Daily report for 24 January 1994

3rd Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification


The Plenary convened Monday morning to hear reports from the two working groups, statements from ministers, regional groups andNGOs, and a report on the situation as regards extrabudgetary funds.

REPORT OF WORKING GROUPS: Working Group I Chair Erwin Ortiz-Gandanillas presented the report of Working Group I,noting that despite the constructive attitude of the group,numerous areas of divergence remain. Working Group IIChair Anne de Lattre reported on the progress of the group. Shenoted that revised text for Articles 1, 18 and 19 were availablein all languages and that agreement had not yet been reached onthe provisions dealing with the subsidiary bodies.

COUNTRY AND NGO STATEMENTS: The EnvironmentMinister of Senegal noted the extent of internationalcooperation, new resources and institutions that are needed tocombat desertification. He also stated that the drop in rawmaterial prices, deterioration of terms of trade, debt andeconomic productivity have placed affected societies on the edgeof survival.

The Environment Minister of Burkina Faso noted hisconcerns regarding the dissipation of the Spirit of Rio. He alsostated that questions related to poverty, economic growth andrenewable energy were indeed closely related to the Convention.He said that the Convention must be based on clear and preciseobligations.

Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, noted the G-77'sconcern with the tendency of developed countries to erode thescope of commitments made since Rio. He identified thefundamental principles that must underpin the Convention such asrecognition of the global dimension of desertification and thelinks to poverty.

EL Salvador spoke on behalf of the Latin American and CaribbeanGroup, affirming the importance of common but differentiatedresponsibilities and the need to assure sufficient financial andtechnical resources and cooperation.

The representative of ICRISAT spoke on behalf of CGIAR anddescribed the latter's activities in the area of desertificationand its capacity to respond to the needs of the Convention.

KENGO spoke on behalf of NGOs and mentioned the importance ofawareness-raising, regional training centres and the need to workclosely with local communities and NGOs in combattingdesertification.

EXTRA-BUDGETARY FUNDS: INCD Executive Secretary Hama ArbaDiallo presented the situation with regard to the Voluntary Fundfor the participation of developing countries and theSecretariat's Trust Fund, as contained in document A/AC.241/16.Diallo noted the insufficiency of funds in the Voluntary Fund andcalled on developed countries to increase contributions for theremaining INCD sessions. He also appealed to donor countries notto attach conditions to their funding contributions.

Several countries announced their plans to increase contributionsto the Voluntary and Trust Funds, including: Germany, Japan,Italy, Spain, Canada, the US, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland,Norway, Sweden and Tunisia. Several of these countries requestedmore precise accounting from the Secretariat, to which Dialloresponded that he would provide this information.

INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n closed the morning session, outlining thesuggested goals for the remaining sessions of both WorkingGroups: reach as broad an agreement as possible with clearlanguage; clarify points of divergences and identify the meansfor resolution; and facilitate the task of the Secretariat inproducing a revised text for INCD-4.


Working Group I welcomed its Chair, Ahmed Djoghlaf, to New Yorkand proceeded to complete its first reading of Articles 22 and 23on financial resources and mechanisms, which started on Friday,and to begin its second reading of the preamble.

ARTICLE 22 -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES: Egypt proposed newlanguage stressing that: mobilization of resources must remainthe responsibility of the affected countries; a certain amount ofcoordinated bilateral and multilateral aid should be earmarkedfor combatting desertification; and priority should be given toAfrica. Brazil commented that a bottom-up approach, which wouldfavor democratic principles, is called for and reminded delegatesthat in Rio they agreed to work in solidarity and globalpartnerships, bearing in mind shared but differentiatedresponsibilities. At the conclusion of the debate, the followingissues had emerged:

Sub-paragraph 1(e) explores new methods ofinnovative financing. Morocco supported Tunisia that the questionof debt should be raised here. Norway requested greaterclarification. Japan could not support this paragraph and Algeriacalled for its deletion.

Sub-paragraph 1(f) provides for equitable "burden-sharing"among countries providing assistance. A number of countries,including Morocco and Finland, suggested that it be redrafted.

Paragraph 2 calls on affected countries toallocate a portion of their own financial resources to achievethe objectives of the Convention. Australia disagreed with theestablishment of national funds for this purpose. Others proposedredrafting it.

Paragraph 3 addresses the availability of financialresources. Morocco and Algeria felt that this paragraph should beretained. Norway and Finland suggested that it remain inbrackets. Malaysia objected again to the presence of "Parties ina position to provide assistance" in this paragraph, since thiswould obscure the commitments of developed countries. The UKdisagreed. Canada could not support the phrase "new andadditional."

Paragraph 4 states that developed country Parties reaffirmtheir commitments to reach the accepted UN target of 0.7% of GNPfor ODA. Morocco and Algeria said this paragraph should beretained. Switzerland, Canada, Australia and Japan proposed itsdeletion. Norway, Sweden and Zambia supported placing it in thepreamble.

ARTICLE 23 -- FINANCIAL MECHANISMS: Egypt proposedreformulating the entire article to stress that the Conference ofParties will establish, no later than its third session, aspecialized mechanism for supporting and financing programmes ofaction. Norway, Canada and Japan questioned the benefits ofestablishing a clearing-house mechanism in paragraph 2.Switzerland, Japan Finland, Sweden, Canada and Norway proposeddeleting paragraphs 3 and 4, which deal with the establishment ofa special fund. Zambia and Kenya argued for its retention.Algeria suggested merging these two paragraphs.

