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CLOSING SESSION

The Plenary met for the third and final time at INCD-3 on Friday afternoon, 28 January 1994. Delegates adopted the draft provisional agenda for the fourth session (21-31 March 1994). The agenda includes: adoption of the organization of work; the elaboration of an international convention to combat desertification in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa; review of the situation regarding extra-budgetary funds; the adoption of a provisional agenda for the fifth session; and the adoption of the report of the Committee on its fourth session. The Committee also adopted the report of its third session, as contained in document A/AC.241/L.16 and the reports of the two working groups, documents A/AC.241/WG.I/L.2 and A/AC.241/WG.II/L.2.

In a closing statement, Greece, on behalf of the European Union, noted that significant progress has been made particularly in clarifying the issues and in defining the efforts that are required to reach a consensus. The EU stressed that the responsibility in combatting desertification and preventing its disastrous environmental and social consequences is an equal obligation of all affected countries.

Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, supported an action-oriented Convention with forward-looking approaches and progress in the following areas: subregional and regional action programmes; financial resources and mechanisms; technology transfer and capacity building commitments; institutional arrangements; and timely, meaningful and operational regional annexes. The G-77 urged that adequate time and attention be devoted to a regional instrument for Africa at the next session of the INCD.

Benin, on behalf of the African Group, said that this session has shown the potential for working in a spirit of solidarity that will lead to an action-oriented convention. He drew attention to the fact that, in accordance with the spirit of Resolution 47/188, all regions concerned with drought and desertification must be served by the Convention. However, special attention has to be given to Africa. He urged that the African instrument should not be held hostage to other annexes.

In his closing statement, INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n said that since the third and fourth sessions are so close together the Committee does not need to take any particular decisions. Instead, he set out the main points as follows: 1) The Secretariat is requested to prepare a revised version of Document 15 as soon as possible. In fact, this document is already available in English and will be available in other languages next week; 2) The Secretariat is requested to prepare a negotiating text on the regional instrument for Africa, based on Document 17, the discussions in Working Group II and other written comments submitted by delegations; 3) All questions related to regional instruments will be considered at the fourth session; 4) The fourth session will be organized so that the negotiations can be concluded by June 1994.

Kjell‚n also noted three important linkages to reflect on during the intersessional period. First, the INCD has to negotiate and draft the Convention so it will be acceptable to all countries to ensure rapid signature and ratification of the maximum number of contracting parties. Second, it is essential that the INCD consider the links between the main Convention, the regional annexes and national, sub-regional and regional action programmes. Finally, he urged delegates to realize that their skills in drafting must be used in such a way that they do not only feel responsibility for their own instructions and governments, but also to the millions of women and men who will be influenced by what can be achieved here.

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