10th Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification
The tenth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the Convention toCombat Desertification (INCD-10) begins today in New York. This is expected to be thefinal meeting of the INCD. The Convention entered into force on 26 December 1996, andthe first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) is scheduled to take place inRome from 29 September - 10 October 1997.
During INCD-10, delegates will attempt to finalize arrangements for the GlobalMechanism for finance, the designation of a Permanent Secretariat, scientific andtechnical cooperation, rules of procedure for the COP, financial rules, the organization ofscientific and technical information and communication of information, among otherissues.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE INCD
The Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) was formally adopted on 17 June1994, and opened for signature in Paris on 14-15 October 1994. The Convention takes aninnovative approach in recognizing: the physical, biological and socioeconomic aspectsof desertification; the importance of redirecting technology transfer so that it is demanddriven; and the involvement of local populations in the development of national actionprogrammes. The core is the development of national and subregional/regional actionprogrammes by national governments in cooperation with donors, local populations andnon-governmental organizations (NGOs).
NEGOTIATION OF THE CONVENTION
During its 47th session in 1992, the UN General Assembly, as requested by the UnitedNations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), adopted resolution47/188 calling for the establishment of the INCD. At the organizational session of theINCD in January 1993, delegates elected Bo Kjelln (Sweden) Chair of the Committee.The INCD met five times between May 1993 and June 1994, during which delegatesdrafted the Convention and four regional implementation annexes for Africa, Asia, LatinAmerica and the Northern Mediterranean. The Convention was adopted on the closingday of INCD-5 in Paris, along with resolutions recommending Urgent Action for Africaand interim arrangements for the period between adoption of the CCD and its entry intoforce.
INCD-6 was held in New York from 9-18 January 1995. The Committee reachedagreement on its work programme for the interim period and the mandates of the twoworking groups and the plenary.
Delegates at the seventh session, which took place in Nairobi from 7-17 August 1995,reviewed the status of ratification and implementation of the Resolution on Urgent Actionfor Africa and Interim Measures. The Committee discussed and provided input on thestructure and elements that should be considered in preparation for COP-1.
INCD-8, held from 5-15 February 1996 in Geneva, reviewed the status of ratificationsand the implementation of the Resolution on Urgent Action for Africa and InterimMeasures. The Committee began negotiations on some of the Secretariats texts onpreparations for COP-1. Delegates requested the Secretariat to prepare new texts fornegotiation at INCD-9, based on their discussions on the Committee on Science andTechnology, communication and information, draft rules of procedure for the COP, draftfinancial rules, the Global Mechanism and arrangements to house the PermanentSecretariat, and, for INCD-10, programme and budget. Some delegations revisited thequestion raised at INCD-7 regarding the need for two-week sessions of the Committee inthe future.
INCD-9 was held in New York from 3-13 September 1996. During this session, theworking groups continued to prepare for COP-1. Delegates addressed outstanding issuesrelated to arrangements regarding the Global Mechanism for finance, the designation of aPermanent Secretariat, scientific and technical cooperation, rules of procedure, financialrules, and communication of information. Delegates general impression was that goodprogress was made, especially concerning scientific and technological cooperation, eventhough several of the most important, primarily financial, issues remained unresolved.
51ST SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
On Thursday, 24 October 1996, the Second Committee considered Agenda Item 97(a),Implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the UNCED. This agendaitem included discussion of the reports of INCD-8 (A/51/76), INCD-9 (A/51/76/Add.1)and the report on the implementation of resolution 50/112 on measures taken by INCD toprepare for the first Conference of the Parties (COP-1) (A/51/510).
Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary of the CCD, reported on activities of the CCDSecretariat and on the most recent developments in the INCD negotiating process.
In the discussion that followed, the G-77 and CHINA said the problem of desertificationneeds true political understanding and flexibility at all levels. Long-term implementationefforts should take account of local conditions. She said the key concerns for developingcountries were the establishment of a facility to meet the resource needs of affectedcountries and the selection of the headquarters to host the Secretariat of the Convention.
The EU, on behalf of Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia,Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Iceland, welcomed the entryinto force of the Convention and noted the EUs intent to continue to cooperate withaffected countries to combat desertification. He said there was particular need to reachagreement on the functions of the Global Mechanism and the Permanent Secretariat.
BOLIVIA, on behalf of the Rio Group, said the most important pending issue wasestablishment of the Global Mechanism, which should not act only as a clearing housebut should possess its own resources.
