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INFORMAL NEGOTIATING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION ANNEX

The Group began negotiations on the African Annex at 3:00 pm under the chairmanship of Ren‚ Val‚ry Mongbe (Benin). It was agreed that only bracketed text would be addressed.

ARTICLE 2 -- PURPOSE: Brackets remain around the reference to assistance that is to be provided by developed, other country Parties, and Parties in a position to do so. Benin, on behalf of the African Group, proposed that discussion on this issue be deferred until categories of countries are resolved. The EU, opposed by Benin, proposed weaker language that would replace "to be provided" with "that may be provided." The UK added that the main Convention does not specify the precise arrangements and nature of assistance to be provided. Benin responded that it was precisely the role of the regional annexes to provide greater specificity to the general obligations in the Convention. No agreement was reached.

ARTICLE 4 -- [COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF AFRICAN COUNTRY PARTIES]: The EU proposed deletion of the brackets around "shall aim" in the chapeau of paragraph 1. He also proposed removal of the brackets around "aim to" in paragraph 2, which refers to the obligations of African country Parties. The EU added that if these proposals were accepted, they could accept removal of the brackets around the entire article. Benin, supported by the US, noted that the African countries prefer the term "undertake" instead of "aim to" to ensure that concrete action is taken. The US further proposed that sub-paragraphs 1(a) (combatting desertification as a central strategy to eradicate poverty) and 1(e) (drought contingency plans) should be moved to paragraph 2. Benin questioned the rationale, arguing that these sub-paragraphs belong in paragraph 1, which sets out undertakings, as opposed to the commitments outlined in paragraph 2. The UK questioned the appropriateness of requiring African country Parties in sub-paragraph (c) to mobilize new and additional national financial resources. He felt this was an undertaking to which few countries could adhere. The Chair requested the US, the EU and Benin, under the chair of Japan, to produce compromise text for Article 4.

ARTICLE 5 -- COMMITMENTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRY PARTIES: In sub-paragraph 1(a) (access to financial and technological resources), the EU, supported by the US and Canada, added reference to "mutually agreed terms and in accordance with national laws and policies." The Chair felt that the EU proposal was repetitive of Article 18 in the Convention. In sub-paragraph (b), the US, supported by many Northern countries, expressed serious concerns with the requirement to allocate a higher percentage of ODA to desertification. Many cited conceptual problems, and noted the difficulties in tracking the proportion that is applied to desertification, as well as difficulties in calculating the increases in aid. The US proposed alternative language that referred instead to efforts to increase the percentage of overall assistance by working with African countries to ensure positive results of anti-desertification investments. The Chair requested a contact group, chaired by the US, to produce compromise language.

ARTICLE 7 -- [TIMETABLE FOR PREPARATION OF ACTION PROGRAMMES]: The EU felt the timetable was too optimistic, and suggested reference to "start" instead of "finalize" preparation of action programmes. Japan suggested deletion of the entire article, citing legal problems with the language. Austria proposed "work out" and the US suggested "elaborate."

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