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PLENARY

It was "d‚j… vu all over again" in a day reminiscent of the final hours of the Nairobi session. INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n once again practiced a unique form of shuttle diplomacy as he strode from regional scrum to regional scrum, attempting to broker a compromise between the G-77 and the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) on the draft decision on the future work of the Committee.

Plenary was originally scheduled to convene at 11:00 am to address the Chair's draft decision. At 11:30, however, Kjell‚n announced that negotiations between the heads of the regional and interest groups were going well and there had been an agreement ad referendum. He explained that regional group consultations were underway and that he hoped that the Plenary could convene shortly. At 1:15 pm, Kjell‚n convened the Plenary for a five minute session to announce that the meeting would resume at 3:00 pm. He said that he hoped in the meantime that the regional groups would agree to the remaining points in the text so that the Plenary could quickly adopt it. In spite of all of the best intentions, however, this was not to be the case.

At 4:20 pm, Kjell‚n convened the Plenary once again to announce that the consultations had led to an almost complete agreement on the draft decision on the future work of the Committee, yet there still was one outstanding problem -- the "global" nature of desertification. Kjell‚n went on to explain that the draft contains a decision by the INCD with an annex containing a draft resolution for adoption by the General Assembly. The decision recalls the establishment of the INCD, the decision on the organization of work and the link established between the global dimension of desertification and the particular effects in each region. The draft resolution to be submitted to the General Assembly states that the INCD shall hold one session after the adoption of the Convention, not later than 31 January 1995, in order to review the situation in the interim period pending the entry into force of the Convention, in particular with regard to the implementation of the provisions adapted to the specific needs of each region. The interim arrangements reflect the "prompt start" procedures used in the climate change negotiations. The draft decision also requests the Secretariat to continue to support the preparation of a regional instrument on Africa, similar instruments for Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, and to consider other affected regions. Kjell‚n said that he was requesting approval, at that time, but expressed his assumption that the text was acceptable to all countries and would thus be transmitted to the formal Plenary session on Friday for adoption.

Colombia, on behalf of the G-77, pointed out that the paragraph in dispute is the third preambular paragraph in the annex. This paragraph reads: "Recognizing that "desertification and/or drought affects all continents and is thus a problem of global dimension and that concrete measures have to be taken in all regions, particularly in Africa, within the framework of the Convention." The G-77 maintains that desertification and/or drought should be considered a global problem in the broadest sense possible. The reference to "affects all continents," does not sufficiently convey the global dimension of the problem. The G-77 argues that the global dimension of desertification and drought deals not only with spatial and physical aspects, but the social and economic aspects as well. Lack of consensus on this particular concept is the primary reason for disagreement on this particular paragraph.

Kjell‚n proposed that this decision not be discussed at that time, but rather at the Plenary Friday morning. El Salvador took the floor to support Colombia's statement. Australia, on behalf of WEOG, said that they can accept the text. She pointed out that if paragraph 3 in the annex is still under discussion, then paragraph 3 of the actual decision, which contains similar language on the "global dimension" of desertification and/or drought, is also under discussion. Kjell‚n stated his personal conviction that the spirit of compromise would prevail. Benin, Brazil and India echoed the Chair's statement. The Chair closed the meeting highlighting the importance of reaching a satisfactory agreement.

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