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SCOPE OF THE CONVENTION:

The first of these "core" issues is the objective or scope of the Convention. Working Group I appeared to reach agreement that "the objective of this Convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa, through effective actions at all levels, supported by international cooperation, in the framework of an integrated approach, which is consistent with Agenda 21, with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in affected areas." There is still disagreement, however, on just how much the Parties will be obligated to do to accomplish this objective. The Africans and other developing countries insist that the socio-economic causes of desertification must be addressed in this Convention. They believe that it will be impossible to combat desertification unless issues such as external debt, international market conditions, exchange rate variations, pricing and trade policies, and poverty are adequately dealt with. The developed countries, on the other hand, prefer to limit the scope of the Convention so that it focuses more on the physical causes of desertification and less on the socio-economic ones. The outcome of this debate will have far-reaching consequences on numerous articles in the Convention, including the Scope (Article 1 bis), the Objective (Article 2), Principles (Article 3), Obligations (Articles 4-6), Action programmes (Articles 9-16), as well as the regional annexes.