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WORKING GROUP II

The Group completed preliminary discussions on the regional implementation annex for Africa. Due to the painstakingly-slow pace of negotiations on the African annex Monday evening, and the need to complete the final negotiating text by Wednesday afternoon, INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n proposed that the Working Group continue formal discussions on the text during the Tuesday morning session, and break into an informal Group for the afternoon and evening sessions. The Rapporteur of the Working Group, Frederick G. Mallya (Tanzania), was appointed Chair of this Group.

COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF AFRICAN COUNTRY PARTIES: Australia wanted to delete paragraph 2 that stipulates the financial and decentralized reforms to be undertaken by the African country Parties.

COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRY PARTIES: Japan objected to the retention of this article, since annexes do not typically contain commitments, unless the instrument is to be treated as a protocol requiring separate ratification. Benin said that the inclusion of obligations and commitments in the annex does not make it a protocol. The US preferred to amend paragraphs (a)-(e) on financial, technological, research and poverty eradication obligations, but the EU wanted to delete them.

STRATEGIC PLANNING FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: There was no consensus on paragraph 1, which stipulates the status of national action programmes in sustainable development plans. The EU amended paragraph 2, which provides for a consultative process in developing strategies. Sweden said the paragraph belongs elsewhere.

TIMETABLE FOR PREPARATION OF ACTION PROGRAMMES AND IMPLEMENTATION INDICATORS: The US and Norway amended paragraph 1 to read that African country Parties "shall initiate, as appropriate," the action programmes soon after the adoption of the Convention. In response to Japan's query, Benin explained that the term "in the context of a prompt start," was included to ensure that the action programmes are completed by the time the Convention enters into force. However, Australia said this provision would not be binding on any Party since the Convention will not yet have entered into force. The Secretariat explained that such a provision can be made either in Article 38 or by a special resolution.

CONTENT OF NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: The article has two alternatives, the first of which details the issues to be covered. The EU, US, Canada and Saudi Arabia preferred the second version, which provides strategies, while the African Group preferred the first version. No agreement was reached, pending discussions on Article 11 in Working Group I.

PREPARATION OF NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: The article provides for the identification of a specific administrative body as a catalyst, in each of the affected country Parties, and outlines its functions. The EU merged and amended paragraph (f) and the chapeau of (g). Paragraph (g)(iii) on finances was bracketed pending the outcome of discussions on Articles 22 and 23 (financial resources and mechanisms).

ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK OF SUB- REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Greece did not see the need for this article, but Benin affirmed the importance of sub-regional cooperation. China said sub-paragraph (d) should be deleted, as it was already covered in the chapeau.

CONTENT OF SUB-REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Germany questioned the need for establishing new mechanisms for resource management. France and Benin thought that a smaller group should review this article.

PREPARATION OF SUB-REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Germany requested clarification on the definition of "partnership agreement." Benin said that Germany's question highlighted the need for specific terminology.

ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK OF REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Delegates agreed to place the reference to Article 13 of the Convention in brackets since Working Group I was considering merging Articles 12 and 13. Canada acknowledged the need for harmonization of activities, but questioned the need for an article spelling out the contents of regional action programmes.

CONTENT OF THE REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMME: Benin affirmed the importance of regional action programmes, since they can accomplish certain activities that States may be unable to do on their own. The Gambia noted the cross-boundary effects of desertification and the need for coordination at the continental level. The UK questioned the expense of such elaborate programmes.

STRENGTHENING OF THE UN AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS: Canada, supported by the UK, France and Japan, called for the deletion of this article, claiming that such a reference did not belong in the African instrument. The UK suggested alternative wording: "The Parties shall work together in the governing bodies of the UN to assist African country Parties in implementing the Convention." Benin felt this proposal would exclude the wider UN bodies.

FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION: Australia, supported by Canada, Austria and Japan, suggested that since these provisions are important, they should be framed as commitments and placed in the main Convention. Benin acknowledged the rationale of Australia's proposal, but affirmed the necessity of this article, and expressed the African Group's preference to divide the article into three parts: financial resources, financial mechanisms, and technical assistance and cooperation. Senegal stated that this article could be incorporated in both the Convention and the annex.

TRANSFER, ACQUISITION, ADAPTATION AND ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTALLY APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY: The US, supported by France, stated that the article added nothing to the provisions of Article 20 in the main Convention, which already places priority on Africa. Benin emphasized the need to reiterate the importance of the issue in the annex.

COORDINATION AND PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: The article contains two alternative versions: the first underscores the need for partnership agreements through consultative processes and the second emphasizes donor consultation and coordination. Agreement could not be reached. Senegal explained that the second alternative was originally suggested as a possible paragraph 6. Germany had problems with "partnership agreements," if they are only in the form of consultative groups.

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