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WORKING GROUP I

PRINCIPLES: The Chair, Ahmed Djoghlaf, reiterated that the purpose of this discussion is to enable the Secretariat to prepare a consolidated text for the next session. Canada said that after Tuesday's discussion they support a separate section on principles. He said that the list put forward by the African Group (paragraph 29(a) of document A/AC/241/12) was a good starting point. Australia later supported Canada and pointed out that there are other treaties that contain principles, including the Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions, CITES, the Law of the Sea, and the environment protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. The Chair added the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to this list. Benin added that the UN Charter also has a section on principles, pointing out that this is not a "new trend."

A number of countries, including Madagascar, Bolivia, Algeria, Cuba and Sudan, supported the list of principles put forward by Mali and Brazil on Tuesday, as well as the need for a separate section on principles. Norway and Finland suggested that this section should be based on the Rio Declaration.

Japan said that the principles should be incorporated in the preamble or the section on objectives. The US, supported by the UK, reserved its position on a separate section on principles, saying it is rare in treaty law. If principles are not intended to be binding, they should be in the preamble. If they are binding, they should be commitments.

When Egypt suggested using the principles in the Climate Change Convention, but changing the words to desertification, the Chair referred to C“te d'Ivoire's earlier statement regarding the need to avoid simple reproduction, since the problems of desertification are different from climate change.

Sweden, supported by India, said that the problems in this section can be resolved by asking the Chair and the Secretariat to summarize views and proposals and to present a text after the discussion on commitments.

OBJECTIVES: Most delegates supported the need for clear and concise objectives. Mali, on behalf of the African Group, suggested seven objectives: preventing and combating drought and desertification; halting land degradation; improving the living conditions of the populations in affected areas; cooperation and partnership; capacity-building; sustainable development; and developing organizational, scientific, technological and financial means (paragraph 37 in A/AC.241/12). These objectives were supported by Malaysia, Tanzania, Chad, Senegal, Ghana, Algeria, Gambia, Tunisia, Togo, Mauritania, Botswana, Sudan, Niger, Zambia, C“te d'Ivoire, and Pakistan. Kenya and Nigeria supported the African proposal, but mentioned that these objectives are not sacrosanct and could be strengthened by proposals from other delegations.

Belgium, on behalf of the EC, said that the objective should be to address the main causes of desertification and to maximize productivity. Any expansion of the objectives are, in fact, commitments. Germany said that the first of Mali's objectives, preventing and combatting drought and/or desertification with a view to achieving sustainable development, is the most important, followed by a strategy on poverty alleviation. France, supported by Norway and Sweden, suggested using paragraph 19 of document A/AC.241/7 that was presented at the Nairobi meeting.

Egypt stated that the Convention should not just focus on technical assistance to developing countries alone, since a number of industrialized countries also suffer from desertification. India said that the objectives should be international and not regional.

Canada supported some of the drafting suggestions in A/AC.241/12 in paragraph 38(c),(d) and (g). The Russian Federation supported the proposals made by Burkina Faso (paragraphs 38(c)) and China (38(e)). Bolivia suggested four objectives: combatting desertification and minimizing the effects of drought; promoting sustainable agriculture in these areas; eliminating poverty and promoting human development; and promoting, mobilizing and intensifying international cooperation.

Austria, Iran, Egypt and Finland said that the objectives should be focussed on desertification, not drought. Uganda and the Chair argued that drought and desertification are both part of the mandate for this Conference and should be kept together.

STRUCTURE AND NATURE OF COMMITMENTS: Most delegates were not prepared to discuss this section, however, Mali presented the draft proposals of the African Group. These include: scope of the Convention; strategy; measures to implement strategy; key elements of strategy; commitments; and linkages to global environmental conventions.

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