Daily report for 29 March 1994

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


Working Group I completed its third reading of the text. Thebrackets around Articles 11, 12, 13 and 14 bis were removedduring this reading. The Group did not discuss Articles 15 and 16since they are related to the financial issues, which are beingdiscussed by the contact group under the leadership of Pierre-MarcJohnson (Canada) and Bolong Sonko (The Gambia).

ARTICLE 11 -- FIELDS TO BE COVERED IN NATIONAL ACTIONPROGRAMMES: The Chair circulated new text for Article 11 thateliminated the list of fields and said that guidelines for thefields to be covered in national action programmes shall be setout, as appropriate, in the Regional Implementation Annexes. The UScommented that Working Group II is considering moving elements outof the regional annexes and back into the Convention and should beconsulted before Article 11 is finalized. Brazil, Uzbekistan,India, Peru, Uruguay and Austria supported the Chair's proposal.Benin argued that some of the fields from the original text shouldbe included. Kenya, Mali and Cameroon insisted that this listshould be included in the Convention and not only in the annexes.

When the session reconvened in the afternoon, the G-77 and Chinaproposed new text that would replace Article 11 and appear asArticle 10 paragraph 3. This proposal included a chapeau and anabbreviated list of fields to be covered. Delegates amended thisproposal to read: "Taking into account the situation andrequirements specific to each affected country Party, nationalaction programmes include, as appropriate, inter alia,measures in some or all of the following priority fields as theyrelate to combatting desertification and mitigating the effects ofdrought in affected areas and their populations: promotion ofalternative livelihoods and improvements of national economicenvironments with a view to strengthening programmes aimed ateradication of poverty and ensuring food security; sustainablemanagement of natural resources; development and efficient use ofvarious energy sources; [demographic policies;] institutional andlegal frameworks; strengthening of capability for assessment andmonitoring, including hydrological and meteorological services andcapacity building, education and public awareness."

Canada, supported by several other delegations, proposed theaddition of "sustainable agriculture practices" to this list. Noteveryone agreed. The Chair decided to include it, pending furtherdiscussion.

ARTICLES 12 AND 13 -- SUB-REGIONAL AND REGIONAL ACTIONPROGRAMMES: Based on Monday's discussions, the Chair proposednew simplified formulations of these articles. Syria preferred theoriginal Article 12, which listed specific measures to be taken.Bangladesh, supported by a number of delegates, said it couldsupport the Chair's proposal if it was amended to include referenceto the management of shared resources. During a lengthy, yetproductive, discussion, delegates produced compromise text thatcontains brackets only around two words, upon the insistence ofSyria and the US. The revised Article 12 is now called"Sub-Regional and Regional Action Programmes" and reads: "Affectedcountry Parties shall consult and cooperate to prepare, asappropriate, in accordance with relevant regional implementationannexes, sub-regional and/or regional, action programmes toharmonize, complement and increase the efficiency of nationalprogrammes. The provisions of Article 10 shall apply mutatismutandis to sub-regional programmes. Such cooperation [may]include agreed joint programmes for the sustainable management oftransboundary [natural] resources, scientific and technicalcooperation and strengthening of relevant institutions."

ARTICLE 14 -- MEASURES TO MITIGATE THE EFFECTS OF DROUGHT:Saudi Arabia insisted that sub-paragraph (f) on cloud seedingremain in brackets, although others thought the paragraph wasbetter suited for the article on research. The US insisted that theentire article remain bracketed until resolution of the definitionof "drought."

ARTICLE 14 BIS -- INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: The EU agreedto remove the brackets.

ARTICLE 21 -- CAPACITY BUILDING, EDUCATION AND PUBLICAWARENESS: Three versions of paragraph 4 (education andtraining centres) remain in brackets. The Chair suggestedsubmitting all three versions to Paris, however, Algeria reportedthat the G-77 and China were working on a new formulation. Thediscussion was suspended.


The Group completed preliminary discussions on the regionalimplementation annex for Africa. Due to the painstakingly-slow paceof negotiations on the African annex Monday evening, and the needto complete the final negotiating text by Wednesday afternoon, INCDChair Bo Kjell‚n proposed that the Working Group continue formaldiscussions on the text during the Tuesday morning session, andbreak into an informal Group for the afternoon and eveningsessions. The Rapporteur of the Working Group, Frederick G. Mallya(Tanzania), was appointed Chair of this Group.

COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF AFRICAN COUNTRY PARTIES:Australia wanted to delete paragraph 2 that stipulates thefinancial and decentralized reforms to be undertaken by the Africancountry Parties.

COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRY PARTIES:Japan objected to the retention of this article, since annexes donot typically contain commitments, unless the instrument is to betreated as a protocol requiring separate ratification. Benin saidthat the inclusion of obligations and commitments in the annex doesnot make it a protocol. The US preferred to amend paragraphs(a)-(e) on financial, technological, research and povertyeradication obligations, but the EU wanted to delete them.

STRATEGIC PLANNING FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:There was no consensus on paragraph 1, which stipulates the statusof national action programmes in sustainable development plans. TheEU amended paragraph 2, which provides for a consultative processin developing strategies. Sweden said the paragraph belongselsewhere.

