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WORKING GROUP II

Working Group II continued the previous day's discussion on the topic of institutions. The Chair, Anne de Lattre, reported that after consultations with the INCD Chair, Bo Kjell‚n, discussion on regional instruments would be postponed until the second week. She proposed that the Working Group continue with discussions on institutions and then proceed to the section on procedures, annexes and final clauses. The Chair also stated that she would not distribute her summary until the discussion on technology transfer had been completed. She pointed out that the summary is not intended to serve as a basis for consultation or discussion but, rather, as a means to stimulate additional suggestions. The Chair noted the need for additional consultations on regional instruments and mentioned Kjell‚n's suggestion that the Working Group have a brainstorming session on this topic.

INSTITUTIONS: Uzbekistan opened the general discussion by noting that consensus had not yet been reached on the institutions section. He urged delegates to reach agreement on the question of subsidiary bodies and suggested that monitoring centres, as proposed by the African Group, should be established. Despite the apparent agreement for such monitoring centres, there appeared to be some question whether to establish new institutions for such purposes or to strengthen existing ones. Countries supporting the establishment of new institutions included Benin, Cameroon and Uzbekistan. Those countries who prefer strengthening existing institutions for such objectives, included Kenya, Zimbabwe, India and Australia, who urged that UNEP be relied on to the greatest extent possible. Australia clarified his government's offer to host one of the subsidiary bodies. Zimbabwe urged that at least the monitoring body should be based in Africa. The issue of the establishment of a scientific and technical advisory body was not resolved by the group. The Philippines questioned the cost-effectiveness of such a body.

Botswana stated that desertification and drought are of such great importance that it is necessary to have an independent body on technical matters that works closely with other institutions focussed on related issues. Botswana also reminded delegates that WMO had offered to provide facilities for such a body. Burkina Faso supported Botswana's statement and added that the struggle in Africa against desertification is a struggle for survival. This point was echoed by Cameroon and Madagascar. Burkina Faso explained that although some delegates had noted at the Nairobi session that certain affected areas are tourist spots, in Africa, the question of combatting desertification is not a question of promoting tourism, but rather a question of survival for those people affected by the scourge of desertification. Thus, if new institutions are to be established, governments should support them, so they will be able to effectively combat desertification. In response to these comments, the representative from UNEP stated that UNEP's Nairobi office has been involved in desertification control measures and monitoring activities for many years. He stated that UNEP would do whatever it could to assist the implementation of the Convention.

The Environment Liaison Centre International spoke on behalf of NGOs and stated that NGOs favor the establishment of a Conference of the Parties (COP) as the supreme decision-making body for the Convention. NGOs expressed their wish to be able to attend these meetings as observers. The representative also stated that one of the most important functions of the COP is to review progress made in combatting desertification. The NGOs suggested that countries should submit progress reports and that a Secretariat should be established with an NGO liaison unit.

After the conclusion of the discussion on institutions, Norway, supported by the US, proposed that Working Group II discuss the topics of capacity building, education and public awareness, currently assigned to Working Group I, in light of the close link between these topics and those subjects discussed by Working Group II over the last few days. Several delegations, including Malaysia and Benin disagreed. Benin pointed out that to alter Plenary Decision 1/3 on the mandates of the groups by deferring a topic from one Working Group to another is a complex matter. It was agreed to maintain the Working Group mandates.

The Chair proposed that the rest of the day be devoted to discussion of the procedural matters, except the annexes. After some discussion, it was decided that the procedural topics would be addressed during the second week as they related directly to the topic of regional instruments. It was agreed that the Working Group would adjourn for the rest of the day, to provide regional groups with the opportunity to meet.

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