot, the votes are equally divided, “the President shall decide between the candidates by drawing lots.”

Languages and sound records: In Rule 57 (official languages), the G-77and China proposed retaining reference to the six official UN languages. Japan expressedconcern about the budgetary implications and suggested that subsidiary bodies reduce theneed for translation as much as possible, but supported retaining reference to the sixlanguages. The US also expressed concern with costs. The Chair noted that the issue isnot yet resolved in other conventions and proposed that the brackets be deleted and hewould work with Japan to incorporate their concerns.

In Rule 59 (languages of official documents) brackets were retained around thesentence that says that the original text shall prevail if there is a difference between texts.

Amendments to rules of procedure (and status): The words “and status” wereremoved from the heading. In Rule 61 (amendments) “by consensus” was movedto the end of the sentence. The paragraphs and headings were then reorganized. A newsection XIV, “Overriding authority of the Convention,” was created. Rule 63(precedence of the Convention) was placed in section XIV, and amended to read“...conflict between any provision of the present rules and any provision...”. A sectionXV, called “Miscellaneous,” was also added, under which Rule 62 (italicizedheadings) was placed. Rules 62 and 63 consequently traded places and numbers.

IN THE CORRIDORS

The suggestion by the G-77 and China in the afternoon to place the already negotiatedtext on the GM in brackets came as a surprise to many. Some delegates noted that there isconfusion between the functions that the institution that houses the Global Mechanism isexpected to play, and the functions the GM, which is not an institution itself, should play.Notwithstanding the sudden deadlock, delegations from the G-77 and China and theOECD countries still expect to find a solution at this session of the INCD.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: The Plenary will meet in Conference Room 2 at 10:00 am and 3:00pm to consider urgent action for Africa and interim measures, and the Secretariat’sresponses to questions posed at the last Plenary regarding extrabudgetary funds.

INFORMAL GROUP: An informal group will meet from 6:30 to 8:30 pm tocomplete the outstanding issues on the Global Mechanism, administrative arrangementsfor the Permanent Secretariat and the financial rules.

DESIGNING A PARTICIPATORY APPROACH: UNSO, in collaboration withseveral institutions, will present a tool book on practical approaches to design aparticipatory approach at 1:30 pm in Conference Room 1.

PISTACHIOS: Pistachio nuts, a product from the drylands of Iran, will beavailable at the back of Conference Room 2 during the Plenary.

Participants

National governments
UK
US
Negotiating blocs
Group of 77 and China

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