Wednesday morning's meeting of the Razali Group was scheduled to continue the discussion on the convention to combat desertification and/or drought. However, Pakistan, on behalf of the G-77, requested that this discussion be postponed until the G-77 had the opportunity to review all proposed amendments to the text. Razali announced that discussions on this topic will resume on Friday, 13 November and then opened a paragraph-by-paragraph discussion on the Chair's draft resolution on institutional arrangements to follow up the UNCED (A/C.2/47/WG.I/CRP.10).
The G-77 advocated deleting most of the preamble as it repeats parts of Chapter 38 in Agenda 21. A number of developed countries disagreed, stating that these paragraphs (especially preambular paragraphs 2-4) are important and should be retained, if not further elaborated. New Zealand recommended adding a paragraph to the preamble that reaffirmed the participation of NGOs, the scientific community and major groups. Pakistan later responded that the issue of NGO participation should be left to the operative part of the resolution, not the preamble. Razali suggested that they postpone the discussion of NGOs until they get to the operative paragraph on NGO participation. Discussion on the preamble concluded with a suggestion by India, supported by China, Kenya and Pakistan, that the preamble be confined to paragraphs 1 and 5. These two paragraphs welcome the adoption of Agenda 21 and take note of the report of the Secretary-General on institutional arrangements to follow-up the Conference.
Discussion then moved on to the operative paragraphs of the resolution. Paragraph 3 and sub-paragraphs (a) through (j) list specific functions of the Commission, as recommended in paragraphs 38.13, 33.13 and 33.21 of Agenda 21. Paragraph 4 sets out additional functions of the Commission not mentioned specifically in Agenda 21. The lengthy discussion of these two paragraphs revolved around the functions of the Commission. Delegates expressed the following concerns: whether the Commission be limited to those functions elaborated in Chapter 38; whether it should include functions related to finance, as stated in Chapter 33; if it should act as the international review mechanism for the forestry principles and/or the Rio Declaration; and finally, if it should be charged with updating Agenda 21. Some countries believed that the functions of the Commission should be limited to those outlined specifically in Agenda 21. Others preferred giving the CSD as dynamic and flexible a mandate as possible. Finally, a number of countries, including Finland, the EC and New Zealand, suggested the deletion of sub-paragraph 4(d) that states that the Commission should consider "submissions of relevant international institutions outside the United Nations system, including the Earth Council and the International Center for Sustainable Development Studies." Countries objected to this paragraph as it singled out two institutions to the exclusion of all other relevant ones.
Paragraph 5 outlines the Commission's functions relating to financial resources. The G-77 was not satisfied with the Chair's formulation and suggested that this paragraph be replaced with paragraph 6 from the G-77 position paper. Japan, France and the US did not think that this paragraph was even necessary, as these functions were outlined in paragraph 3.
The last paragraph discussed was paragraph 6, which deals with the Commission's membership. China and the G-77 advocated a flexible policy for the designation of representatives and that the confirmation of delegation members not be left to the Secretary-General. Pakistan also advocated replacing paragraphs 6 and 7 with paragraphs 2-4 of the G-77 position paper. Razali indicated that the replacement of entire paragraphs was not a position he advocated. New Zealand, supported by Vanuatu, stressed that in addition to having membership based on equitable geographical distribution, there should also be rotational fairness and no permanent or even semi-permanent members, so that all countries who wish to serve on the Commission will have the opportunity to do so. There did not appear to be consensus on the number of States on the Commission. Razali's draft leaves open three options: 24,53 or 54.
The next meeting of the Razali Group is scheduled for Friday afternoon, 13 November, when the Group will continue its discussion on desertification. Discussion of the Commission is scheduled to resume on Saturday morning, 14 November.
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