The Plenary held informal consultations on the Rules of Procedure in the morning and discussed arrangements for COP-1 and the Permanent Secretariat in the afternoon.
AGENDA ITEM 6 " RULES OF PROCEDURE: The Chair of the informal consultations, Amb. T.P. Sreenivasan, proposed that delegates exchange views on the outstanding issues in the Rules of Procedure (A/AC.237/L.22/Rev.1) and then establish a drafting group to work out the details.
Rule 4 (Dates of Sessions): Delegates could not reach agreement on the bracketed sentence prohibiting COP sessions during religious holidays of a significant number of delegates. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Sudan called for its retention. France (on behalf of the EU), Fiji, Australia, Kenya, Benin and the UK understood the concerns, however, worried about setting a precedent. Furthermore, many agreed that the second paragraph of Rule 4 allows for enough flexibility in setting the dates of meetings.
Rule 6 (Observers): Delegates agreed to remove the brackets so that "any international entity or entities entrusted by the COP pursuant to Article 11 of the Convention with the operation of the financial mechanism" can be represented at the COP as observers.
Rule 12 (Agenda): Two issues remain: should the Secretariat consult with the President or the Bureau when submitting additional items for the agenda, and should there be a time limit. Some delegates proposed replacing this rule with Rule 11 from the Biodiversity Convention's Rules of Procedure. Others thought that the submission of agenda items was covered in Rules 10 and 13.
Rule 27 (Subsidiary Bodies): For Paragraph 2, on establishing subsidiary bodies, the Parties agreed to delete "by consensus," and to begin the paragraph with a reference to Article 7(2)(i).
For paragraph 4, on meetings of subsidiary bodies, the EU and Argentina commented that convening the meetings in conjunction with the sessions of the COP would not allow the Secretariat time to disseminate the results. China, Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Kuwait said their staffs were limited and meetings in conjunction with the COP would allow for better use of resources.
Rule 42 (Voting): The major issues to be resolved include the general rule on matters of procedure, deviations from that rule; the general rule on matters of substance, the rule on the adoption of protocol, and the rule on financial matters. Numerous delegates said that matters of procedure should be decided by a simple majority. There was disagreement on whether matters of substance and/or protocols should be decided by consensus or, if that fails, by a 2/3 or a 3/4 majority.
AGENDA ITEM 2 " ARRANGEMENTS FOR COP-1: The Interim Secretariat introduced the relevant document A/AC.237/78, Add.1 and Add.2 and invited the Plenary to comment on the establishment of a sessional Committee of the Whole, participation in the debate during the ministerial segment and duration of statements. The EU stressed the importance of paragraph 42 of A/AC.237/78 allowing for endorsement of the INC"s recommendations without referring them to the Committee of the Whole. Germany and Hungary commented on the need for a productive ministerial segment. The Plenary accepted the suggestions in the document. The Chair reported on preliminary consultations concerning the election of officers for COP-1 and the subsidiary bodies. The head of the German delegation will serve as President. There will be seven Vice-Presidents, a Rapporteur and the Chairs of the two subsidiary bodies.
AGENDA ITEM 10 -- REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES OF THE INTERIM SECRETARIAT: The Interim Secretariat introduced document A/AC.237/80, a review of Secretariat activities and extrabudgetary funds. He explained the geographic diversity of the staff, estimates for funding needs and contributions to the Special Voluntary Fund. The EU, supported by Germany, Switzerland and Canada, proposed a working group to address budgetary matters and asked that it review the 1995 and 1996/97 budgets.
AGENDA ITEM 5 " DESIGNATION OF A PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: The Chair introduced document A/AC.237/79 on designation of the Permanent Secretariat, and distributed A/AC.237/79/Add.5, Conclusions of the Contact Group, and Add.6, Institutional linkages.
Institutional Linkages: The Chair summarized the document and said they would discuss this further on Monday.
Financial rules of the COP and its subsidiary bodies: The Chair reported that in A/AC.237/79/Add.5, the Contact Group on the Permanent Secretariat analyzed both the financial procedures and the budget outline for 1996/97. The Contact Group supported the establishment of a Finance Committee, consisting of 10-15 Parties, which could meet during sessions of the COP or the subsidiary bodies. The Contact Group also proposed establishing a small group at this session to study the 1996/97 budget outline.
Physical Location: The Contact Group recommended that the Committee take three criteria into account in assessing the offers to host the Permanent Secretariat: convenience of access by delegations to the Permanent Secretariat and meetings; possible budgetary savings by locating the Secretariat near other UN offices or secretariats; and the contribution offered by the potential host government in cash and/or in kind.
Italy and Poland supported Bonn. Mexico supported Toronto. Australia supported Geneva, because co-location of secretariats allows cross-fertilization among secretariat personnel and saves costs. It also saves costs for governments that would be able to maintain fewer diplomatic missions. For similar reasons, the US, New Zealand and Norway also prefer Geneva. The Russian Federation and Japan have not completed their analyses of the proposals. Zimbabwe is flexible. Nigeria said that economics and co-location are logical considerations, but hoped that this would not prevent developing countries from hosting other UN secretariats. Canada added that the logic of the Contact Group"s report is that if a city is not a UN center, it should not apply.
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