The Chair, Anne de Lattre, presented the programme of work for the Group as outlined in the annex of document A/AC.241/18, which was unanimously adopted. As requested during INCD-3, de Lattre prepared a report on the preliminary views expressed by delegates on the regional annex for Africa based on document A/AC.241/17. The Secretariat also prepared a document highlighting the paragraphs that contain the terms "international organizations," "intergovernmental organizations" and "non-governmental organizations" in document A/AC.241/15/Rev.1. A third document, "Second Submission by Sub-Working Group on `Use of Terms'," provides some definitions on terms in Article 1 prepared by the Sub-Working Group chaired by Prof. al-Kassas of Egypt.
ARTICLE 1 -- USE OF TERMS: Prof. al-Kassas introduced this section covering sub-paragraphs 1(a),(b),(c),(d) and (h) of the Secretariat's text. He pointed out that sub-paragraph 1(a) is the definition provided in Chapter 12 of Agenda 21. He stressed that sub-paragraphs (e) to (g) were not discussed as they deal with the listing of countries in different categories, an exercise that is subject to studies that were not yet available to the Committee. Most delegations, including Benin, the EU, Israel, China, Australia and the UK, agreed with the definitions provided by the Sub-Working Group on "desertification," "land degradation," "arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas," "combatting desertification," "drought," and "mitigating the effects of drought." The UK also stressed the need to ensure that the terms used actually appear in the Convention, and are appropriate each and every time they appear in the text. Morocco proposed that a definition for "climatic variations" be included. In addition, sub-paragraph (b)(iii), referring to activities for combatting desertification, should refer to the reclamation of "degraded land" and not "desertified land." The US pointed out that sub-paragraph (d), defining "mitigating the effects of drought," was still bracketed and proposed that the square brackets be removed, but with some changes in the text. Australia, Senegal, Brazil, Malaysia and Tanzania supported this view, while the EU, Sweden and Iran called for its deletion.
Egypt explained that "human activities" were not defined since the term was inherent in sub-paragraph (a)(ii) when it refers to "land-use systems." Egypt was requested to reconvene the Sub-Working Group to incorporate the amendments suggested. The Group will meet Tuesday morning.
Some delegations preferred to defer discussion on sub-paragraphs (e) to (g) until next week. These sub-paragraphs deal with lists of countries such as "affected countries," "countries in a position to provide assistance" and "countries needing assistance." Others disagreed with the lists as the status of countries may change, while others suggested that only two categories be listed: developed and developing countries. As a compromise, Australia suggested that a provision be made for the Conference of the Parties to create such lists, if necessary.
The definition of sub-paragraph (i) on "regional economic integration organization" generated protracted debate. Most delegations, including Benin, the US, Canada and Tunisia, favored its retention, including the reference made to "States of a given region or [sub-region]." The UK said the reference to "region" was geographically non-specific and, hence, there is no need to use "sub-region."
Paragraph 2, which refers to the establishment of an information glossary of widely accepted definitions of other terms relevant to the Convention, also generated lengthy debate with African countries calling for its retention, while the EU and the US wanted it deleted. The US said all the necessary terms should be included in the section on definitions. Canada proposed that as a compromise, a provision should be made for the Conference of the Parties to establish such a glossary, if necessary. The Chair suggested that this article be re-visited next week.
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