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PLENARY

INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n opened the afternoon plenary that focused on his non-paper on the modalities for the negotiation of the regional agreements. He said that he hoped to prepare a draft decision this week for adoption by the end of this session. El Salvador stated the Latin American and Caribbean Group's position developed at the Mexico City Experts' Group meeting, particularly that the difficulties with desertification in each region should be taken into account, and reference to the African agreement as a blueprint for subsequent regional agreements should be deleted. India supported the Latin American position and highlighted the need for cooperation. He also called for the legal implications to be addressed before actual negotiations begin. Benin, on behalf of the African Group, expressed concern that the discussions seemed to be taking a step backward, due, in part, to a lack of continuity within delegations. He noted that the text before the Committee was not a draft decision to be negotiated, but a document aimed at stimulating the exchange of views. He urged the regional groups within the G-77 to exchange views among themselves before presenting them to the Plenary. Malaysia stated that South-South cooperation should not be singled out and that no one authority should tell the South how to cooperate. Instead, reference should be made to the need for international cooperation, especially in light of the fact that such cooperation has been lacking since Rio. Australia made several key points that were later supported by the UK, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Norway, US, and Italy. These points included: the need to focus on the linkages between the Convention and the regional instruments; assessing the financial and human resource implications of carrying out the case studies; the viability of extending the INCD mandate, the timing of possible further work and the cost implications; the need to address the legal issues related to the regional instruments as well as the nature and content of the Convention itself. Australia added that work on regional instruments could prejudge the Convention. Spain, supported by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Portugal, proposed that the INCD also consider an instrument for developed countries.

Austria said it was necessary to clarify the legal issues, especially the question of whether a State can be a party to the Convention without being party to at least one of the regional instruments or vice versa. He also stated that case studies should not be considered a prerequisite to the negotiation of a regional instrument. Norway expressed concern regarding the viability of negotiating the regional agreements at this point in light of the lack of time and financial resources. She suggested focussing on the Convention at this point, with a view to negotiating regional instruments once the Convention is concluded. Germany suggested that the negotiation of regional instruments be deferred to the first Conference of the Parties, so as not to hold the Convention "hostage to an unknown number of protocols." Germany also highlighted the difficulties of ensuring funding for the INCD process beyond 1994. This point was echoed by Botswana who stated that the fundamental issue that has plagued these negotiations is the inadequacy of resources. He questioned how all the various regional instruments would be financed. Egypt highlighted the global implications of desertification by noting that of the 99 countries suffering from desertification, 81 are developing and that of the total area affected 2.1 billion hectares are in industrialized countries and 3.1 billion in developing ones. He called for a global Convention that addresses the problem of desertification without the need for further instruments. He suggested that discussion of this topic be deferred until the Committee decides on the nature and scope of the Convention. Zimbabwe suggested first dealing with the Convention and then negotiating additional instruments, if necessary.

Kjell‚n summarized the afternoon's discussions and noted that he would conduct further consultations on the question of regional instruments.

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