MONGOLIA hoped that INCD-10 would take a decision on resource mobilization.BENIN expressed concern that the developed and developing countries had not agreed onthe Global Mechanism. He said the door to the GEF had been closed to the Convention.
NIGER stressed the importance of the Global Mechanism and proposed the developmentof an environmental solidarity tax that would contribute to environmental protection.NIGERIA emphasized preventative measures, including integrated developmentprogrammes to eradicate poverty. EYGPT said the CCD should be put on an equalfooting with the other environment-related legal instruments and its financing should begiven priority.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) described several IFADprojects to support the Convention, such as those designed to provide the micro-economicenvironment for farmers to help themselves. He said the Global Mechanism shouldactively solicit and facilitate participation of financing institutions and the private sector.ALGERIA said desertification must be accorded the attention it deserves from the UNand added that developed countries do not appear sufficiently interested in the CCD asthey are in other conventions. ISRAEL noted that expertise in his country hadtransformed the desert into a habitable, food-producing environment, as well as anindustrial and tourism center. Israel has shared its experience with countries in Asia,Africa and Latin America.
SWEDEN said the Convention is not sufficiently well-known and more work is neededbefore it can have a real impact on development cooperation practices. He noted that boththe World Bank and the GEF are taking decisive steps to support implementation of theConvention. There is a need for continued negotiation on the Global Mechanism.
KAZAKSTAN called for promoting cooperation in a number of areas, such as protectionof the territory near the Aral Sea, realization of effective technology measures torehabilitate desert pastures, forest reclamation and the rehabilitation of ecological zonesin the drought-affected areas.
IRAN stressed that the Global Mechanism should serve as an engine for mobilizing andchanneling resources to affected developing countries. ZAMBIA asked whether there wasa plan to water down the final outcome of the negotiations and noted there was atendency to relegate the CCD to second-rate status compared to other environmentaltreaties. UNDP said there was now a need for an impetus at the country level and stressedthat the actions of international agencies alone would not be enough.
On Thursday, 31 October 1996, COSTA RICA, on behalf of the G-77 and CHINA, andCOLOMBIA, on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, introduced a draftresolution, Elaboration of an International Convention to Combat Desertification inThose Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly inAfrica (A/C.2/51/L.10). After informal consultations on this resolution, a revised draftresolution (A/C.2/51/L.39) was introduced on 2 December 1996, along with a statementon programme budget implications (A/C.2/51/L.48). The resolution was then adopted bythe Second Committee and submitted to the General Assembly Plenary for final adoption.
On 16 December 1996, the General Assembly adopted the resolution, which is nowresolution 51/180. The General Assembly welcomes the fact that the Convention toCombat Desertification enters into force on 26 December 1996, and calls upon countriesto take appropriate action for the ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to theConvention. The General Assembly urges INCD-10 to aim at finalizing all outstandingnegotiating issues prior to COP-1. The General Assembly also takes note of paragraph 3of INCD decision 9/5, which authorizes the Chair of the Committee to organize suchconsultations in the period after INCD-10, as he deems necessary for the appropriatepreparation for COP-1.
The resolution decides that COP-1 shall be held from 29 September to 10 October 1997and accepts with deep appreciation the offer of the Government of Italy to host COP-1 inRome at FAO Headquarters. The General Assembly also urges all States, the UN systemand all relevant organizations and actors to take concrete actions and measures for the fulland effective implementation of the provision of INCD resolution 5/1 on urgent action forAfrica. Governments, regional economic integration organizations and other interestedorganizations are requested to continue to make contributions to the Trust Fund and theSpecial Voluntary Fund, as well as to relevant United Nations bodies, in order tostrengthen their capacity to support activities under the Convention. Finally, the InterimSecretariat will continue to operate and be funded until the Permanent Secretariat beginsoperating, which should not be later than 31 December 1998.
This resolution can be found on-line at: gopher://gopher.un.org/00/ga/docs/51/plenary/A51-605.EN1.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
INCD Chair Bo Kjelln will open the session at approximately 10:00 am. This brief opening session will be immediately followed by meetings of regional groups. Theregional groups will continue to meet in the afternoon, as well as the morning of Tuesday,7 January. The Plenary is scheduled to resume at 3:00 pm on Tuesday.
Editors' Note: The next issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin will be published on Wednesday, 8 January 1997.