Daily report for 15 June 1994

5th Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification


The Group considered Articles 4, 8 and 5 before adopting the AsianAnnex Wednesday morning.

ARTICLE 4 -- NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: The Philippinesinsisted on the retention of the bracketed phrase "and thoseexperiencing serious drought and/or desertification" in thechapeau. He stated that some Asian countries will feel marginalizedif this phase is not retained. However, following a discussion onArticle 8, it was agreed to delete the bracketed text.

ARTICLE 8 -- COOPERATION AND COORDINATION MECHANISMS: The USproposed that "and other country Parties in the region" should beincluded after "Affected country Parties" in the chapeau, to meetthe concerns of some of the Asian countries. Malaysia added "asappropriate" to the US proposal. The Philippines agreed to this aslong as "in the spirit of Articles 16 to 19 in the Convention" wasincluded in the chapeau. After a discussion about the scope of theArticle, it was agreed to leave it out. In sub-paragraph 1(d) itwas decided, as proposed by the US, that "requirements" should bedeleted and the brackets around "request" be removed to ensureconsistency with the Latin American Annex. The text now reads:"identification and determination of external cooperationrequests." Article 3 remained in brackets pending resolution ofArticle 23 in the main Convention.

ARTICLE 5 -- SUBREGIONAL AND JOINT ACTION PROGRAMMES: At theinsistence of the Philippines, and after lengthy debate, delegatesamended paragraph 1 to read: "In accordance with Article 11 of theConvention, affected country Parties in Asia may mutually agree toconsult and cooperate with other country Parties, as appropriate,to prepare and implement a sub-regional or joint actionprogrammes...." In addition, paragraph 3 was amended to accommodateSyria's concerns. It now reads, "Sub-regional and joint actionprogrammes may include agreed joint programmes for the sustainablemanagement of transboundary natural resources related todesertification, priorities for coordination...."


The meeting was scheduled for one hour beginning at 12:00 noon.Since there were still outstanding issues, the Chair re-convened acontact group, chaired by the US, which met for 45 minutes. Theinformal working group resumed at 1:15 pm. The US reported on thepossible consensus on the chapeau of Article 18, paragraph 3. Itreads, "African country Parties shall organize at the national,sub-regional and regional levels consultative processes and thesecretariat may, at their request in accordance with Article 23 inthe Convention, assist them on appropriate [administrative]arrangements for the convocation of the consultative group. Theseconsultative processes may, inter alia:" The US alsoconfirmed his observation on Tuesday that sub-paragraph 2(b)iii wasaltered since the 30 March text. It should read, "...population andmigration policies...." The session adjourned after the US report.Informal consultations continued in the late afternoon.


The Chair convened a brief plenary in the afternoon to hearstatements from four Eastern African ministers. At the end of thePlenary, Kenya announced that it will contribute US$5,000 to theSecretariat Trust Fund.

DJIBOUTI: Omar Chirdon Abass, Minister of Agriculture and RuralDevelopment, reminded delegates of the urgency of thedesertification problem in his country, which, if inadequatelyaddressed, will soon become irreversible. He noted that Djibouti isa pastoral and nomadic country with an unprecedented crisis facingits traditional livelihoods. He challenged the internationalcommunity to exercise its responsibility in providing sufficientfinancial resources.

ERITREA: Dr. Tesdai Germazien, Minister of Agriculture,noted the devastating environmental effects of Eritrea's 30-yearwar of independence with Ethiopia. He noted that Eritrea has sparedno effort in combatting its environmental problems. These effortswould not have been possible without the involvement of NGOs. Headded that his country is now ready to prepare a national actionprogramme on desertification.

UGANDA: Victoria Sekitoleko, Minister of Agriculture, AnimalIndustry and Fisheries, said that the problem of desertificationand drought emanates from poverty. She stated that the real issueis not the actual amount of money to be provided, but rather thespirit in which it will be given. She said that time must not bewasted in establishing new institutions "while deserts grow."Instead, what is needed is a small secretariat to coordinate theConvention. She noted that project money channelled into Africararely achieves concrete results. Africa must be empowered toensure effective project completion and follow-through. She alsourged the participation of women.

ETHIOPIA: Gedio Asfan, Vice-Minister of the Ministry ofNatural Resources, Development and Environmental Protection, saidthat desertification is a global problem that requires globalcooperation. It is a problem that affects and is affected byclimate change. He also noted the need to treat equally theconventions on climate change, biodiversity and desertification.


There was lengthy discussion of elements to be included in Article24 during Tuesday night's meeting of the Chair's Group. Based onthese discussions, INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n circulated a non-paperWednesday afternoon. The text proposes the establishment of asessional Committee on scientific and technological matters alongthe lines of Article 9 in the Climate Change Convention. Thenon-paper also proposes the establishment of a roster ofindependent experts to be nominated by Governments. This rosterwould be available for consultation in whatever way the COPdecides, in the form of panels to give advice on specific subjectsor problem areas. Some members of the G-77 appeared to support thisproposal, since it would give them influence on the choice ofscientists. Some OECD countries still expressed concern that sucha roster of "experts" would tend to contain more policy makers anddiplomats than true scientific experts. Nevertheless, the Chair washopeful that the ideas in this non-paper could be accepted by theCommittee.


