In opening Thursday morning's Plenary, the INC Chair reported that the Eastern European Group has nominated the Russian Federation and Hungary and the Asian Group has nominated India and Japan for positions on the COP Bureau. Japan then announced that it would make an additional US$100,000 contribution to the Voluntary Fund for the participation of the least developed countries at COP-1.
AGENDA ITEM 6 RULES OF PROCEDURE: Amb. Sreenivasan introduced A/AC.237/L.22/Rev.2, which contains the results of his informal consultations on the Rules of Procedure. He noted that Rule 42 remains within square brackets. He also noted that one delegation submitted additional proposals on Rule 22 (officers) and Rule 27 (subsidiary bodies) during the consultations. Although there was discussion of these rules, there was no consensus. One delegation asked to put Rule 54 (languages) in brackets, but since there was no support for this proposal, the delegate was informed that its views would be summarized in the report of INC-11. In the event that there is no agreement on the Rules of Procedure, the Plenary will have to come up with a contingency plan either continue to apply the rules of the INC or adopt only the Rules of Procedure that are agreed upon.
Rule 42 Voting: Venezuela, Kuwait, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Iran, China and Zaire preferred Alternative B, which ensures that substantive decisions, including the adoption of protocols, are taken by consensus. The EU, Australia, Japan, Canada, Czech Republic, Brazil, Switzerland, South Africa and Slovakia expressed favor for Alternative A, provided that paragraph (b) reads that a decision to adopt a protocol would be taken by a 3/4 majority. New Zealand and the US preferred Alternative A and are flexible on either a 2/3 or 3/4 majority.
Trinidad and Tobago, on behalf of AOSIS, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Micronesia, Norway, Mauritius, Solomon Islands and Cuba preferred Alternative A, provided that paragraph (b) is deleted, and that protocols are considered matters of substance, which will be adopted by consensus or, as a last resort, a 2/3 majority vote. New Zealand, Mauritius and Egypt called for the deletion of Alternative A, paragraph (c) on decisions under paragraph 3 of Article 4 and paragraphs 1, 3 or 4 of Article 11, which shall be taken by consensus.
Rule 22 Officers: The Chair invited comments on Rule 22, Officers, and Non-Paper No. 2, which proposed including a representative from the oil exporting countries in the Bureau. Venezuela commented that this proposal had been submitted during informal consultations, but the Bureau rejected it without legal authority. The Chair said the rules have been discussed at length for more than two years and that the Bureau's mandate allowed limiting the options so that the Plenary could complete its work. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Indonesia, Algeria and Nigeria said that the issue had not been discussed thoroughly and wanted the proposal included in brackets.
Antigua and Barbuda asked the Vice-Chair which countries had proposed the current draft and if any group had objected to its acceptance. The Vice-Chair replied that the draft reflected a G-77 proposal and no group objected at the time. Uruguay commented that the COP should not begin without rules of procedure and urged countries to accept the rules now and propose amendments later.
The US, supported by the EU, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, objected to the proposal on substantive, rather than procedural, grounds. There are many categories of "special needs" countries, besides AOSIS, and opening the Bureau to one will require opening it to the others. The EU added that the small island States face a physical threat, whereas the OPEC countries face only economic adjustments like every other Party. Japan suggested a provision that would allow the President to convene "extended" bureau meetings to allow these countries to express their views.
Rule 30 Conduct of Business: The US noted that Rule 30 in A/AC.237/L.22/Rev.1, on meetings of the COP and the subsidiary bodies, had a footnote allowing accredited observers to participate in "private" meetings. She said that unless the footnote was included, the US would request further discussion. The Chair stated that Paragraph 106(c) of the Report of the Committee (A/AC.237/41) covers the footnote. The US preferred its inclusion in the Rules of Procedure since no other Party objected.
Rule 54 Languages: Japan proposed that Rule 54, which lists six official languages, remain unaltered, but that a second paragraph or a footnote should be included stating, "The lack of documentation or interpretation in any these languages due to budgetary constraints shall not interrupt the smooth proceeding of COP and its subsidiary bodies." New Zealand supported the proposal, but changed the word "any" to "all." The Russian Federation, supported by the EU, China and Kuwait, said this proposal was completely unacceptable because it would cast doubt on the use of all six languages and revise a standard UN practice. The Russian Federation added that if Japan insisted on including this provision, it would propose bracketing the entire document. Japan said it could not accept Rule 54 without the additional provision, and would have to bracket the rule.
The Chair closed the meeting by announcing that he would hold further consultations on these rules in an attempt to reach a consensus before he reconvened the Plenary at 4:30 pm. However, at 6:00 pm he announced that the Plenary would not reconvene because he was still consulting. He asked interested delegations to remain in the room to facilitate the consultative process.
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