Some delegates are indicating that last week's three days of 'closed doors' intersessional has narrowed the divergence of views on Article 21 dealing with enforcement. A US 'non-paper' on Article 21, promoted from the Washington DC workshop attended by a handful of invitees, resulted in two alternative proposals to be submitted by the EU and Japan during the 3 day intersessional. Although some delegates expressed annoyance at not being invited to the Washington workshop, the US 'non-paper' has acted as a catalyst in attempting to seek a 'middle ground' position. Discussion on Article 21 continued late into Friday night, but without full coverage of the 'non-paper'.
Look for a circulation of a revised text on Article 21 and circulation of a functional definition of 'arrangement' either in the form of separate conference room papers or contained in a complete revision of the Chair's Revised Draft Agreement. Article 14 on high seas enclaves remains a contentious issue for some coastal States and DWFNs and it is unclear whether a convergence of views will be attainable. At least one DWFN is believed to find the Chair's revised text completely unacceptable. Look for further reference to the Sea of Okhotsk.
This final negotiating session has effectively been extended by one week as delegates wrestled with proposals for alternative text for Article 21. Some delegates question whether two weeks is sufficient time in which to harmonize text prior to the conclusion of the session. Look for continued caucusing by the larger like-minded group of coastal States. Other delegates have remarked that any delays of time will cause the Chair to convene special working groups to hammer out remaining difficulties, as the Chair's preference is for a consensus document to materialize. Even if the text can be harmonized, delegates concede that it will be impossible to open the 'Agreement' for signature on the final day. Look for details on a separate signing ceremony that is expected towards the end of November or early December 1995.
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