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WORKING GROUP I

ARTICLES 22 AND 23 -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND MECHANISMS: Rather than discussing these two heavily bracketed articles paragraph-by-paragraph, the Chair noted that INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n will propose a new procedure to be used for these articles. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that the Convention and the regional annexes will be pointless without a further mobilization of new and additional resources and without the establishment of a financial mechanism that is independent, identifiable and capable of mobilizing such resources in the effort to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. He reminded delegates that commitments were made in UN Resolution 44/228 (establishment of UNCED) and Chapters 12 and 33 of Agenda 21. He stressed the need to establish a special fund to finance action programmes at the national, sub-regional and regional levels. He noted, however, that the G-77 and China were prepared to discuss other options.

Greece, on behalf of the EU, Switzerland, the US and Japan said that their positions are well known and that they are willing to work with other delegations to achieve compromise. The Environmental Liaison Centre International, on behalf of NGOs, proposed the establishment of National Desertification Trust Funds in affected countries needing assistance.

PREAMBLE: The Group then began a second reading of the remaining bracketed paragraphs in the Preamble. Brackets were removed from paragraph 7, which now incorporates the UK's request to neutralize the reference to trade. It reads: "Considering the impact of trade and relevant aspects of international economic relations on the ability of affected countries to combat desertification adequately." Although delegates agreed to delete the second option for paragraph 9 on the relationship between desertification and social problems, the US objected to including a list of such problems. Brackets remain around: "such as poverty, poor health and nutrition, lack of food security, migration, displaced persons and demographic dynamics."

Brackets were removed from paragraph 14 on the sovereign right of States to exploit their own resources. The Chair proposed a simplified version of paragraph 20, which was amended by the US and the UK. The G-77 asked for more time to study the language on the relationship between desertification and other environmental problems of global significance. Paragraphs 17 (0.7% of GNP for ODA) and 21 (relationship with other Conventions) still contain brackets. Paragraph 22 was accepted after Chile withdrew its proposal for language consistent with the precautionary principle. Malaysia pointed out that there is little scientific uncertainty with regard to desertification.

Paragraph 23, on donor coordination and efficiency, was accepted in the morning but reopened in the afternoon when Malaysia proposed alternative language. The US preferred the original text, so both proposals were bracketed.

ARTICLE 1 BIS -- SCOPE OF CONVENTION: The Secretariat noted the difficulty of using language from other Conventions (as in this article). According to this article, actions to combat desertification will only take place in affected areas. This, in effect, precludes national action, such as economic incentives. The Chair, the EU, Norway, Canada and the US suggested deleting this article. Cameroon argued that this Convention needs an article that defines the scope vis-…-vis national sovereignty over land area on the planet. The G-77 and China requested time for their experts to study the text.

ARTICLE 2 -- OBJECTIVE: The EU agreed to remove the remaining brackets. Australia pointed out that some delegates were still concerned with the definition of drought and requested that this article remain pending until the definitions are resolved. Nevertheless, the article is bracket-free.

ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: Even though the existence of this article is still in question, the Chair had hoped to remove all the brackets. This was not to be. Paragraphs (a) and (a) bis on national sovereignty generated lengthy discussion. Some delegates wanted to retain both paragraphs, while others wanted one or the other. Australia pointed out that (a) bis is the same text as contained in paragraph 14 of the Preamble. Gambia proposed new text in an attempt to merge the two. Sweden pointed out, however, that (a) bis is one of the principles of the Rio Declaration, and thus, should not be merged with other text. All three proposals were placed in brackets.

Paragraph (b): Although this paragraph was not bracketed in the revised version, Bolivia and Cameroon still had concerns with regard to language on taking decisions on the design and implementation of programmes "at the lowest possible level in administrative structures, down to the local community level." Cameroon proposed new text that emphasized taking decisions "with the participation of local communities and populations." Brazil objected to this proposal, arguing that large countries cannot ensure the participation of local communities in decision-making. Both options were placed in brackets.

ARTICLE 5 -- OBLIGATIONS OF AFFECTED COUNTRY PARTIES: The G-77 and China were still considering the EU's proposal for paragraph 2. Discussion was postponed.

ARTICLE 6 -- OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRY PARTIES [AND OTHERS IN A POSITION TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE]: On behalf of the G-77 and China, Algeria opposed the inclusion of the bracketed text in the title as it lacks precedence in other international instruments. The Convention also has to be considered in the Spirit of Rio where there are two categories of countries -- developed and developing -- each with their own responsibilities. The G-77 and China are working on new language. Russia stressed the need to address countries in transition, as stipulated in the preamble of Agenda 21. The Republic of Korea said the language should be deleted, while Austria suggested that the article be considered in the light of paragraph (c) and Article 22 (financial resources).

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