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INFORMAL PLENARY

INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n opened the afternoon's informal plenary by reviewing outstanding items in the main Convention. The financial issues were discussed late last night and are continuing in private consultations today. Negotiations on the African Annex are underway and negotiations of the Asian Annex will continue Wednesday. The Latin American Annex has one outstanding article that is linked to the main Convention and the Northern Mediterranean Annex is complete. A proposal on interim measures (A/AC.241/L.20) was circulated and will be discussed in the Chair's Group (extended bureau and heads of regional and interest groups) in the evening. Takao Shibata (Japan) is continuing his consultations on urgent action for Africa. Fred Mallya's (Tanzania) legal clean-up squad has been meeting and will report on Wednesday. Kjell‚n then turned to the text of the Convention (A/AC.241/15/Rev.4).

PREAMBLE: The Russian Federation, echoed by Uzbekistan and Kazahkstan, made an impassioned plea for removing the brackets from paragraph 19, which calls for special attention to the affected countries that were part of the former Soviet Union. The G-77 and China, Mali and Senegal wanted to delete paragraph 19. The US, Australia, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Syria, the EU and Switzerland supported its inclusion.

ARTICLE 1 -- USE OF TERMS: The Philippines announced that the countries of Southeast Asia feel excluded from the Convention. In response, the G-77 and China proposed amending sub-paragraph (h) to read: "`affected areas' means arid, semi-arid and/or dry sub-humid areas affected or threatened by desertification and/or drought." Canada, supported by the EU, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan, warned about the implications of changing one of the key definitions upon which the Convention is based, and argued that these countries are already covered under existing definitions. The Philippines acknowledged the possibility of another solution.

In sub-paragraph (j) (regional economic integration organization), the G-77 and China agreed to delete the bracketed phrase "or sub-region." The EU accepted this.

In sub-paragraph (k), the G-77 and China proposed: "Developed country Parties means developed country Parties and regional economic integration organizations constituted of developed countries." The EU indicated its possible support.

ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: This article still remains in brackets and was not discussed. However, Syria circulated an amendment to sub-paragraph (a) concerning the management of shared natural resources and other transboundary issues.

ARTICLE 4 -- GENERAL OBLIGATIONS: Paragraph 3 (eligibility of affected developing country Parties for assistance) was bracketed. Australia proposed its deletion, since it is not an obligation. The G-77 and China argued for its retention.

ARTICLE 5 -- OBLIGATIONS OF AFFECTED COUNTRY PARTIES: Paragraph 2 (affected developed country Parties are not eligible for financial assistance) was bracketed and the EU, who had proposed it, accepted its deletion since these concerns were covered in the Northern Mediterranean Annex. The G-77 and China argued for its retention.

ARTICLE 8 -- RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CONVENTIONS: India, who insisted on retaining the brackets around paragraph 2, said that he is consulting with UN legal experts and will report back on Wednesday.

ARTICLE 9 -- BASIC APPROACH: Notifying the Depositary about intentions to prepare national action programmes is still in question in paragraph 1. The US preferred the Depositary while Canada suggested the Secretariat and the Chair suggested the Conference of the Parties. In paragraph 2 (provision of assistance for action programmes), the G-77 and China proposed deleting "as mutually agreed" and retaining the rest of the bracketed text. Canada and the EU insisted on its retention.

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