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WORKING GROUP II

The Working Group devoted two sessions to an exchange of views on the regional instruments. The evening session was devoted to the second reading of the Convention.

REGIONAL INSTRUMENT FOR AFRICA: INCD Executive-Secretary Arba Diallo summarized the Secretariat's work undertaken so far with the regional instruments. He also reviewed the Secretariat's draft annex for Africa, document A/AC.241/17, and called for guidance regarding the type of document needed to facilitate the development of an annex for Africa. Egypt noted that the Secretariat's document provides all the background information and ideas needed for preparation of the regional instruments and annexes for any region. He also suggested that brief regional instruments should address: the action to be taken; the transnational issues and problems; and the technical and financial resources needed at the national and sub-regional levels. Mauritania noted that the financing element was missing from the Secretariat's document. Benin noted that the annexes will enable each region to highlight its specific problems and approaches. He added that the African countries are not prepared to have the Convention and the African annex "held hostage" to the conclusion of the other regional annexes. France suggested that the regional annexes should be operational, based on national action plans, and should improve the management of resources. Botswana noted that the African annex should be specific regarding the activities to be undertaken in the field.

Switzerland suggested that existing mechanisms should be used for allocating financial resources. He also called for better integration of the case studies into the regional instruments. Colombia called for a timetable for the negotiation of the other instruments to ensure that the Convention and the regional instruments will be adopted simultaneously. Colombia also urged that the regional instruments for Latin America and Asia receive the same juridical status as the African instrument. Canada, supported by Austria and Brazil, insisted that the regional instruments must not be duplicative of the Convention or the action programmes. Rather, the annexes must be considered as connecting instruments between the Convention and the action programmes. On the Secretariat's document, Canada noted that responsibilities for regional organizations, the specificities of regional cooperation, and the resources needed should be mentioned. Canada supported Switzerland and the US in the need for more emphasis on Africa in the Convention. Russia echoed previous delegates' call for the annexes to focus attention on specific features of each region. He suggested the creation of a mechanism to periodically review the regional annexes. The US noted that the legal status of the regional instruments is still problematic. He also noted the probability that few donor countries will be able to provide new and additional resources. The US said that the document does not reflect a bottom-up approach.

Cameroon noted that the OAU text should be referred to by the Secretariat in the development of the regional annexes. He said that it is important to allow the African countries to draw up their own instrument. Australia said the primary goal is to conclude a Convention that is strong and effective and that gives priority to the most affected regions. She also noted the difficulty in agreeing on the form and content of the regional instruments before the Convention is concluded. She also suggested that the regional instruments should be the vehicles for the implementation of the Convention. France suggested that a the regional instruments should define the regional institutional and administrative aspects of implementation of the Convention. Greece, on behalf of the EU, suggested that the instruments of other regions, such as the Northern Mediterranean, should not be overlooked. He added that difficulties will arise if the other regional instruments are not completed by June 1994. The Netherlands stated that clear distinction should be made between the regional instruments and the regional action programmes. He added that the instruments should only cover matters specific to the region. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, said that regional instruments should be considered as integral to the Convention. He added that the instruments should be seen as the operational face in the struggle against desertification and drought. Norway suggested that the annexes should be short, descriptive rather than prescriptive, technical rather than political, flexible and participatory. She also added that the results of the case studies should be reflected. She noted that Norway would have difficulties in ratifying the Convention if only one of the regional instruments was ready in June. Spain suggested that the Mediterranean should be considered within the framework of the African instrument. Sweden noted two categories of information that should be addressed in the regional instruments: elements to be included in the action programmes and reference to the elements of effective follow-up. Gambia expressed concern regarding Spain's proposal and the call by several delegates that the other regional instruments must be ready by June.

ARTICLE 18 -- INFORMATION COLLECTION, ANALYSIS AND EXCHANGE: Consensus was reached on 1(a)(ii), which now reads: "encompass meteorological, agro-hydrological, and biological data and stations." 1(a)(iii) calls for use and dissemination in an appropriate, targeted and effective way, modern technology for data collection, assessment and transmission on land degradation.

Sub-paragraph 1(c): Consensus was reached that the statement, "including, inter alia, resource inventories, data banks and integrated sets of physical, biological, social and economic indicators," be deleted from this paragraph that calls for the support and further development of appropriate bilateral and multilateral programmes.

Sub-paragraph 1(e) stresses the need to give full weight to socio-economic data and integrating it with physical and biological data. It was retained, but moved to 1(a)(v).

Sub-paragraph 1(f): Consensus was reached on a US proposal that reads "exchange and make fully, openly and promptly available, information from all publicly available sources relevant to the combat of desertification and the mitigation of the effects of drought."

ARTICLE 1 -- USE OF TERMS: Consideration of this article was deferred until the March session since the revised document was not yet available in French.

ARTICLE 24 -- CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES: Delegates agreed to delete paragraph (c), which provides for the assessment of the implementation of the Convention, and (d), which mandates the COP to make recommendations, since these elements are in the chapeau. Paragraph (a) outlines the review tasks of the COP and still contains several brackets. Paragraph (b) provides for the COP to promote and facilitate information exchange and determine the regularity of transmission. Consensus was not achieved that this was to be done "in accordance with the provisions of Article 28" that relates to procedures in communication of information and implementation. Paragraph (g) is bracketed as it refers to the listing of countries that has not been agreed upon. Paragraph (h), regarding the adoption of the rules of procedure, was maintained with the addition of the phrase "and amendments pertaining thereto." There could not be consensus on paragraph (i) on the COP amendment procedures until Article 33, Adoption and amendment of annexes, is negotiated. Paragraph (j) on finances is bracketed until the issue is discussed by Working Group I.

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