Daily report for 28 March 1994

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


The Plenary met Monday morning to hear Working Group progressreports and to review the situation on extrabudgetary funds(A/AC.241/20 and Add.1).

WORKING GROUP I: The Chair, Ahmed Djoghlaf, reported thatthe Group completed two readings of the articles mandated to it.Still to be resolved are: Articles 22 and 23 (financial resourcesand mechanisms), which are being dealt with in a contact groupcoordinated by Pierre-Marc Johnson (Canada) and Bolong Sonko (TheGambia); Article 13 (regional action programmes); and Article 14(international cooperation).

WORKING GROUP II: The Chair, Anne de Lattre, said that afterthe first reading of the text, the contentious issues are: thecategories of countries in Article 1; budgetary issues in Article24 (Conference of the Parties); and some sections on institutions.The Group has also completed a first reading of the ImplementationAnnex for Africa with many issues resolved over the weekend in aContact Group chaired by Benin.

EXTRA-BUDGETARY FUNDS: INCD Executive- Secretary Arba Dialloreported that due to lack of funds and bureaucratic obstacleswithin the UN in processing the funds, only 27 out of the expected70 participants from the LDCs were sponsored for this session. Hesaid that an additional US$400,000 is required to ensure theparticipation of these countries at the Paris session, of whichonly US$116,800 is currently available. To eliminate delays inprocessing the funds, the Secretariat said that donors shouldclearly indicate that the funds are for the INCD. Bolivia and Beninstressed the importance of LDC participation in the final, criticalphases of the negotiations. France, Sweden, Finland and UNEP allpledged additional funds. Diallo thanked Norway and Switzerland fortheir support for NGO participation.The Netherlands requested thatfuture reports should indicate clearly the source and use ofSecretariat funds.

BURKINA FASO: Anatole Tiendrebeogo, Minister for Environmentand Tourism, questioned certain government views regarding thesufficiency of resources to combat desertification and mitigate theeffects of drought. The amount of funds and mechanisms necessary toresolve these problems must be determined. He said that removingArticle 11 (fields to be covered in national action programmes)from the Convention amounts to reducing it to a frameworkConvention.

IFAD: Bahman Mansuri said that from their experience:African countries lack the financial capacity for long-terminvestment; resource degradation and poverty are interlinked andsolutions should provide for long-term investment for conservationin arid and semi-arid areas; to deal with poverty, the criticalfactor is how resources are spent; and a consultative processbetween donors, IGOs, NGOs and governments is necessary.


Working Group I began its third reading of the text on Monday.Articles 22 and 23 were not reproduced in the revised text, as theJohnson Group will be dealing with these articles on financialresources and mechanisms.

PREAMBLE: The Group removed the brackets from paragraph9 (relationship between desertification and social problems).The US insisted that paragraph 21 (relationship with otherenvironmental conventions) remain bracketed. The EU preferred thesecond alternative for paragraph 23, providing thatreference be made to donor coordination. In response to theconcerns of the G-77 and other delegates that this proposal wouldlimit coordination just to donors, the EU withdrew its proposal andthe second version of the text was accepted.

The Russian Federation proposed a new paragraph giving particularattention to the problems of combatting desertification and droughtin countries with economies in transition. The Chair noted thatthis proposal would remain bracketed pending review by the JohnsonGroup.

The G-77 and China proposed a new paragraph (using wording from theBiodiversity Convention) on the need for new and additionalfinancial resources and appropriate access to relevanttechnologies. The Chair, disappointed that this paragraph wasproposed at such a late date, referred this "financial article" tothe Johnson Group. The EU, the US and Japan supported the Chair.Malaysia appealed that the Johnson Group should not turn into agraveyard. It is bracketed.

ARTICLE 1 BIS -- SCOPE OF THE CONVENTION: This article wasdeleted, as it was unnecessary.

ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: Delegates agreed to delete thethird version of sub-paragraph (a) (national sovereignty overnatural resources), but kept the remaining two versions inbrackets. The second option for sub-paragraph (b) (popularparticipation in the design of action plans) was also accepted. TheUS insisted that the entire article remain in brackets.

ARTICLE 4 -- GENERAL OBLIGATIONS: The brackets were removedaround paragraph (b) on international trade, marketing arrangementsand debt.

ARTICLE 5 -- OBLIGATIONS OF AFFECTED COUNTRY PARTIES:Cameroon objected to the phrase "that support the application ofthe provisions of this Article" in paragraph 2 (affected developedcountries cannot receive financial resources under the Convention).He said this would imply the ability to accept only parts of thisConvention. The EU (who proposed the paragraph) agreed to deletethis phrase.

ARTICLE 7 -- PRIORITY TO AFRICA: Canada, Japan and the USstill have problems with the second sentence, which "ensures" theprovision of financial resources and other forms of support toAfrica. The Gambia proposed alternative text that gives priority toAfrica in the provision of financial resources, technicalassistance and other forms of support. Both the original text andthe Gambian proposal are bracketed.

ARTICLE 8 -- RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CONVENTIONS: The US andBenin insisted that brackets remain around paragraph 2 (protectionof rights under previously entered agreements).

ARTICLE 9 -- BASIC APPROACH (ACTION PROGRAMMES): Bothversions of paragraph 1 (development of national action programmes)remain bracketed pending further consultations within the EU.

ARTICLE 11 -- FIELDS TO BE COVERED IN NATIONAL ACTIONPROGRAMMES: As a result of the weekend work on the AfricanAnnex, delegates agreed to delete this article. The Chair willsubmit a new Article 11 on Tuesday regarding the principle ofnational action programmes that mentions that the details are inthe regional annexes.

ARTICLES 12 AND 13 -- SUB-REGIONAL AND REGIONAL ACTIONPROGRAMMES: The Chair asked if delegates could accept theChinese proposal that deletes the existing articles and replacesthem with an article referring to the regional annexes. Benincommented on the need to distinguish between regional andsub-regional action programmes. The Chair will circulate newlanguage, based on the Chinese proposal.


Working Group II was originally scheduled to discuss the revisednegotiating text of the Regional Implementation Annex for Africa.However, since the text was only distributed at the beginning ofthe afternoon, the Chair decided to postpone discussion until theevening session to give delegates a chance to review it. The Groupthen discussed outstanding articles.

ARTICLE 1 -- USE OF TERMS: The definition of terms preparedby the Group chaired by Prof. al-Kassas was accepted by the WorkingGroup. On sub-paragraphs (e) and (f), theChair noted continuing disagreement on the country categories.Benin preferred the second option for (f) on affected countriesneeding assistance. The US requested postponement of discussionssince it was awaiting further instructions from Washington. Onsub-paragraph (h) (regional economic integration), delegatescould not agree on the removal of the brackets around "sub-region."The EU felt it was superfluous, while the African Group maintainedthat its exclusion would be prejudicial to smaller groupings. TheChair asked the UK and Benin to work out compromise text. Onparagraph 2, no agreement was reached on the establishmentof a glossary.

ARTICLE 24 -- CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES: Paragraphs 1, 2 andsub-paragraphs 2(a)-(f) were adopted. On sub-paragraph(g), the EU requested retention of the brackets around "and33," pending resolution of Article 33 (Adoption and amendment ofAnnexes). Brackets were retained in sub-paragraph (h) onbudgetary matters. Sub-paragraphs 2(i)-(k), andparagraphs 3 and 4 were adopted, but no agreement wasreached on paragraph 5 (sessions of the COP). Both optionsfor paragraph 6 (Bureau) remain in brackets. Agreement wasreached on paragraph 7 (participation of observers), pendingdiscussion on the secretariat.

