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FUTURE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE

At the conclusion of the first session of the INCD in Nairobi, delegates were unable to reach consensus on the negotiation of regional instruments, while ensuring priority for Africa. This issue was included in a draft decision prepared by the Chair on the mandate of the working groups. This draft decision was not adopted by the Committee as the text was unacceptable to Brazil, Mexico and a few other delegations. As a result, the Chair undertook extensive intersessional consultations in hope that the decision could be adopted on the first day of the second session, thus enabling the working groups to begin their work.

When delegates arrived in Geneva, they quickly adopted the decision, stipulating that "an instrument on Africa should be negotiated once the main structure of the Convention has been defined and adopted as an integral part of the Convention. Similar instruments for other regions will be negotiated without delay, according to modalities to be decided by the Committee at its second session." Later in the first week of the session, Kjell‚n presented delegates with a non-paper on the modalities for the negotiation of the regional instruments.

During initial discussion of this non-paper in the Plenary, the Latin American and Caribbean Group, supported by the Asian Group, asserted their position that the difficulties with desertification in each region should be taken into account and references to the African agreement as a blueprint for subsequent regional agreements should be deleted. The African Group supported the general direction of the Chair's draft and urged other G-77 delegations to exchange views among themselves before presenting them to the Plenary. Several European countries that suffer from desertification, including Spain, Portugal, Armenia and Azerbaijan, called for a regional instrument covering Europe as well. The Western European and Others Group pointed out the following: the need to focus on the linkages between the Convention and the regional instruments; assessing the financial and human resource implications of carrying out additional case studies in support of other regional instruments; the viability of extending the INCD mandate, the timing of possible further work and the cost implications; and the need to address the legal issues related to the regional instruments as well as the nature and content of the Convention itself.

Kjell‚n continued to consult with the heads of the regional groups and prepared a draft decision for consideration by the regional groups during the second week. On Tuesday, 21 September, the Group of 77 met for the first time in the INCD process since early in the Nairobi session. It was widely seen that the late arrival of the Colombian delegate from New York enabled the group to meet. To the surprise of many observers, the G-77 agreed on a single position with regard to the Chair's draft decision. Yet, the donor countries continued to have some difficulties with this decision, questioning: reference to the globality of desertification; the nature of the regional instruments; the open-endedness of the negotiating process on regional instruments; and the problem of discussing the nature of the instruments before agreement is reached on the content of the Convention. A multitude of informal consultations continued. Several scheduled informal sessions of the Plenary were cancelled, as Kjell‚n did not want to meet with the Committee as a whole until there was agreement ad referendum between the heads of the regional groups.

By Thursday afternoon, Kjell‚n convened the Plenary 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. The draft contained 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.

The paragraph in dispute was the third preambular paragraph in the annex. This paragraph read: "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 maintained that desertification and/or drought should be considered a global problem in the broadest sense possible. The G-77 believed that the reference to "affects all continents," did not sufficiently convey the global dimension of the problem. They argued 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 was the primary reason for disagreement on this paragraph.

As in Nairobi, on the last day of the session, Plenary was not called to order until late in the afternoon to allow still more time for consultations. The first paragraph of the decision was amended to read: the INCD recalls "General Assembly resolution 47/188 of 22 December 1992 establishing the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the elaboration of an international convention..." The third preambular paragraph recognized that "...an effective Convention should deal with the specific needs in all regions, particularly in Africa." A new paragraph was introduced into the annex that contains the draft General Assembly resolution. This paragraph read: "Recalling that Agenda 21, Chapter 12, in particular paragraphs 12.1 to 12.4, recognizes desertification and/or drought as a problem of global dimension, in that it affects one-sixth of the world's population and one quarter of the total land area of the world and requires a broad response, as set out in paragraph 12.4 of Agenda 21 and that concrete measures have to be taken in all regions, particularly in Africa..." After the Chair read out these changes, a number of delegates commented on their interpretation of the "global" nature of desertification and the fact that this text was a compromise aimed at enabling the Committee to move forward. Developed countries still expressed their concern that an effective agreement should be reached by June 1994 and that appropriate emphasis will be given to the particular circumstances in Africa, while recognizing the need to deal with problems in other parts of the world suffering from desertification and/or drought. Once these statements were made, the decision was finally adopted.

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