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A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE FOURTH SESSION OF THE INCD

After four sessions, the INCD is entering the final phase of the negotiation of the International Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa. The contents of the text of the Convention have been negotiated and only the most contentious issues remain in square brackets. Delegates began to negotiate the Regional Implementation Annex for Africa, although there are still some questions about its length, structure and contents. Draft Regional Implementation Annexes for Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean have also been circulated. While the Committee has not yet discussed these texts in detail, an initial exchange of views did take place. It now appears likely that the Convention and all three annexes will be adopted together in June.

Compared to the negotiations of other recent environmental conventions, the INCD is well-placed to complete its mandate by June. On the eve of the final session of the negotiations on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987, governments had still not agreed on some of the central issues: what chemicals would be included; whether production or consumption of these substances would be controlled; the base year from which reductions would be calculated; the timing and sizing of cutbacks; how the treaty could enter into force and be revised; restrictions on trade with countries not participating in the protocol; treatment of developing countries with low levels of CFC consumption; and special provisions for the European Community. Likewise, at the beginning of the final negotiating session for the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal in 1989, the negotiations appeared to be on the verge of collapse. Delegates could not agree on a number of key issues including: a complete ban on hazardous waste exports; exporter liability and compensation rules; monitoring and enforcement provisions; the secretariat; and provisions for technical assistance and technology exchange. On the eve of the final negotiating session for the Convention on Biological Diversity, delegates could still not agree on the relationship between ex situ conservation and in situ conservation; the establishment of global lists of threatened and/or otherwise important species and ecosystems; rights of the country-of-origin; and financial support. Finally, delegates were unable to complete the negotiation of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in February 1992 and had to schedule an additional negotiating session. Key unresolved issues included: targets and timetables for stabilizing carbon dioxide emissions, financing for the convention, and specific commitments to be made by industrialized countries.

In contrast, the INCD will enter its final session with the following major unresolved issues: financial resources and mechanisms; categories of countries and commitments; institutional questions; and the regional annexes. Although there are other articles in the Convention that contain brackets, they will be resolved once agreement is reached on these four substantive issues. This may not be the unsurmountable list of unresolved issues that other negotiations have faced at this stage; however, compromise and consensus-building will be needed in Paris to ensure a successful conclusion of the Convention. [Return to start of article]