Daily report for 22 March 1994

4th Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification


At breakneck speed, Working Group I discussed nearly 10 articles.Although the Chair had hoped to limit discussion to the bracketedtext and not entertain any new proposals, this was not the case. Asa result, approximately nine paragraphs still contain brackets,five were agreed to, two were deleted entirely and two are newlybracketed.

ARTICLE 1 BIS -- SCOPE OF THE CONVENTION: Algeria, on behalfof the G-77 and China, proposed new text. The Chair suggested thatthe Group return to this article after delegates have had a chanceto review it. He added that although this language on the scope wasvalid for the Biodiversity Convention, it may not be appropriatehere.

ARTICLE 2 -- OBJECTIVE: Greece, on behalf of the EU, andCanada suggested deleting the second paragraph, which refers tolong-term integrated strategies. The G-77 requested that it beretained. The paragraph remains in brackets.

ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: Although there is still noagreement on whether this article should remain in the text,delegates agreed to discuss it. They accepted an EU proposal forsimplified language for the chapeau: "In order to achievethe objectives of this Convention and to implement its provisions,the Parties shall be guided, inter alia, by the following:".

There were two alternatives for paragraph (a) on nationalsovereignty. Some delegates preferred the second option, which isagreed language from the Biodiversity and Climate ChangeConventions. The G-77 and Bolivia proposed retaining bothparagraphs and possibly merging them. Nothing was resolved.

Delegates reached agreement on paragraph (b), which nowreads: "the Parties should ensure that decisions on the design andimplementation of programmes to combat desertification and theconsequences of drought are taken at the lowest possible level inadministrative structures, down to the local community level, andthat an enabling environment is created at higher levels tofacilitate local action." Finland proposed compromise text onparagraph (d). It now reads: "the Parties should develop,in the spirit of partnership, cooperation among all levelsof government, communities, NGOs and landholders to establish abetter understanding of the nature and value of land resources..."A number of delegates proposed amendments to paragraph (f)as to whether the Convention should take into consideration thespecial needs of "developing countries," "affected or threatenedcountries," "least developed," or those "particularly in Africa."Nothing was resolved. Paragraphs (e) and (g) weredeleted.

ARTICLE 4 -- GENERAL OBLIGATIONS: The US, Japan and the EUthought that the specific references to debt, market conditions,exchange rate variations, pricing and trade policies had beendeleted from paragraph 2(b). Benin, Senegal and Algeria (onbehalf of the G-77 and China) insisted that these references shouldbe retained. Nothing was resolved. Since Paragraph 2(h)addresses financial resources and mechanisms, the Chair suggestedthat discussion of this paragraph be postponed, pending agreementon Articles 22 and 23.

ARTICLE 5 -- OBLIGATIONS OF AFFECTED COUNTRY PARTIES: Thebrackets around paragraph (e) were removed after Australiaproposed compromise text that reads: "...strengthening asappropriate relevant existing legislation..." Greece, on behalfof the EU, proposed a new paragraph (f) that states thataffected developed countries are not eligible for financial supportunder this Convention. Some countries did not understand therationale for this and it was placed in brackets.

ARTICLE 6 -- OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRY PARTIES:Discussion was postponed, as requested by the G-77 and China.

ARTICLE 7 -- PRIORITY FOR AFRICA: The G-77 and Chinaproposed new language ensuring the provision of financialresources, technical assistance and other forms of support toassist affected African countries. The text is bracketed.

ARTICLE 8 -- RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CONVENTIONS: SaudiArabia proposed deleting this article, but the Africans argued forits retention. The US pointed out that the second paragraph willhave to be revisited once the rest of the Convention is completed.Both paragraphs remain in brackets.

ARTICLE 9 -- BASIC APPROACH (ACTION PROGRAMMES): Only twophrases in paragraph 1 were bracketed and the G-77 and Chinapreferred that it read "developing country Parties," deleting thephrase "needing assistance." The EU proposed new text for thisparagraph that states that all affected developing country Partiesand those developed country Parties that voluntarily agree to do soshall develop national action programmes, using a participatoryapproach. Although some countries felt they could accept parts ofthis proposal, they wanted more time to consider it. Otherspreferred the original text. Both options were bracketed.Paragraph 2 still contains brackets since there is noresolution yet on the definitional problems surrounding listings ofcountries.

ARTICLE 10 -- NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Sub-paragraph2(b) was amended by the US to read that national actionprogrammes should be able "...to cope with differentsocio-economic, biological and geo-physical conditions."Sub-paragraph 2(d) was amended by the US to "enhancenational climatological, meteorological and hydrobiologicalcapabilities..." China, Malaysia, and India opposed reference to"partnership" in sub-paragraph 2(e). Brazil recommendedusing the compromise proposed by Finland in Article 3: "in thespirit of partnership." This was acceptable. Paragraph 3will remain bracketed until Article 11 is discussed.

ARTICLE 11 -- FIELDS TO BE COVERED IN NATIONAL ACTIONPROGRAMMES: Two versions of this article appear in the text.China, Brazil, Uruguay and India believed that this article isbetter suited to the regional annex for Africa and should bedeleted. The African Group and Austria supported its retention. Ifit is retained, most delegates preferred the second version.Regarding the chapeau, it was agreed that brackets would beretained around the words "developing," "needing assistance,""shall," and "and their populations." Paragraph (a) oncapacity building, education, technical cooperation and finance wasaccepted without any amendments. Regarding paragraph (b),the US and Sweden had a problem with poverty eradication as one ofthe fields to be covered. Benin said poverty eradication is the keyto the entire Convention. The phrase "poverty eradication" isbracketed.


Prof. al-Kassas reported that the Sub-Working Group on Article 1(Use of Terms) met Tuesday morning with almost all regionsrepresented. All the technical terms on sub-paragraphs(a),(b),(c),(d) and (h) have been revised and the final text inEnglish will be distributed later. The Group proceeded to discussArticles 18, 19 and 20.

ARTICLE 18 -- INFORMATION COLLECTION, ANALYSIS AND EXCHANGE:No consensus was reached on the chapeau, which urges Partiesto integrate and coordinate information collection, analysis andexchange. The EU proposed deleting the sentence regarding earlywarning. The UK's proposal to delete the redundant phrase, "Inmeeting their obligations under the Convention," in Article 18, wasadopted and applied to Articles 19 and 20.

Paragraph (a) and Sub-paragraphs (i),(ii) and (iii) weremerged and amended to read "facilitate and strengthen thefunctioning of a global network of institutions and facilities forinformation collection, analysis, exchange and monitoring at alllevels, which shall inter alia, [endeavor to use] compatiblestandards and systems, encompass relevant data and stationsincluding in remote areas, and use and disseminate moderntechnology for data collection, transmission and assessment..."

Sub-paragraph (iv) was retained at the insistence of Sudan.Paragraph (g), stressing the need to compensate and protectindigenous and traditional knowledge, was left in brackets pendingdiscussion of the same issue in Article 20. Canada wanted this textto be consistent in the use of the terms "local," "indigenous" or"traditional" knowledge, and a clarification of what constitutes"appropriate" or "adequate" compensation.

ARTICLE 19 -- RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: Paragraph 1:Delegates amended the text to read: "The Parties undertake topromote technical and scientific cooperation in the fields of[combatting] desertification and the mitigation of the effects ofdrought through appropriate national, sub-regional, regional and[existing] international institutions. To this end, they shallsupport research activities that:".

The last part of sub-paragraph 1(b) now reads, "..thatimprove the living standards of people in the affected areas."Sub-paragraph 1(c) was left in brackets. Sub-paragraph1(d) now reads "develop and strengthen national andsub-regional research capabilities especially in affected[developing] countries [needing assistance] including thedevelopment of local skills and the strengthening of appropriatecapacities, in countries where the research base is very weak,giving [greater importance][due attention] to [appropriate]multi-disciplinary and participative socio-economic research:".No consensus was reached on sub-paragraph 1(e), whichaddresses the relationship between poverty and desertification.

Paragraph 2 was revised with research priorities to beincluded in both the regional implementation annexes and thenational action programmes, to be reviewed by the Conference of theParties. Reference to the Permanent Secretariat's task inmaintaining an inventory of research institutions was deleted.

ARTICLE 20 -- TRANSFER, ACQUISITION, ADAPTATION AND DEVELOPMENTOF TECHNOLOGY: The Chair asked the different regionalgroups to work out compromise language on paragraph 1 sinceconsensus could not be reached.

Sub-paragraph 1(b): The EU wanted to delete the reference to"facilitating access for developing countries on favorableterms..." There was some discussion that the language here shouldbe consistent with Chapter 34 in Agenda 21. Canada proposed thatrelevant language from the Biodiversity Convention should be usedinstead. Discussion was postponed. Sub-paragraph 1(c) and(d): Several delegations suggested merging these two paragraphsand two alternatives were provided by the EU, supported by the US,and Morocco, supported by Benin. The EU proposal urges Parties to"facilitate and extend technology cooperation relevant tocombatting desertification, through financial assistance, wheremutually agreed, or other appropriate means." Morocco proposed thatParties "facilitate and extend technology cooperation amongaffected country Parties, particularly among those, in Africa, inthe fields of combatting desertification, and including sectorsthat foster alternative livelihoods through financial assistance orother appropriate means." Discussion was postponed.

Sub-paragraph 1(e): Consensus text was provided by the EU,which reads: "take appropriate measures to create domestic marketconditions and incentives, fiscal or otherwise, conducive to thedevelopment, transfer, acquisition and adaptation of suitabletechnology and knowledge..." Sub-paragraph 1(f) had threeoptions which were reduced to two by merging the two last options.The first option remains as is. The third option was also retainedwith brackets placed around the phrase, "and ventures betweensuppliers and recipients of relevant technologies..."

There was no consensus on paragraph 2, which stresses theneed to either, "protect, promote and use" or "give specialattention to the protection, promotion and use" of relevanttraditional and local technology, know-how, knowledge andpractices. The EU, supported by Cameroon, preferred the secondalternative, while Brazil preferred the stronger language. The USsupported the EU and added: "subject to their national laws."

Sub-paragraph 2(a): Sweden pointed out that the bottom-upapproach to information dissemination was getting lost and calledfor new wording. Cameroon and Brazil suggested compromise text:"make inventories of such technologies, knowledge, know-how andpractices, and its potential uses with the participation of thelocal populations and disseminate information on this subject,where appropriate, in cooperation with relevant intergovernmentaland non-governmental organizations." This paragraph was notdiscussed further.

The Chair noted that discussion on Articles 18(g), 19(e) and mostof Article 20 presented problems and proposed creation of anotherSub-Working Group. This Group, chaired by Cameroon, will meet eachmorning to discuss Articles 18, 19 and 20.


WORKING GROUP I: The Working Group, which is ahead ofschedule, will resume discussion with the second version of Article11, paragraph (c) on improvement of the economic environment. TheGroup is then expected to work its way through the rest of Article11 and the other articles in Part III, Section 1 of the Conventionon action programmes (Articles 12, 13, 14, 14 bis, 15, and 16. Iftime permits, it will also consider Article 21 (Capacity building,education and public awareness).

WORKING GROUP II: The Working Group will complete discussionof Article 20 and then proceed to discuss institutions. Look formeetings of the Sub-Working Groups chaired by Benin (working on theFrench language text of the draft Convention) and Cameroon(Articles 18, 19 and 20). Look for new text based on Tuesday'sdiscussion of Articles 18, 19 and 20.

IN THE CORRIDORS: Look for regional group consultations tocontinue on the regional annexes for Asia and Latin America. Thesetwo groups met Tuesday morning to discuss the draft texts forregional annexes developed in Fortaleza and Bangkok during theintersessional period. The regional groups hope to reach agreementso that text can be transmitted to the INCD. Working Group II maydiscuss these two regional annexes in an informal session, perhapsas early as Friday night.