Numerous consultations took place on Wednesday on financialresources and mechanisms (Articles 20 and 21). By mid-afternoon, itappeared as though the US proposal for a Global Mechanism (toincrease the effectiveness and efficiency of bilateral andmultilateral assistance programmes) had gained acceptance withinthe OECD. While members of the G-77 commented that they wereprepared to relinquish the idea of a specialized fund, theyexpressed concern that the proposed Global Mechanism still did notaddress the need for developed countries to commit to the provisionof resources to finance the implementation of the Convention.

At 4:00 pm, a small group convened to discuss these issues.Approximately eight OECD delegates and eight G-77 delegates metwith Pierre-Marc Johnson and Bolong Sonko. No Secretariat membersor observers were present and participants tried hard to limit themeeting to one member per delegation. Discussions were said to beof a general nature at first, with no specific text undernegotiation, although an OECD text was on the table. At 7:30 pm,discussions were still underway and many were of the opinion thatif progress was being made, the discussions would continue into thenight.


Takao Shibata (Japan) has been consulting with heads of delegationson his draft resolution on the urgent measures to be taken duringthe interim period (between the adoption of the Convention and thefirst meeting of the COP). The draft resolution apparentlyrequests: the preparation of national and sub-regional actionprogrammes, or a review of existing ones; developed countries toprovide the support necessary, consistent with their developedcooperation policies; assistance and necessary funding fromrelevant organizations, including the UN and its agencies, theprivate sector, NGOs and other international and multilateralorganizations. Additionally, the draft resolution mentions theestablishment of national coordinating bodies, where necessary, aswell as the establishment of partnership arrangements to facilitatethe coordination of activities. It also invites countries toprovide information on how they could assist and the actions theywill take, when they sign the Convention.

Several groups held consultations Wednesday afternoon to discussthe draft. There was generally a positive response, but somedelegations are concerned that the proposals are still too generalas they assign responsibility to "no one and everyone." Accordingto some, the resolution should be more specific in answering fourquestions: who, what, when and how.


During the meeting of the Chair's Group Tuesday night, delegatesdiscussed the draft resolution on interim arrangements(A/AC.241/L.20). Apparently, one of the contentious issues wasparagraph 4, which requests the Secretary-General to makerecommendations to the General Assembly at its forty-ninth sessionregarding arrangements for further sessions of the Committee untilthe first meeting of the Conference of Parties. Some OECD delegateswere concerned with this "open-ended" request and proposed insteadthat arrangements should be made for one further session in 1996.They further proposed that should further sessions after 1996 bedeemed necessary, the INCD will make the necessary request to theSecretary-General.


The legal clean-up squad, under the chairmanship of Fred Mallya,has been quite busy over the past few days in the UNESCO basement.On Tuesday, they completed their "toilette juridique" of the mainConvention (except for the outstanding articles). On Wednesday,they completed their review of the regional implementation annexesfor the Northern Mediterranean and Latin America. They are expectedto embark and complete work on the Asian and African AnnexesThursday morning.


The remaining issue in the African Annex is the exact role thesecretariat would play in the consultative processes convened atthe regional, sub-regional and national levels. This is also theoutstanding issue in the regional implementation annexes for Asiaand Latin America and the Caribbean. The developing countriesprefer not to have a secretariat, which would only play anadministrative role. The developed countries are concerned thatomission of the qualifier "administrative" leaves open thepossibility of a large secretariat that would also deal withtechnical matters. The late afternoon consultations also seemed tohave produced consensus text on Article 18, paragraph 4 (role ofregional and sub-regional coordinating bodies).


PLENARY: The Plenary is expected to meet briefly at noon tohear statements from the Minister of the Environment of Tunisia andthe President of IFAD.

OTHER MEETINGS: There is a slight possibility that aninformal meeting of the Plenary will be held this afternoon toreview the texts of the Convention and the regional annexes.However, if consultations on the outstanding issues are stillunderway, this meeting may prove to be the dream of optimists.There may be a meeting called to formally adopt Articles 13, 14 and18 of the Regional Impelmentation Annex for Africa. Check theJournal and the television monitors for more information onmeetings that may occur throughout the day.

NGO ACTIVITIES: During this week, NGOs have been preparinga document that would create a network for future NGO cooperation.This document is expected to be completed and, possibly, circulatedduring the day.

INFOBAHN ON-RAMP OUTSIDE SALLE III: Earth NegotiationsBulletin team members will be previewing their newInternet-based computer information service called "Linkages: AMultimedia Resource for Environment and Development Policymakers."Visit the computer outside Salle III today for demonstrations inEnglish and French.


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