Daily report for 30 March 1994

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


Working Group I held its final session on Wednesday morning. TheSecretariat distributed a copy of the negotiating text based on theresults of the third reading. Skipping over the remaining bracketedparagraphs in the Preamble, the Chair guided delegates through someof the remaining bracketed sections and removed 25 pairs ofbrackets.

ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: Two versions of sub-paragraph (a)(national sovereignty over resources) were initially bracketed. TheUS agreed to delete the first option and accept the second one. TheUS still insisted on retaining the brackets around the entirearticle.

ARTICLE 7 -- PRIORITY TO AFRICA: Canada insisted onbracketing the word "ensure" in the second sentence on theprovisions of financial resources or other forms of support toaffected African countries. Benin pointed out that this sentence ispointless without the word "ensure." The Chair agreed and proposeddeleting the entire sentence. Delegates agreed and four pairs ofbrackets bit the dust.

ARTICLE 9 -- BASIC APPROACH: Two versions of paragraph 1(preparation of national action programmes) were bracketed. The EU,which had proposed the second version, suggested a compromise thatinvolved merging portions of the two versions. Paragraph 1 nowstates that existing successful plans and programmes, as well asrelevant sub-regional and regional programmes, will be the basisfor the preparation of national action programmes. Such programmeswill be updated through a participatory process and will beinterlinked with other efforts to formulate national sustainabledevelopment policies.

ARTICLE 14 -- MEASURES TO MITIGATE THE EFFECTS OF DROUGHT:The Chair proposed moving the entire article into Article 10(National action programmes) and creating a new paragraph 2bis. Brazil amended the chapeau to ensure conformity withArticle 10: "National action programmes may include, interalia, some or all of the following measures to prepare for andmitigate the effects of drought as a natural phenomenon." Delegatesagreed to combine the two articles. Paragraph (f) on cloud seedingremains in brackets.

ARTICLE 21 -- CAPACITY BUILDING, EDUCATION AND PUBLICAWARENESS: The G-77 and China circulated new text for paragraph4. The Group adjourned for 30 minutes so delegates could discussthis proposal. Despite the lack of unanimous support, it wasadopted with three amendments. The new paragraph establishes and/orstrengthens networks of regional education and training centres tocombat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought,coordinated by a created or designated institution, as appropriate.This network shall cooperate closely with relevantintergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to avoidduplication of effort.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Pakistan re-opened Article 12(Sub-regional and regional action programmes) and proposedreplacing "Affected country Parties" with "The Parties." He feltthat there might be problems with joint programmes for thesustainable management of shared resources if one of the Partiesinvolved was not "affected." The Chair said that this article hadalready been agreed upon and it should not be discussed. Pakistanresponded that the existing text was unacceptable and would eitherhave to be changed or placed in brackets. He assured Pakistan thatthis concern would be transmitted to Paris and that he would place"invisible brackets" around the phrase.

Working Group I concluded its work by adopting its report, ascontained in document A/AC.241/WG.I/L.3. The Chair thanked everyonefor their cooperation during this "voyage" and said they should allbe proud of the outcome.


The Working Group convened in the afternoon to completenegotiations on the outstanding issues of the main Convention andto discuss the Latin American regional annex.

ARTICLE 1 -- USE OF TERMS: Paragraph 1: Beninproposed an additional category for "affected developing countriesneeding assistance" that makes specific reference to Africanaffected countries. Brazil reiterated its opposition to Benin'sproposal, arguing that all developing countries need assistance.The proposal was bracketed. Sub-paragraph (j) (otherparties in a position to provide assistance), was opposed byArgentina, Brazil, Iran, China and Malaysia. Norway pointed outthat Agenda 21 actually refers to this category of countries. TheEU reiterated its support. It remains bracketed. On sub-paragraph (k), the Chair, supported by the EU, proposeddeletion of the brackets and the contents "or sub-region." Beninobjected and the brackets remain. The Chair proposed the deletionof paragraph 2, however, Benin requested its retentionwithin brackets.

ARTICLE 18 -- INFORMATION COLLECTION, ANALYSIS AND EXCHANGE:The Chair proposed deletion of the brackets around "asappropriate." No agreement was reached and the brackets remain.

ARTICLE 19 -- RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: The brackets wereretained around the word "existing" in the sentence referring toinstitutions.

ARTICLE 20 -- TRANSFER, ACQUISITION, ADAPTATION AND DEVELOPMENTOF TECHNOLOGY: China proposed the same language forparagraph 3 that was used in Article 19, paragraph 2. The EUopposed the proposal and the brackets remain.

ARTICLE 24 -- CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES: The Chair'sproposal to delete sub-paragraph (e) was accepted. Sub-paragraph(h) was deferred to the group dealing with financialmechanisms. Benin proposed deletion of the first two alternativesfor paragraph 6 (bureau) and the third version was retainedwith brackets around the last phrase (adequate representation ofAfrican countries on the Bureau).

ARTICLE 25 -- [PERMANENT] SECRETARIAT: The matter of"Permanent" will be settled in Paris. Sub-paragraph (c)contained several brackets. Benin preferred "facilitate assistanceto" over "advise," and requested particular reference to Africa, aswell as the deletion of the last bracketed phrase "in accordancewith Article 28." The EU preferred "advise." Both options remainbracketed.

