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THE ORGANIZATION OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION

The Secretariat document, "Organization of scientific and technological cooperation" (A/AC.241/47), is a compilation of the discussions held at INCD-7. Section I, Draft terms of reference of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST), is a negotiating text, whereas Section II, on the roster of independent experts and ad hoc panels, is not.

DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Although this issue attracted lengthy debate, consensus was reached on most of the issues in Section I, Draft terms of reference of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST). The Committee is to be a subsidiary body of the COP that provides it with information and advice.

Most of the debate covered specifying the CST's functions: advisory, data and information, research and review, and technological. Under advisory functions, a delegation supported specifying that bodies such as IGOs and NGOs can provide information to the CST. This was not agreed to and all references to institutions were deleted. It was emphasized that the COP establishes ad hoc panels, but that, in practice, the CST will recognize the need for such panels and could make recommendations to the COP for their establishment. It was agreed that it is important to bear in mind the Convention's recognition of local knowledge and expertise when addressing the issue of advice on the roster of independent experts.

Delegates rejected a proposal to replace all paragraphs on research and review functions with one sentence referring to Article 17 of the Convention. An amendment provides for making recommendations for promoting research on relevant traditional and local knowledge. Under evaluation functions, delegates debated whether evaluating the quality of research is an appropriate task for the CST. They preferred that the CST should evaluate the relevance and feasibility of research.

The discussion on designation of experts dealt with whether the number of Party representatives should be limited. One delegation emphasized that the issue is that each Party has one vote. The paragraph specifying the number of experts was deleted. Delegates also debated whether the CST should be organized in sub-committees, with four vice-chairs representing the four regional Annexes of the CCD included in the Bureau. Some delegates emphasized the need for a small bureau. It was agreed that how the vice-chairs are elected and who they will represent should be dealt with under the rules of procedure.

One issue where no agreement was reached with respect to the functions of the CST is on monitoring developments in science and technology cooperation. Delegates disagreed on whether monitoring implies assessing. Another outstanding issue is the availability of the results of the CST. Even though it was agreed that the results shall be in the public domain, some delegates felt that there was need for stronger language to assure transparency. One delegation was concerned that there was no language included on the activities of the CST between sessions and submitted text to the Interim Secretariat, which provides that the Chair shall be responsible for work between sessions.

THE ROSTER OF EXPERTS AND AD HOC PANELS: Section II of document A/AC.241/47 deals with the roster of experts and ad hoc panels. It is the Interim Secretariat's compilation of discussions held at INCD-7. Comments were invited from delegates to prepare a revised document for INCD-9.

There seemed to be general agreement on most paragraphs regarding the roster of experts, even though some details attracted debate. One delegation said Parties could recommend any expert, especially those from NGOs, and that the question of removing experts from the roster should be addressed. Many agreed that nominations for the roster should be decided by the COP, not subjected to examination by the CST. Some said the CST could provide guidelines for choosing experts and evaluate the composition of the roster and recommend changes. It was emphasized that the roster should reflect geographic distribution.

Disagreement on the roster of experts had to do with whether it was necessary to make a detailed list of disciplines to be represented on the roster, and whether there should be financial support for all, or only for developing country experts. One delegation suggested a joint fund for these costs.

There was general agreement that ad hoc panels should be efficient, multidisciplinary, representative, not too large, limited by a time frame, and emphasize local knowledge and expertise. Their terms of reference and modalities are the task for the COP to determine. Delegates said the CST should not amend the conclusions reached by these panels. Regarding financing, it was agreed that the expenditures of panels should be included in the budget of CST to insure the panels' independence.

The language that suggests restricting panels to 12 members was controversial, as was the proposal to permit the COP to appoint a coordinator. It was proposed that the Interim Secretariat should add an appendix to the revised document on precedents on how experts for ad hoc panels are chosen. Some rejected choosing panel members from the roster of experts because it is too restrictive. There also was no agreement on the maximum number of panels. Some suggested deleting text that proposes two ad hoc panels. The provision for reporting was also deleted.

The Group finally adopted document A/AC.241/WG.II(8)/L.1 that requests the Secretariat to prepare a revised draft decision on the CST terms of reference and, using comments from INCD-8 and written remarks submitted by 15 April, a new draft decision on the roster of experts and the ad hoc panels.

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