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WORKING GROUP I

At breakneck speed, Working Group I discussed nearly 10 articles. Although the Chair had hoped to limit discussion to the bracketed text and not entertain any new proposals, this was not the case. As a result, approximately nine paragraphs still contain brackets, five were agreed to, two were deleted entirely and two are newly bracketed.

ARTICLE 1 BIS -- SCOPE OF THE CONVENTION: Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, proposed new text. The Chair suggested that the Group return to this article after delegates have had a chance to review it. He added that although this language on the scope was valid for the Biodiversity Convention, it may not be appropriate here.

ARTICLE 2 -- OBJECTIVE: Greece, on behalf of the EU, and Canada suggested deleting the second paragraph, which refers to long-term integrated strategies. The G-77 requested that it be retained. The paragraph remains in brackets.

ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: Although there is still no agreement on whether this article should remain in the text, delegates agreed to discuss it. They accepted an EU proposal for simplified language for the chapeau: "In order to achieve the objectives of this Convention and to implement its provisions, the Parties shall be guided, inter alia, by the following:".

There were two alternatives for paragraph (a) on national sovereignty. Some delegates preferred the second option, which is agreed language from the Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions. The G-77 and Bolivia proposed retaining both paragraphs and possibly merging them. Nothing was resolved.

Delegates reached agreement on paragraph (b), which now reads: "the Parties should ensure that decisions on the design and implementation of programmes to combat desertification and the consequences of drought are taken at the lowest possible level in administrative structures, down to the local community level, and that an enabling environment is created at higher levels to facilitate local action." Finland proposed compromise text on paragraph (d). It now reads: "the Parties should develop, in the spirit of partnership, cooperation among all levels of government, communities, NGOs and landholders to establish a better understanding of the nature and value of land resources..." A number of delegates proposed amendments to paragraph (f) as to whether the Convention should take into consideration the special needs of "developing countries," "affected or threatened countries," "least developed," or those "particularly in Africa." Nothing was resolved. Paragraphs (e) and (g) were deleted.

ARTICLE 4 -- GENERAL OBLIGATIONS: The US, Japan and the EU thought that the specific references to debt, market conditions, exchange rate variations, pricing and trade policies had been deleted from paragraph 2(b). Benin, Senegal and Algeria (on behalf of the G-77 and China) insisted that these references should be retained. Nothing was resolved. Since Paragraph 2(h) addresses financial resources and mechanisms, the Chair suggested that discussion of this paragraph be postponed, pending agreement on Articles 22 and 23.

ARTICLE 5 -- OBLIGATIONS OF AFFECTED COUNTRY PARTIES: The brackets around paragraph (e) were removed after Australia proposed compromise text that reads: "...strengthening as appropriate relevant existing legislation..." Greece, on behalf of the EU, proposed a new paragraph (f) that states that affected developed countries are not eligible for financial support under this Convention. Some countries did not understand the rationale for this and it was placed in brackets.

ARTICLE 6 -- OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRY PARTIES: Discussion was postponed, as requested by the G-77 and China.

ARTICLE 7 -- PRIORITY FOR AFRICA: The G-77 and China proposed new language ensuring the provision of financial resources, technical assistance and other forms of support to assist affected African countries. The text is bracketed.

ARTICLE 8 -- RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CONVENTIONS: Saudi Arabia proposed deleting this article, but the Africans argued for its retention. The US pointed out that the second paragraph will have to be revisited once the rest of the Convention is completed. Both paragraphs remain in brackets.

ARTICLE 9 -- BASIC APPROACH (ACTION PROGRAMMES): Only two phrases in paragraph 1 were bracketed and the G-77 and China preferred that it read "developing country Parties," deleting the phrase "needing assistance." The EU proposed new text for this paragraph that states that all affected developing country Parties and those developed country Parties that voluntarily agree to do so shall develop national action programmes, using a participatory approach. Although some countries felt they could accept parts of this proposal, they wanted more time to consider it. Others preferred the original text. Both options were bracketed. Paragraph 2 still contains brackets since there is no resolution yet on the definitional problems surrounding listings of countries.

ARTICLE 10 -- NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Sub-paragraph 2(b) was amended by the US to read that national action programmes should be able "...to cope with different socio-economic, biological and geo-physical conditions." Sub-paragraph 2(d) was amended by the US to "enhance national climatological, meteorological and hydrobiological capabilities..." China, Malaysia, and India opposed reference to "partnership" in sub-paragraph 2(e). Brazil recommended using the compromise proposed by Finland in Article 3: "in the spirit of partnership." This was acceptable. Paragraph 3 will remain bracketed until Article 11 is discussed.

ARTICLE 11 -- FIELDS TO BE COVERED IN NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Two versions of this article appear in the text. China, Brazil, Uruguay and India believed that this article is better suited to the regional annex for Africa and should be deleted. The African Group and Austria supported its retention. If it is retained, most delegates preferred the second version. Regarding the chapeau, it was agreed that brackets would be retained around the words "developing," "needing assistance," "shall," and "and their populations." Paragraph (a) on capacity building, education, technical cooperation and finance was accepted without any amendments. Regarding paragraph (b), the US and Sweden had a problem with poverty eradication as one of the fields to be covered. Benin said poverty eradication is the key to the entire Convention. The phrase "poverty eradication" is bracketed.

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