In sub-paragraph (b), "submitted to it" was bracketed. Beninobjected and the text remains in brackets. The Chair proposed newwording for paragraph 2 bis: "The COP shall makerecommendations on the ways and means of implementing Article 20."Benin requested that the paragraph remain in its original form.Norway and the EU proposed its deletion, while Brazil called forits retention since it represents an important component of the"bottom-up" approach, and its deletion would not be fair to localpopulations.

ARTICLE 26 -- ADVISORY PANEL ON RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: Noagreement was reached on the new text submitted by the al-KassasGroup. Brazil proposed that the subsidiary body should be referredto as a council or committee, following language in the ClimateChange and Biodiversity Conventions. Everything remains inbrackets.

ARTICLE 27 -- NETWORKING OF EXISTING INSTITUTIONS, AGENCIES ANDBODIES: The EU supported the al-Kassas proposal. Brazil andIndia proposed bracketing the words in the first line of paragraph1, since the body to supervise the networking has not beendetermined.


Delegates praised the draft text for its brevity and clarity andsupported it as a good basis for discussion. Specific concerns wereraised by Northern governments regarding references in theDiagnosis section to: the linkages with economic trends; themention of the global problem of desertification; and the links tobiodiversity and climate change. Argentina said that the objectionsto the links with climate change and biodiversity were unfounded inlight of recent GEF discussions, where these links were actuallyconfirmed. He noted the various trade practices which distortinternational markets. Peru asked delegates to submit writtencomments to the Secretariat by 20 April to assist further drafting,which will take place from 3-5 May in Santiago, Chile.


The Group met in the morning and the evening and completed itspreparation of a single negotiating text of the African regionalimplementation annex.

COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF AFRICAN COUNTRY PARTIES:Despite consensus on the contents, the article was left in bracketspending agreement on the rest of the Convention.

COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRY PARTIES:There is still no consensus on this article, primarily becausedeveloped country Parties are reluctant to have their expectedcontributions expressed in fixed amounts, but also pending theoutcome of the negotiations on financial resources and mechanisms.

IMPLEMENTATION AND EVALUATION INDICATORS: This article wassubsumed into the article on preparation of national action plans,since it provides for the establishment of readily verifiableindicators for implementation assessment.

CONTENT OF NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: The text submitted bya sub-working group was adopted with minor changes. The articlelists measures to: improve the economic environment for povertyeradication; conserve natural resources; improve institutionalorganization; improve knowledge of desertification; and monitor andassess the effects of drought.

CONTENT OF SUB-REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: New text wasdistributed that summarizes the requirements for preparation of theprogrammes. The only outstanding issue is whether the proposedmechanisms for the management of shared natural resources forsub-regional action programmes would be established only "wherenecessary."

PREPARATION OF SUB-REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: This articlemandates the establishment of consultative processes within eachsub-region, supported by a task force of relevant sub-regionalinstitutions, to oversee the preparation of action programmes. Asummarized version of the required measures was submitted forconsideration.

ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES (ARTICLE10) AND CONTENT OF THE REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMME (ARTICLE 11):There was protracted debate regarding the need for these articles.Some delegates argued that monitoring and assessment measures areonly effective if they are undertaken on a regional basis. Bothremain bracketed. New text that merges the two was submitted butnot discussed.

STRENGTHENING OF UNITED NATIONS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS: Newtext was agreed that reads: "In accordance with Article 9 paragraph3 of this Convention, the Parties shall encourage funds, agenciesand programmes of the United Nations and other relevantinternational organizations to support African countries in theimplementation of the Convention."

FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION: There was consensus topostpone negotiations on this article pending the completion of thework of the Johnson/Sonko Group. It was also agreed that thesenegotiations be based on the second version that divides thearticle into three parts: financial resources, financialmechanisms, and technical assistance and cooperation.

COORDINATION AND PARTNERSHIP: The article calls forconsultative processes between various interested parties. Noconsensus was reached since some delegations felt the contents werecovered elsewhere.

FOLLOW-UP ARRANGEMENTS: The article was adopted with aclarification that the provisions are to be carried out by Africancountry Parties only.


The informal group under the coordination of Pierre-Marc Johnson(Canada) and Bolong Sonko (The Gambia) has been making progress inits consideration of Articles 22 and 23 on financial resources andmechanisms. As the basis for their discussions, they are examiningproposals submitted by the G-77 and China, Canada, and the EUstatement of 24 January 1994. The Group is trying to identify areasof convergence in these texts and in the positions of variousdelegations.


WORKING GROUP II: Working Group II will meet in a formalsession from 9:30 to 12:30 on the African regional implementationannex. At 12:30 a representative from the working group on theAsian annex will make a statement. The Working Group will completeits work and adopt its report by 1:00 pm.

PLENARY: The final Plenary of INCD-4 will convene at 3:00 pmtoday. The Chairs of the two working groups will submit theirreports and summarize the progress made during the past two weeks.INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n is also expected to summarize what has beenaccomplished so far and outline the preliminary plans andarrangements for the final session in Paris, which will take placefrom 6-17 June 1994. There will also be a progress report on thework of the Johnson/Sonko Group on financial resources andmechanisms. Look for revised versions of the Convention and theImplementation Annex for Africa to be circulated.