Daily report for 26 January 1994

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


Working Group I completed its second reading of Articles 6-17, ascontained in documents A/AC.241/WG.I/CRP.2 and 3. The Chairmentioned at the outset that Article 5, sub-paragraph (e), whichwas deleted on Tuesday, would be retained in brackets at therequest of some delegations.

ARTICLE 6 -- OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRY PARTIES [ANDOTHERS IN A POSITION TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE]: The major issue inthe title and chapeau of this paragraph remains the phrase "andothers in a position to provide assistance." Various formulationsstill remain bracketed. Paragraph (a) addresses the need to supportthe efforts of affected [developing] country Parties [needingassistance]. Paragraph (b) contains brackets around the provisionof financial resources to assist in the development of long-termstrategies and plans. Paragraph (c), which mentions the allocation0.7% of GNP for ODA, remains bracketed.

ARTICLE 7 -- PRIORITY TO AFRICA: Iran and Sweden wanted toensure that other affected regions are not neglected in thisConvention, while giving priority attention to Africa. The G-77'sproposed text was generally acceptable. It now reads: "Inimplementing the provisions of this Convention, the Parties shallgive priority to affected African countries in light of theparticular situation prevailing in this region, while notneglecting other affected [developing] regions. This priority willbe also applicable in the context of the Regional ImplementationAnnex for Africa."

ARTICLE 8 -- RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CONVENTIONS: The G-77proposed new language for the first paragraph that relates tocooperation between this Convention and other relevantinternational agreements. The second paragraph, which reads "Theprovisions of this Convention shall not affect the rights andresponsibilities of any Party deriving from a bilateral, regionalor global agreement into which it has entered prior to the entryinto force of this Convention for it," remains bracketed.

ARTICLE 9 -- BASIC APPROACH: Recurring definitional problemsarose with regard to "developing country Parties," "affectedParties," "Parties in a position to provide assistance" and"Parties needing assistance." Paragraph 1 discusses the obligationto prepare, make public, and implement national, subregional andregional action programmes, through interregional coordination andcooperation. Paragraph 2, which is heavily bracketed, deals withsupport from developed country parties [and other Parties in aposition to provide assistance] for affected [developing] countryparties [needing assistance] in the preparation of actionprogrammes. Paragraph 3 now reads: "The Parties shall encourageorgans, funds and programmes of the UN system and other relevantorganizations, academic institutions, the scientific community andNGOs in a position to cooperate, in accordance with their mandatesand capabilities, to support the elaboration, implementation andfollow-up of the action programmes."

ARTICLE 10 -- NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Australia'sconsultations on this article resulted in text that was largelyacceptable. The focus is on the purpose of national actionprogrammes, which is to identify the factors contributing todesertification and the practical measures necessary for itsprevention. These programmes should: incorporate a long-termstrategy; allow for modification in response to changingcircumstances; give priority to preventive measures; encouragecooperation; provide for effective local and nationalparticipation; and require regular review on implementation. Therewas still disagreement among delegations as to the notion ofpartnership. The US proposed a new sub-paragraph: "enhance nationalmeteorological and hydrological capabilities and the means toprovide for and apply the early warning of drought."

ARTICLE 12 -- SUBREGIONAL AND REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES:This article in CRP.3 was the result of merging the articles onsubregional and regional action programmes in the original text.Many African delegates preferred keeping these concepts separate sothe merger was reversed. The same definitional problems in Article9 arose in this discussion. Other problems that emerged included:the use of the terms "shared resources" or "transboundaryresources" and "affected" or "degraded" ecosystems. Sub- paragraph(d), which mentions alternative sources of energy, remainsbracketed, as requested by Saudi Arabia. The US bracketed (f),which mentions trade practices. Article 12 bis now containsregional action programmes.

ARTICLE 16 -- COORDINATION IN THE ELABORATION AND IMPLEMENTATIONOF ACTION PROGRAMMES: The brackets were removed from paragraph1, which now reads: "Contracting Parties shall work closelytogether, directly and through relevant intergovernmentalorganizations, in the elaboration and implementation of actionprogrammes." Discussion on paragraph 2, which stressescoordination, was deferred, pending new text to be submitted by theUS.

Discussion on Articles 11 (Fields to be covered in national actionprogrammes), 13 (Measures to mitigate the effects of drought), 14(International cooperation), and 15 ([Assistance in][Support for]the elaboration and implementation of action programmes) wasdeferred and the articles remain bracketed. Delegates agreed totransfer Article 17, Regional Implementation Annexes, to WorkingGroup II.


The Working Group devoted two sessions to an exchange of views onthe regional instruments. The evening session was devoted to thesecond reading of the Convention.

REGIONAL INSTRUMENT FOR AFRICA: INCD Executive-SecretaryArba Diallo summarized the Secretariat's work undertaken so farwith the regional instruments. He also reviewed the Secretariat'sdraft annex for Africa, document A/AC.241/17, and called forguidance regarding the type of document needed to facilitate thedevelopment of an annex for Africa. Egypt noted that theSecretariat's document provides all the background information andideas needed for preparation of the regional instruments andannexes for any region. He also suggested that brief regionalinstruments should address: the action to be taken; thetransnational issues and problems; and the technical and financialresources needed at the national and sub-regional levels.Mauritania noted that the financing element was missing from theSecretariat's document. Benin noted that the annexes will enableeach region to highlight its specific problems and approaches. Headded that the African countries are not prepared to have theConvention and the African annex "held hostage" to the conclusionof the other regional annexes. France suggested that the regionalannexes should be operational, based on national action plans, andshould improve the management of resources. Botswana noted that theAfrican annex should be specific regarding the activities to beundertaken in the field.

