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WORK PROGRAMME FOR THE INTERIM PERIOD AND PREPARATION FOR THE COP

Executive Secretary Arba Diallo said there are two major tasks facing the INCD during the interim period: 1) ensuring the implementation of the resolution on urgent action for Africa and initiatives in other regions; and 2) taking the necessary measures to ensure implementation of the Convention. These tasks call for the adoption of a viable work programme for the interim period. He then introduced the documentation: A/AC.241/29 (work programme for the interim period and preparation for the COP); A/AC.241/30 (summary of the measures announced in Paris by many parties on implementation of the resolution on urgent action for Africa); and A/AC.241/31 (extrabudgetary funds and activities planned to be undertaken during the interim period).

The PHILIPPINES<D>, on behalf of the G-77 and China, responded to the EU's statement delivered Monday. He expressed concern that the CCD was being downgraded to a lower status than the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. He was concerned that conditionalities were being stressed beyond the spirit and provisions of the CCD and its regional annexes. Without a spirit of partnership the CCD might meet the same fate as the 1977 Nairobi Plan of Action. The Interim Secretariat must be operational in a real sense. The most important functions of its mandate are: pursuit of urgent action for Africa; groundwork-laying for developing countries to elaborate action plans; awareness- raising, capacity-building and transfer of technology; preparation of the first COP; and response to emergency requests from affected countries.

AUSTRALIA said that it has produced a guide to techniques to combat desertification entitled "Australian Initiatives to Combat Desertification," which will be distributed in the INCD and elsewhere. He underlined that the preparation for the COP should be based on sound scientific principles and community-derived solutions. As it is vital to consider physical, biological and social sciences, as well as traditional knowledge, there should be a small working group to plan science and technology activities during the interim period. This group could deal with the roster of independent experts and the procedures for the ad hoc<D> panels.

The information sharing mechanism should contain information on the effectiveness of anti-desertification measures and encourage the involvement of local communities. The Secretariat should prepare a proposal on the communication of information, which takes into account systems operating under other conventions. He added that: computers should not be the only source of information; any synthesis of communications should be weighed against the additional cost; and that developing countries require technical and financial support in compiling and communicating information. He emphasized that the effectiveness of the INC"s work will depend on its administrative arrangements. The Interim Secretariat should prepare drafts on financial rules and rules of procedure based on other environmental conventions. The issues of the host and location of the Secretariat should be dealt with separately, but co-location with other secretariats could be considered.

The US<D> noted two developments that are indicative of the US support of the Convention. The US Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency sponsored the International Symposium and Workshop on Desertification in Developed Countries, which was held in Tuscon, Arizona, in October. There will be a workshop on sub-Saharan drought that is being co-sponsored by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and other international scientific organizations, to be held under the auspices of the WMO, in Trieste, Italy, on 31 July - 4 August 1995.

FRANCE, on behalf of the EU, noted that the EU"s statement on Monday may have been misunderstood and stressed that the EU attaches crucial importance to the Convention and shares the point of view of the G-77 and China that desertification is a phenomenon that affects both developed and developing countries. The role of the INCD is to give guidance to the Secretariat in preparing for the first COP. On the work programme for the interim period, the INCD may want to look at a format for the submission of information. The EU thinks that the term "interim implementation" is legally confusing and should be replaced by the term "interim actions." With regard to the global mechanism, the Secretariat should prepare a study of the parties that might be able to run such a machinery. In Section III, the organization of the work of the Committee, two working groups could be set up. The first could deal with institutional and legal aspects and the second with financial machinery and overall policy. Follow-up of the urgent measures for Africa should be discussed in Plenary.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION observed that the CCD should have equal legal status as the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The financial budget for the programme of work during the interim period should reflect the whole spectrum of social and ecological specificities of the various regions.

Regarding the legal status of the CCD vis … vis<D> the FCCC and CBD, Kjell‚n emphasized that none was superior or inferior to the other, noting that their origins are similar and that in fact, the CCD has borrowed a lot of its procedural aspects from these two conventions. However, the resolution on the urgent action for Africa is a new element without precedent, which raises the question of how the INCD should facilitate its implementation.

The UK agreed with Kjell‚n regarding the status of the CCD, pointing out that the problem was in the proposed operational role of the Secretariat, which could amount to a duplication of activities already undertaken by other agencies. This operational role seems to arise from the loose use of the phrases "interim implementation of the Convention" and "provisional implementation" in A/AC.241/29. This is inappropriate, as the terms have legal implications that are neither provided for in the Convention or in any other document prepared by the INCD. He noted that the resolution on urgent action for Africa is not part of the Convention. In addition, some proposals by the G-77 and China, such as responding to emergency relief and capacity building, were outside the mandate of the INCD. Therefore, the INCD should focus on preparation for the first COP.

Kjell‚n reiterated that the misunderstanding on the role of the Secretariat in respect to the resolution on the urgent action for Africa was conceptual due to the wording in the resolution and paragraph 5 of GA resolution 49/234, as well as the fact that there exists no precedent. Arba Diallo pointed out that the use of the terms "interim implementation" was in conformity with the intention of the resolution adopted in Paris. Article 7 of the Convention"s Implementation Annex for Africa authorizes African countries, pending the entry into force of the Convention, to undertake activities related to the preparation of action programmes as outlined in the Convention. The PHILIPPINES, on behalf of the G-77 and China, pointed out that the reference to emergency requests was in relation to facilitating the work of the field officers.

The US<D> shared the concerns of the EU, Australia and the UK regarding the phrase "interim implementation" and suggested consulting the lawyers. He further stated that Article 21 of the CCD was intended to promote actions, but the mechanism should not mobilize such actions itself. There is no need for a scientific body at this point. The discussion on urgent action for Africa should be held in Plenary. The CCD"s legal status is not inferior but, in fact, superior to other conventions, since it has drawn on new experiences and knowledge, such as the importance of local communities and regional variations.

CANADA<D> sees use for interim measures for communication, but urges that careful consideration be given to the purpose of this communication. Canada does not think that the Secretariat should be involved in public awareness and capacity building since this should be done bilaterally. On the rules of procedure and the preparations for the first COP, Canada agrees with Australia that precedents can be used from other Conventions. The host of the Secretariat and its location could be considered separately. A host organization is also needed for the global mechanism, which is a clearinghouse and a provider of information, but not an organization to channel funds. The INCD should work on the terms of reference for the Committee on Science and Technology, since it will "hit the ground running" at the first COP.

BURKINA FASO<D> concurred with the G-77 and China that conditionalities are being attached to the CCD. Naturally, the affected people are at the focus of the CCD, but the Secretariat should be involved and should function as a facilitator.

SENEGAL proposed that two working groups be created to address the issues including the activities of the Secretariat during the interim period, which may include playing a mediative role in the preparation of national action programmes and facilitating scientific training in developing countries.

JAPAN sees the CCD as having equal status with other conventions, but also as a Convention that provides a new approach to international cooperation and aid management among donors through new partnership arrangements. It also calls for better planning, management and improved governance among developing countries. He noted that the resolution on urgent action for Africa was negotiated with the understanding that it was a separate entity from the Convention. Thus, the work of the INCD should focus on implementation of the resolution and preparations for the COP. He proposed that the implementation of the resolution on urgent action for Africa be dealt with in Plenary, since this does not require negotiation. The work on COP preparations should be dealt with in two working groups.

BENIN lamented the seeming preconceived notions of the role of the Secretariat and proposed that the discussion on the resolution on urgent action for Africa be left to open discussion. There may be a vacuum if a coordination body is not established.

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