While the majority of the Convention had been negotiated by the two working groups at the second, third and fourth sessions, there were still a number of words, paragraphs and articles that remained in brackets. The Plenary met in an informal session beginning on Monday, 6 June, to address the bracketed text. There were four categories of problems that remained in the text of the Convention: issues related to financial resources and mechanisms; issues related to categories of countries; points related to institutional and legal issues; and the inclusion of an article on principles. There were also a number of other sets of brackets that did not relate to these four issues and the Committee tackled these first. Issues that were not easily resolved were assigned to small contact groups. Financial issues were dealt with in an informal working group chaired by Johnson and Sonko. Kjelln held his own consultations on principles and categories of countries. A small legal committee also met throughout the session, under the chairmanship of Fred Mallya (Tanzania), to review the entire Convention to ensure that it is legally and grammatically consistent.
To facilitate greater understanding of the Convention, the following is a summary of each article in the final text, A/AC.241/15/Rev.7.
PART I: INTRODUCTION
PREAMBLE: The 26-paragraph Preamble addresses a wide range of topics related to desertification and drought. The most contentious paragraphs addressed: the international community's commitment to attain the UN target of 0.7% of GNP for Official Development Assistance (ODA); the contribution that combatting desertification can make to achieve the objectives of the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions; special attention to problems of combatting desertification and mitigating the effects of drought in countries with economies in transition; and special provisions to meet the needs of developing countries, including new and additional financial resources and appropriate access to relevant technologies.
Of these four paragraphs, the one addressing the relationship between the conventions on desertification, climate change and biodiversity was the easiest to resolve, when the US agreed to accept it on the first day of the session. The other three paragraphs proved to be more troublesome.
After lengthy discussion in the contact group on finance that met during the final three days of the session, delegates agreed to remove reference to 0.7% of GNP for ODA and state instead, "Reaffirming in this light the commitments of developed countries as contained in paragraph 13 of chapter 33 of Agenda 21." Paragraph 33.13 refers to this ODA target. Reference to the problems with desertification in the territory of the former Soviet Union continued to give problems until the final hours of the Plenary. The G-77, which did not want special reference to these countries, was finally able to accept the wording, "Expressing concern over the impact of desertification and drought on affected countries in Central Asia and southern Caucasus." At the final Plenary, however, the Russian Federation expressed its displeasure with this formulation since it did not include any Russian territory. The language was modified and now reads "trans-Caucasus."
The final outstanding issue -- the provision of effective means to developing countries to combat desertification -- was resolved by the contact group on finance. It now reads: "Recognizing the importance of the provision to affected developing countries, particularly in Africa, of effective means, inter alia, substantial financial resources, including new and additional funding, and access to technology, without which it will be difficult for them to implement fully their commitments under this Convention." This text was apparently the result of a compromise between the original text proposed in the Preamble and a G-77 proposal for Article 20, which was deleted from the body of the Convention and incorporated into this paragraph of the Preamble. [Return to start of article]