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DESIGNATION OF A PERMANENT SECRETARIAT AND ARRANGEMENTS FOR ITS FUNCTIONING

Delegates considered document A/AC.241/34, which analyzes two separate but related issues: administrative arrangements for the functioning of the Permanent Secretariat (PS) and its physical location. The document requests that organizations interested in providing administrative arrangements and countries wishing to host the Secretariat should submit their written offers, using criteria contained in the two annexes to A/AC.241/34. Germany, Kenya, Spain and Switzerland have so far indicated their interest.

There was general consensus to follow the Secretariat's proposals, but deadlines should be set for written submissions and when the Secretariat should report back to the INCD. Some delegations also suggested that the two processes of identifying the organization and the location be considered separately. Morocco, Spain and the WMO proposed additional criteria to be included in the annexes.

During debate on the amendments to Annex II (categories of information which might be requested from countries interested in hosting the Permanent Secretariat), Germany proposed deleting all amendments to the selection criteria because each would give advantage to one candidate or another. There was general agreement on this proposal, except regarding paragraph 10 of Annex II, which addresses contributions from the host government to help defray operating costs. The amendment to this criterion added host country financial support for the Permanent Secretariat as a factor in selection. Some developing country delegates felt this would discriminate against poor countries' offers to host the PS. Others felt that host country contributions were covered elsewhere in the CCD. Delegates agreed to keep the amendment, but it now refers to "support" in general, rather than specifically to financial support.

Uganda, on behalf of the G-77 and China, presented a draft decision that focuses on the administrative arrangements. The decision would: suggest that the PS should be linked to the Secretariat of the UN; invite all international institutions to support the PS including by secondment of staff; request that the GA transfer the financial costs of the core staff and operating expenses of the Interim Secretariat to the PS; and that the GA should consider providing conference services for the COP and its subsidiary bodies. These arrangements should be reviewed at COP-3.

Although several delegations considered the G-77 and China's proposal "interesting" and worthy of consideration, they viewed the recommendations as premature. G-77 members argued that this was necessary in view of the fact that the CCD may enter into force in 1996 and the 1995 General Assembly will consider the biennial work programme that would cover CCD activities.

The Group agreed to delay consideration of the G-77 and China draft decision and adopted A/AC.241/WG.I(VII)/L.1 in its place. The decision retains the G-77 and China draft decision for future consideration. It also "requests the Secretary-General of the UN to submit to the Committee, at its next session, a report on the nature of administrative arrangements that can be provided and on support from the UN to the Permanent Secretariat without being fully integrated in the work programme or management structure of any particular programme."

Delegates also adopted a draft decision on the location of the Permanent Secretariat (A/AC.241/WG.I(VII)/L.5) inviting interested governments to submit written offers to the Interim Secretariat.

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