ARTICLE 25 -- [PERMANENT] SECRETARIAT: Paragraph 1now reads: "A [Permanent] Secretariat is hereby established." Noagreement was reached on the only remaining contentioussub-paragraph 2(c) (assistance to affected developingcountries). Delegates agreed to adopt the first option ofparagraph 3 (COP designation of the Secretariat), with thedeletion of "decide its location."


ARTICLES 18 (INFORMATION COLLECTION, ANALYSIS AND EXCHANGE), 19(RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT) AND 20 (TRANSFER, ACQUISITION,ADAPTATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY): The Group consideredand adopted Articles 18, 19 and 20, based on the results of theContact Group chaired by Cameroon. All the brackets in thesearticles were eliminated, except for the references to thecategories of countries, which will be resolved upon agreement ofArticle 1.


The Working Group then made preliminary comments on theImplementation Annex for Africa, synthesized by a Contact Groupchaired by Benin, based on last week's discussions of documentA/AC.241/19.

SCOPE: It delineates the areas as arid, semi-arid and drysub-humid, was left in brackets. The UK said the text should bedeleted because it was not necessary.

PURPOSE: The chapeau and paragraph (c) wereapproved with minor changes but (a) and (b) remainbracketed. The UK, supported by other developed countries, wanted(a) deleted, as it is inappropriate for regional groups todecide on the degree of assistance to be provided by the Parties.

PARTICULAR CONDITIONS OF THE AFRICAN REGION [AND BASICAPPROACH]: The UK did not understand the reasoning behind "andbasic approach" in the title. France thought the title should read"existing particular conditions." Benin and others disagreed andthe brackets remain. Australia, Sweden and the US wanted to deletethe first sentence (adopting a basic approach) in the chapeau. Itremains bracketed. Sub-paragraphs (a), (c), (e) and(h) were agreed to. There was no agreement whether there isan "increasingly" frequent recurrence of severe drought and, thus,sub-paragraph (b) still contains brackets. Benin amended(d) to include "assistance in the form of grants, subsidiesand loans on concessional terms." The US objected to the term"subsidies." Brackets remain in (f) since there is noagreement to use demographic "trends and factors" or "pressures."Brackets also remain in (g). The Africans want to "improveinstitutional and legal frameworks," while others feel that it isa descriptive article and should read "inadequate... frameworks."

COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF AFRICAN COUNTRY PARTIES:Australia, supported by Japan and Norway, suggested the deletion ofthis article. They felt that it was duplicative of the Conventionand, thus, ill-suited to the annex. Benin acknowledged that whilethe Convention contains general commitments, each annex shouldcontain region-specific commitments. Cameroon questioned thejustification of non-African nations in questioning theappropriateness of African countries choosing to undertake specificcommitments. The UK said that if non-African countries are to beParties to the annex, then it was appropriate for them to commenton the article. Despite Uganda's impassioned appeal, the articlewas bracketed.

Paragraph 1: Germany and France suggested thatsub-paragraph (a) should be rephrased to state: "combatingdesertification should be the central strategy..." There were nocomments on (b) and (d). The US suggested expansionof (c) to include other bodies. In (e), Norwaysuggested replacing "emergency plans" with "contingency plans." TheUK suggested removal of the words "and other natural disasters,"since they are outside the scope of the Convention.

Paragraph 2: Germany, supported by the UK, suggesteddeletion of the chapeau. The UK suggested that it should berephrased: "African country Parties shall aim to:" The US suggesteddeletion of reference to "prolonged drought" in sub-paragraph(e).


WORKING GROUP I: The Group will continue its third readingof the text. Look for the Chair to circulate new text for Articles11 and 12/13, which will probably be addressed first. If necessary,the Chair may convene an informal session in the afternoon toaddress the remaining outstanding issues.

WORKING GROUP II: The Group will continue discussion of theWorking Paper on the regional annex for Africa. Due to timeconstraints, the Chair may establish a Contact Group. If timepermits, the Group may take up a second reading of Articles 26 and27.