PREAMBLE: The Chair opened the floor for comments on therevised text of the Preamble, as contained in documentA/AC.241/WG.I/CRP.1. The Holy See, supported by Mexico andBrazil, proposed adding a new paragraph that affirms that humanbeings are at the center of combatting desertification andmitigating the effects of drought. By the conclusion of theafternoon's discussions of paragraphs 1-19, the followingparagraphs still contained brackets:

  • 6. The EU wanted mention of trade to be qualified to include internal and foreign trade or deletion of the entire paragraph.
  • 7. The US is concerned that the phrase "economic growth, social development and poverty eradication are the first priorities of affected countries" does not apply to affected, developed countries.
  • 8. This paragraph , addressing the relationship between desertification and other socio-economic problems, still has two possible formulations.
  • 13. This paragraph mentions the sovereign right of States to exploit their own natural resources. Greece and Egypt said that since this is part of Principle 2 of the Rio Declaration either the entire principle should be quoted or it should be deleted. Pakistan responded that this is also part of the Climate Change Convention.
  • 14. This paragraph, stressing the important role of national governments in combatting desertification and the consequences of drought, contains two formulations that remain bracketed.
  • 16. Reaffirms the UN target of 0.7% of GNP for ODA. Greece wants this to remain bracketed until Articles 22 and 23 are agreed upon.
  • 19. This paragraph has two formulations that address the relationship between desertification and other [global] environmental problems. Problem areas include: the use of the term "global"; do these problems face both the international and national communities; and should specific problems, such as climate change, biodiversity, freshwater, land degradation and demographic pressure, be listed.


Discussions continued on procedural matters with the Chairexpressing her hope that the spring-like weather would putdelegates in the mood for compromise, friendship and sincerity.

ARTICLE 29 -- MEASURES TO PREVENT DISPUTES: This articleswas re-opened for discussion, but no further comments wereraised.

ARTICLE 30 -- SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES: Delegatesagreed to remove the brackets around paragraphs 2-6. They agreedto retain brackets around the new text proposed by Greeceoutlining a possible means of dispute settlement to read "...arbitration in accordance with the procedures adopted by the COPas soon as is practicable in an annex". Tunisia said that thisprejudges the fate of the Convention. The rationale is to avoiddrafting a new annex on arbitration.

Australia suggested an amendment to sub-paragraph 4, whichdetermines the expiration of a declaration in order to avoidinconsistency between the ratification and date of expiration.Given the lack of clarity of the amendment, the Chair asked thedelegates to discuss it among themselves and transmit theircomments back to the Secretariat.

Sub-paragraph 6 deals with settlement of disputesbetween parties, the UK suggested an amendment that identifiesthe three different types of dispute settlement techniques.

ARTICLE 31--STATUS OF ANNEXES: Argentina suggestedthat this article be considered together with Article 33 onAdoption and Amendment of Annexes. The Netherlands, supported byBenin and Egypt, said that the two were different issues thatshould be kept separate. The Latin American and Caribbean groupwas concerned that Article 31 would not provide sufficientrecognition to the other regional instruments. Benin, explainedthat this article does not preclude the COP from adding otherannexes. The article was adopted ad referendum.

ARTICLE 32 --AMENDMENTS: Agreement was reachedregarding Benin's proposal on a 2/3 voting majority. Sweden askedthe group to consider the need for a paragraph on protocols. Thisled to a protracted debate, which was resolved with delegatesagreeing to the term "annex", as agreed at INCD-2.

ARTICLE 33-- ADOPTION AND AMENDMENT OF ANNEXES: The LatinAmerican and Caribbean group was concerned that this articlediscriminates against other regional instruments that areexpected to be completed after the Convention. Paragraph 1proposes a different procedure for their adoption. Chinaconcurred and proposed a new paragraph 1 bis "An amendment to aregional implementation annex shall be proposed and adopted inaccordance with the procedure as set forth in article 32,provided that in adopting such amendment the majority voteprovided in that article, includes a 2/3 or 3/4 majority of thevotes represented and voting. The entire article was bracketed.

ARTICLE 34-38 --ADOPTION AND AMENDMENT OF ANNEXES; RIGHT TOVOTE; DEPOSITARY; SIGNATURE; RATIFICATION AND ACCESSION; ANDINTERIM ARRANGEMENTS: These articles were adopted adreferendum with minor amendments to articles 35 and 37.

ARTICLE 39-- ENTRY INTO FORCE: There was protracted debateon the appropriate number of ratifications for entry into forcewith most African countries favoring 30. All references to theoptional number of ratifications were bracketed.


WORKING GROUP I: In the words of the delegate of Mali,Working Group I will continue to tango (one step forward, onestep back) and waltz (around in circles) through the reviseddraft of the Preamble, to be followed by Article 2, Objective,and Article 3, Principles, as contained in documentA/AC.241/WG.I/CRP.1.

WORKING GROUP II: Look for an advance copy of theamendments on Part IV: Institutions (A/AC.241/WGII/CRP.5). TheWorking Group will complete its first reading of Articles 40, 41and 42 on procedures before beginning its second reading of thetext. An additional evening session is planned for 6:00 pmtonight. Discussion on the regional instrument for Africa shouldbegin on Wednesday.

IN THE CORRIDORS: Look for INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n to holdinformal consultations with members of the Bureau and theregional groups regarding a draft decision that he is preparing.The decision is expected to: 1) request the Secretariat torevise the negotiating text; 2) request the Secretariat topresent a draft instrument for Africa; 3) request the INCDto consider the drafts of other regional instruments atINCD-4; 4) request the Secretariat to prepare recommendations forthe interim period; and 5) call on the INCD to reaffirm itsresolve to complete the negotiations by June in accordance withResolution 48/191.


National governments
Negotiating blocs
European Union
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions