Daily report for 23 March 1994

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


The Plenary met briefly at 12:30 pm so that the Spanish Minister ofPublic Works, Transport and Environment, Jos‚ Borrel Fontelles,could formally introduce the Declaration of Almera, the product ofthe International Symposium on Desertification and Migration. Themeeting, which was held from 9-11 February in Almera, Spain,addressed the correlation between poverty, desertification andconflict. He urged the Committee to give greater attention todesertification-induced migration at various levels. He alsomentioned that representatives from Portugal, Spain, Italy andGreece recently met to discuss an annex to the Convention for thenorthern Mediterranean region. A representative of ENDA-TM, onbehalf of the NGOs, supported the Almera recommendations.


ARTICLE 11 -- FIELDS TO BE COVERED IN NATIONAL ACTIONPROGRAMMES: Discussion resumed on the second version of thisarticle in A/AC.241/15/Rev.1. After a rather lengthy and rhetoricaldiscussion on paragraph (c) on the economic environment, the Chairconcluded that agreement on both this paragraph and the entirearticle was not possible at this point. The Chair suspendeddiscussion since some delegates still question the placement ofthis article in the Convention, while others objected to specificparagraphs.

ARTICLE 12 -- SUB-REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Greece, onbehalf of the EU, suggested using the same language in this chapeauthat it proposed in Article 9 (all affected developing countryParties and those developed country Parties that voluntarily agreeto develop national action programmes). The US could not acceptthis language. China proposed deleting both Articles 12 and 13 andreplacing them with the following: "Affected developing countryParties shall consult and cooperate to prepare, as appropriate,sub-regional or regional action programmes, in accordance withrelevant regional implementation annexes." Several delegates wantedto examine this proposal so the Chair postponed discussion of bothArticles 12 and 13.

ARTICLE 14 -- MEASURES TO MITIGATE THE EFFECTS OF DROUGHT:The US and the EU reiterated their objection to this article. TheUS proposed moving paragraph (a) to Article 11, (b) to Article 10and (c) and (e) to either Article 10 or 11, and deleting paragraph(d). Benin, Brazil, Mali and Senegal argued for its retention.

Paragraph (a): The first set of brackets were removed andthe compromise text reads: "the establishment and/orstrengthening, as appropriate, of early warningsystems..." The second set of brackets was also removed and it nowreads: "...and mechanisms for assisting displaced persons."

Paragraph (c): Brackets were removed in the first part ofthis paragraph, which now reads: "the establishment and/orstrengthening of food security systems, including storage andmarketing facilities, particularly in rural areas." The secondpart, "better management of food aid," remains bracketed, sincesome delegations felt it is covered in other Conventions.

The language in paragraph (d) on alternativelivelihoods remains in brackets. Paragraph (e) was amendedto read, "development of sustainable irrigation programmesfor both crops and livestock." Saudi Arabia's proposal for a newparagraph, which would support research in the field of cloudseeding, was placed in brackets.

ARTICLE 14 BIS -- INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: The EU and theUS felt this paragraph was superfluous and should be deleted, butthe G-77 objected. It remains bracketed.

ARTICLE 15 -- SUPPORT FOR THE ELABORATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OFACTION PROGRAMMES: Delegates agreed to remove the brackets fromthe title.

Chapeau: Although brackets remain around the options forcategories of countries, the rest of the chapeau now reads:"...shall, as mutually agreed, support action programmes....Inproviding such support, priority should be given to Africancountries and the least developed countries. Supporting measures[shall][may] include..."

Sub-paragraph (a): As amended by the EU and the US, the new,simplified version reads: "financial cooperation to providepredictability for action programmes, allowing for necessarylong-term planning."

Sub-paragraph (b): The US, Sweden and the EU objected to thephrase "assistance-delivery mechanisms" and the first part of thetext was amended to read: "elaboration and the use of cooperationmechanisms..."

Sub-paragraph (d) was amended by the EU and Chile and nowreads: "and, as appropriate, administrative and budget proceduresthat increase the efficiency of cooperation and supportprogrammes."

ARTICLE 16 -- COORDINATION IN THE ELABORATION AND IMPLEMENTATIONOF ACTION PROGRAMMES: There were two versions of Article 16.The first version contained two options for paragraph 2 andAlgeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, introduced a thirdoption. This generated lengthy, and for the most part, confusingdebate. Consensus was finally reached to: (1) agree on paragraph 1of the first version; (2) retain paragraph 2 of the first versionwithout brackets, but with brackets around the words "needingassistance"; (3) transfer the second option for paragraph 2, asamended by the G-77, to one of the articles on finance (22 or 23)or the regional annexes; and (4) introduce a new paragraph 3 fromthe latter part of the second version of Article 16 that reads,"The purpose of such arrangements shall be to monitor....priorities mandated by the Convention."

ARTICLE 21 -- CAPACITY BUILDING, EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AWARENESS:Sub-paragraph 1(a) bis was accepted, although some delegatesthought research capacity was adequately covered in Article 19.

All brackets in sub-paragraph 1(b) were removed. The formulaused in other paragraphs, "establishment and/or strengthening, asappropriate," was accepted in the beginning. Sweden withdrew herobjection to the use of the term "natural" resources, and the otheroption, "land and water," was deleted.

Saudi Arabia called for the deletion of sub-paragraph 1(e),on training in the use of alternative energy resources. Ninedelegates took the floor and appealed to the Saudis, but they wouldnot concede and the paragraph is now bracketed.

Sub-paragraph 1(f), on capacity building for informationcollection, analysis and exchange, still contains brackets aroundtwo phrases. Some delegates thought both (f) and (g) were bettersuited to Article 18.

Paragraph 2: Although delegates agreed to delete the lastsentence, which was bracketed, a new set of brackets wasintroduced. Portugal proposed including the same language in thisparagraph as the EU had proposed for Articles 9 and 12. Since thishas not been agreed to, it was placed in brackets.

The two versions of paragraph 4 (education and trainingcentres) remain bracketed, since the G-77 and China are preparinga new proposal.


By the end of the day, the Secretariat had distributed the revisedtexts for Articles 1 (Use of Terms), 19 (Research and Development),20 (Transfer, acquisition, adaptation and development ofTechnology), and 24 (Conference of the Parties). Cameroon, Chair ofthe Sub-Working Group on Articles 18, 19 and 20, reported thatconsensus has been attained on most of Article 18. He expects thediscussions to be completed by the end of this week. The Group thenembarked on Part IV (Institutions) and discussed Articles 24 (TheConference of the Parties) and 25 ([Permanent] Secretariat). TheGroup adjourned the meeting early to allow a newly createdSub-Working Group (the fourth), chaired by Prof. al-Kassas (Egypt),to discuss the subsidiary bodies (Articles 26, 26 Bis, 26 Tir and27).

ARTICLE 24 -- CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES: Sub-paragraph2(a) was amended to read "periodically review, theimplementation... in light of the experience gained at thenational, sub-regional, regional and international levels."

Sub-paragraph 2(b): Algeria, supported by Benin and Brazil,and the EU made alternative proposals. The only agreement reachedwas that the COP should "review the reports and makerecommendations on them..."

Sub-paragraph 2(c) and (d) were adopted, but no agreementwas reached on sub-paragraph 2(e), which remains bracketed.

The EU proposed merging sub-paragraph 2(f) with paragraph3 to read: "Agree upon and adopt, by consensus, at its firstsession rules of procedure and financial rules for itself and anysubsidiary bodies. The rules of procedure, shall includedecision-making procedures from others not already covered bydecision-making procedures stipulated in this Convention. Suchprocedures may specify the majorities required for the adoption ofparticular decisions." Benin, Algeria and Morocco could not agreeto this formulation and the Chair asked delegations to consultinformally.

Sub-paragraph 2(g), which makes reference to Articles 32 and33, was not discussed. Sub-paragraph 2(h) empowers the COPto approve a comprehensive programme and regular budget either from"agreed assessed contributions" or the "regular budget" of the UN.No consensus was reached so the Chair urged delegations to consulton the issue.

Sub-paragraph 2(i): Canada supported the NGOs' proposal ontheir role in information dissemination, but the amendment wasbracketed, pending G-77 and China consultations. Sub- paragraph2(k) was shortened to: "exercise other functions as may benecessary for the achievement of the objective of the Convention."

Paragraph 5: Only the three-month notice required for anintended extraordinary meeting was agreed upon, and delegates wereasked to consult informally regarding the required 1/3 or 1/4support for such a meeting, and the proposal that the Bureau maycall the meeting.

Paragraph 6 on the composition of the Bureau has twooptions. The G-77 opted for the first and the EU for the second.The Chair suggested that they consult informally to attainconsensus.

In paragraph 7, which deals with observer status foragencies or States attending the COP, delegates agreed to deletethe brackets around "national or." However, no agreement wasreached regarding the brackets around the word "permanent."

ARTICLE 25 -- [PERMANENT] SECRETARIAT: No agreement wasreached on paragraph 1, which deals with the establishmentof the [Permanent] Secretariat, although the Swiss proposal thatstates, "The composition of the Secretariat will be decided by thefirst Conference of the Parties," was accepted as a paragraph 1bis.

Paragraph 2 lists the functions of the Secretariat. Sub-paragraph 2(a) was adopted. The discussion on sub-paragraph2(b) on compiling reports focused on questions of style, whichwere delegated to the Secretariat to resolve.

Sub-paragraph 2(c) was the subject of proposals from boththe EU and Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China. The EUproposal reads: "To advise affected developing country Parties, onrequest, particularly in Africa, in the compilation of informationrequired of them under the provisions of the Convention." The G-77proposed the deletion of the brackets around "needing assistance"and "the provisions of the Convention." No agreement was reached.

Sub-paragraphs (d),(f) and (g) were adopted. Although NGOsproposed that they participate in the coordination of activities inparagraph 2(e), the text was agreed to without amendment.

There were two versions of paragraph 3, which statethe COP shall designate the Secretariat. Delegates agreed to deletethe brackets around "permanent" in the first version and to retainthe brackets around the second version.

ARTICLE 26 -- DESERTIFICATION RESEARCH TECHNOLOGY AND EVALUATIONNETWORK AND ADVISORY COUNCIL: There are three versions ofArticle 26. After general discussion, it was agreed that a smallgroup, chaired by Prof. al-Kassas, would work out a compromise.


WORKING GROUP I: The first items on today's agenda areArticles 22 and 23 on financial resources and mechanisms. Followingthis discussion, the Group will return to the beginning and take updiscussion on the revised text of the Preamble and Articles 1 bis,2 and 3, which was distributed on Wednesday. Unless delegationshave consulted informally on the remaining bracketed text, it isunlikely that much progress can be made.

WORKING GROUP II: The Group will start discussions on PartV, Procedures, and the Regional Implementation Annexes, includingArticle 17. Look for continued informal discussions on thesubsidiary bodies and Articles 18-20.

UNEP PRESENTATION: There will be a technical presentationon the development of the databases for the UNEP World Atlas ofDesertification today at 2:00 pm in Salle XXVII.

PANEL DISCUSSION: UNEP will host a panel discussion on"Desertification: Confronting the Misunderstandings" at 6:00 pm inSalle XXVII.

IN THE CORRIDORS: Look for the Asian and Latin Americanregional groups to finalize their texts for the two regionalannexes today. These annexes are expected to be circulated todelegations on Friday. It is also possible that the northernMediterranean countries will have a draft regional annex ready forinformal discussion, yet it is not certain if this annex has thesupport of the other OECD countries.


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