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ROLE OF THE INTERIM SECRETARIAT:

The interim period will be strongly affected by both the role of the Interim Secretariat and debates between developed and developing countries on what this role should be. Developing countries, which support an active Secretariat, expressed concern that the restrictive attitude of developed countries would deprive them of a much needed coordinator for desertification activities and disseminator of information. Developed countries, for their part, seemed to emphasize that the Secretariat should play a facilitative role, fearing that the Interim Secretariat might become the big, central machinery that the Convention is trying to avoid in the promotion of a bottom-up approach. The question of the role of the Secretariat has a direct bearing on the provisions of extrabudgetary funds. As long as developed countries are not satisfied with the role of the Secretariat, they may withhold contributions to the Secretariat Trust Fund. This could have a two- fold effect. First, it could reduce the effectiveness of the Secretariat in even the most basic tasks as its numbers diminish. Second, it could lead to prolonged discussions during every future session of the INCD, as developing countries plead for more money for the Secretariat and developed countries defend their positions.