Switzerland suggested that existing mechanisms should be used forallocating financial resources. He also called for betterintegration of the case studies into the regional instruments.Colombia called for a timetable for the negotiation of the otherinstruments to ensure that the Convention and the regionalinstruments will be adopted simultaneously. Colombia also urgedthat the regional instruments for Latin America and Asia receivethe same juridical status as the African instrument. Canada,supported by Austria and Brazil, insisted that the regionalinstruments must not be duplicative of the Convention or the actionprogrammes. Rather, the annexes must be considered as connectinginstruments between the Convention and the action programmes. Onthe Secretariat's document, Canada noted that responsibilities forregional organizations, the specificities of regional cooperation,and the resources needed should be mentioned. Canada supportedSwitzerland and the US in the need for more emphasis on Africa inthe Convention. Russia echoed previous delegates' call for theannexes to focus attention on specific features of each region. Hesuggested the creation of a mechanism to periodically review theregional annexes. The US noted that the legal status of theregional instruments is still problematic. He also noted theprobability that few donor countries will be able to provide newand additional resources. The US said that the document does notreflect a bottom-up approach.

Cameroon noted that the OAU text should be referred to by theSecretariat in the development of the regional annexes. He saidthat it is important to allow the African countries to draw uptheir own instrument. Australia said the primary goal is toconclude a Convention that is strong and effective and that givespriority to the most affected regions. She also noted thedifficulty in agreeing on the form and content of the regionalinstruments before the Convention is concluded. She also suggestedthat the regional instruments should be the vehicles for theimplementation of the Convention. France suggested that a theregional instruments should define the regional institutional andadministrative aspects of implementation of the Convention. Greece,on behalf of the EU, suggested that the instruments of otherregions, such as the Northern Mediterranean, should not beoverlooked. He added that difficulties will arise if the otherregional instruments are not completed by June 1994. TheNetherlands stated that clear distinction should be made betweenthe regional instruments and the regional action programmes. Headded that the instruments should only cover matters specific tothe region. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, said that regionalinstruments should be considered as integral to the Convention. Headded that the instruments should be seen as the operational facein the struggle against desertification and drought. Norwaysuggested that the annexes should be short, descriptive rather thanprescriptive, technical rather than political, flexible andparticipatory. She also added that the results of the case studiesshould be reflected. She noted that Norway would have difficultiesin ratifying the Convention if only one of the regional instrumentswas ready in June. Spain suggested that the Mediterranean should beconsidered within the framework of the African instrument. Swedennoted two categories of information that should be addressed in theregional instruments: elements to be included in the actionprogrammes and reference to the elements of effective follow-up.Gambia expressed concern regarding Spain's proposal and the call byseveral delegates that the other regional instruments must be readyby June.

ARTICLE 18 -- INFORMATION COLLECTION, ANALYSIS AND EXCHANGE:Consensus was reached on 1(a)(ii), which now reads: "encompassmeteorological, agro-hydrological, and biological data andstations." 1(a)(iii) calls for use and dissemination in anappropriate, targeted and effective way, modern technology for datacollection, assessment and transmission on land degradation.

Sub-paragraph 1(c): Consensus was reached that thestatement, "including, inter alia, resource inventories,data banks and integrated sets of physical, biological, social andeconomic indicators," be deleted from this paragraph that calls forthe support and further development of appropriate bilateral andmultilateral programmes.

Sub-paragraph 1(e) stresses the need to give full weight tosocio-economic data and integrating it with physical and biologicaldata. It was retained, but moved to 1(a)(v).

Sub-paragraph 1(f): Consensus was reached on a US proposalthat reads "exchange and make fully, openly and promptly available,information from all publicly available sources relevant to thecombat of desertification and the mitigation of the effects ofdrought."

ARTICLE 1 -- USE OF TERMS: Consideration of this article wasdeferred until the March session since the revised document was notyet available in French.

ARTICLE 24 -- CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES: Delegates agreed todelete paragraph (c), which provides for the assessment of theimplementation of the Convention, and (d), which mandates the COPto make recommendations, since these elements are in the chapeau.Paragraph (a) outlines the review tasks of the COP and stillcontains several brackets. Paragraph (b) provides for the COP topromote and facilitate information exchange and determine theregularity of transmission. Consensus was not achieved that thiswas to be done "in accordance with the provisions of Article 28"that relates to procedures in communication of information andimplementation. Paragraph (g) is bracketed as it refers to thelisting of countries that has not been agreed upon. Paragraph (h),regarding the adoption of the rules of procedure, was maintainedwith the addition of the phrase "and amendments pertainingthereto." There could not be consensus on paragraph (i) on the COPamendment procedures until Article 33, Adoption and amendment ofannexes, is negotiated. Paragraph (j) on finances is bracketeduntil the issue is discussed by Working Group I.


WORKING GROUP I: Working Group I will begin discussingdocument A/AC.241/WG.I/CRP.4, which contains reformulations ofArticles 21 (Capacity building, education and public awareness), 22(Financial resources), and 23 (Financial mechanisms). Afterconcluding its second reading of the Convention, the Group willadopt its report.

WORKING GROUP II: The Group will continue its second readingof the amended texts. The Group will start with discussions on theConference of Parties, as contained in documentA/AC.241/WG.II/CRP.5. Look for document A/AC.241/WG.II/CRP.6,Procedures and Final Clauses, which was circulated yesterday.

IN THE CORRIDORS: INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n has decided not toprepare a draft decision to be adopted by the Committee, as he hadannounced on Monday. Instead, he expects the final Plenary sessionon Friday to only adopt the final reports of the session. He isexpected to give a closing statement, which will outline progressmade during this session and expectations for the next session ofthe INCD.