TIMETABLE FOR PREPARATION OF ACTION PROGRAMMES ANDIMPLEMENTATION INDICATORS: The US and Norway amended paragraph1 to read that African country Parties "shall initiate, asappropriate," the action programmes soon after the adoption of theConvention. In response to Japan's query, Benin explained that theterm "in the context of a prompt start," was included to ensurethat the action programmes are completed by the time the Conventionenters into force. However, Australia said this provision would notbe binding on any Party since the Convention will not yet haveentered into force. The Secretariat explained that such a provisioncan be made either in Article 38 or by a special resolution.

CONTENT OF NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: The article has twoalternatives, the first of which details the issues to be covered.The EU, US, Canada and Saudi Arabia preferred the second version,which provides strategies, while the African Group preferred thefirst version. No agreement was reached, pending discussions onArticle 11 in Working Group I.

PREPARATION OF NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: The articleprovides for the identification of a specific administrative bodyas a catalyst, in each of the affected country Parties, andoutlines its functions. The EU merged and amended paragraph (f) andthe chapeau of (g). Paragraph (g)(iii) on finances was bracketedpending the outcome of discussions on Articles 22 and 23 (financialresources and mechanisms).

ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK OF SUB- REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES:Greece did not see the need for this article, but Benin affirmedthe importance of sub-regional cooperation. China saidsub-paragraph (d) should be deleted, as it was already covered inthe chapeau.

CONTENT OF SUB-REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Germanyquestioned the need for establishing new mechanisms for resourcemanagement. France and Benin thought that a smaller group shouldreview this article.

PREPARATION OF SUB-REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Germanyrequested clarification on the definition of "partnershipagreement." Benin said that Germany's question highlighted the needfor specific terminology.

ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK OF REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES:Delegates agreed to place the reference to Article 13 of theConvention in brackets since Working Group I was consideringmerging Articles 12 and 13. Canada acknowledged the need forharmonization of activities, but questioned the need for an articlespelling out the contents of regional action programmes.

CONTENT OF THE REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMME: Benin affirmed theimportance of regional action programmes, since they can accomplishcertain activities that States may be unable to do on their own.The Gambia noted the cross-boundary effects of desertification andthe need for coordination at the continental level. The UKquestioned the expense of such elaborate programmes.

STRENGTHENING OF THE UN AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS: Canada,supported by the UK, France and Japan, called for the deletion ofthis article, claiming that such a reference did not belong in theAfrican instrument. The UK suggested alternative wording: "TheParties shall work together in the governing bodies of the UN toassist African country Parties in implementing the Convention."Benin felt this proposal would exclude the wider UN bodies.

FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION: Australia, supported byCanada, Austria and Japan, suggested that since these provisionsare important, they should be framed as commitments and placed inthe main Convention. Benin acknowledged the rationale ofAustralia's proposal, but affirmed the necessity of this article,and expressed the African Group's preference to divide the articleinto three parts: financial resources, financial mechanisms, andtechnical assistance and cooperation. Senegal stated that thisarticle could be incorporated in both the Convention and the annex.

TRANSFER, ACQUISITION, ADAPTATION AND ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTALLYAPPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY: The US, supported by France, statedthat the article added nothing to the provisions of Article 20 inthe main Convention, which already places priority on Africa. Beninemphasized the need to reiterate the importance of the issue in theannex.

COORDINATION AND PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: The articlecontains two alternative versions: the first underscores the needfor partnership agreements through consultative processes and thesecond emphasizes donor consultation and coordination. Agreementcould not be reached. Senegal explained that the second alternativewas originally suggested as a possible paragraph 6. Germany hadproblems with "partnership agreements," if they are only in theform of consultative groups.


By the conclusion of the afternoon session, the Group agreed on thearticles on Scope, Purpose, and Particular Conditions of theAfrican Region [and Basic Approach]. The key outstanding issuesare: African country Party commitments, finance provisions and thecontents of the action programmes. The article on commitments haspolarized developed and African countries, with the former arguingthat the presence of such an article makes the annex resemble aprotocol and may set a dangerous precedent for the other regionalannexes that will be concluded. Negotiations continued into theevening.


There was discussion in the corridors after several Africandelegates in Working Group I commented that the regionalimplementation annexes would not be accorded the same legal statusas the main Convention. According to paragraph 2 of Article 31 ofthe Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, "The context for thepurpose of the interpretation of a treaty shall comprise, inaddition to the text, including its preamble and annexes."Furthermore, Article 31 of the draft Convention also states thatthe Regional Implementation Annexes form an integral part of thisConvention. Needless to say, there should be no doubt that theannexes are just as legally binding as the Convention itself.


WORKING GROUP I: Look for a revised version of the text tobe distributed in Working Group I today. The Group is expected todo one last reading of the remaining bracketed sections of the textthat do not deal with financial issues or definitions. Theseinclude: paragraph 21 of the Preamble; two new paragraphs in thePreamble proposed by the Russian Federation and the G-77/China,respectively; Article 3 (Principles); Article 7 (Priority toAfrica); Article 8, paragraph 2 (Relationship with otherConventions); Article 9, paragraph 1 (Basic Approach); Article 10,paragraph 3 (Fields to be covered in national action programmes);Article 12 (Sub-Regional and Regional Action Programmes); Article14 (Measures to mitigate the effects of drought); and Article 21,sub-paragraph (f) (energy) and paragraph 4 (training centres).Since this is the last meeting of the Working Group, it willconclude the day by adopting its report.

WORKING GROUP II: The Group will continue negotiations onthe regional annex for Africa Wednesday morning, and adopt thefinal texts of both the regional annex and the Convention Wednesdayafternoon. Look for new text on the African annex, based onnegotiations during Tuesday's informal sessions.