United Nations

A/50/515


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

6 October 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session
Agenda item 96 (a)


             ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:  IMPLEMENTATION
             OF DECISIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE UNITED NATIONS
CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

              United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in
              Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or
              Desertification, Particularly in Africa:  implementation
of resolution 49/234

Report of the Secretary-General


A.  Introduction

1.   By its  resolution 47/188  of 22  December 1992,  the General  Assembly
established an  Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee  for the elaboration
of an  international convention to combat desertification in those countries
experiencing  serious  drought  and/or   desertification,  particularly   in
Africa, with a view to finalizing such a convention by June 1994.

2.  In resolution  49/234 of 23 December 1994, the General Assembly welcomed
the adoption  on 17 June  1994 of the  Convention to  Combat Desertification
and  decided   that  the  Intergovernmental   Negotiating  Committee  should
continue  to function  in  order  to prepare  for the  first session  of the
Conference   of  the   Parties  to   the  Convention,   to  facilitate   the
implementation  of the  provisions of  resolution  5/1  of the  Committee on
urgent action for Africa, and to  consider other relevant issues,  including
measures  to ensure the  implementation of  the Convention  and its regional
annexes.   The General  Assembly further requested  the SecretaryGeneral  to
report  to  it,  at  its fiftieth  session,  on  the implementation  of  the
resolution.





95-30121 (E)   191095/...
*9530121*

 3.  The  present report reviews recent  developments and measures taken  in
implementation  of  resolution  49/234.    It  supplements  the  information

already provided  to the  Assembly in  the report  of the  Secretary-General
under the corresponding agenda item at its forty-ninth session (A/49/477).


B.  Status of the Convention

4.   As  of  8  September 1995,  the  United  Nations Convention  to  Combat
Desertification  in  Those  Countries  Experiencing  Serious Drought  and/or
Desertification, Particularly in Africa, had been  signed by 107 States  and
ratified by  6:   Cape Verde, Ecuador,  Egypt, Mexico,  the Netherlands  and
Senegal.

5.  At the seventh session  of the Intergovernmental Negotiating  Committee,
in  August 1995,  many members  indicated  they  had initiated  the internal
process for  ratification, acceptance,  approval or  accession and  expected
that it  would be  completed in the  coming months.   On the  basis of  this
information, it  is  expected  that  the  50  instruments  of  ratification,
acceptance, approval or accession required  for the entry into  force of the
Convention could  be obtained  as  soon  as the  first half  of 1996.    The
Convention will  enter into  force on the  ninetieth day after  the date  of
deposit  of  the  fiftieth such  instrument.    The  first  session  of  the
Conference of the Parties will take place  not later than one year after the
date of entry into force of the Convention.


C.  Implementation of resolution 49/234

1.  The sixth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee

6.      Consistent   with   General   Assembly   resolution   49/234,    the
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee adopted, at its sixth session,  held
in New York in  January 1995, a resolution on organization and programme  of
work for the interim period leading to the  first session of the  Conference
of  the Parties.    Two  working groups  were established  to carry  out the
preparatory work.

7.   Working Group  I is  responsible for:   (a) the initiation  of measures
relating to  the  identification of  an  organization  to house  the  Global
Mechanism to promote actions leading to  the mobilization and channelling of
substantial  financial resources, including its  operational modalities; (b)
recommendations  on the designation  by the Conference  of the  Parties of a
permanent secretariat  and arrangements for  its functioning; (c)  financial
rules; and (d) programme and budget.

8.   Working  Group  II  is  responsible  for:    (a)  the  organization  of
scientific  and  technological  cooperation,  in  particular  the  terms  of
reference of the Committee on Science  and Technology, the establishment and
maintenance of a roster  of independent experts, and the terms of  reference
and modalities  of work  of any  ad hoc panels  that the  Conference of  the
Parties may decide to appoint; (b) the rules of procedure of the  Conference
of  the   Parties;  (c)  procedures  on  questions  of  implementation;  (d)
procedures  for  conciliation  and  arbitration;  and  (e)  procedures   for
communication of  information  for  the  review  of  implementation  of  the
Convention and its institutional arrangements.
  9.   The Committee decided that  the following questions would be examined
in  plenary:  the  facilitation of  the implementation of  the resolution on
urgent action for Africa through the  exchange of information and the review
of progress made thereon  and the promotion of  action in other regions, the
agenda for the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties,  coordination
with other  conventions, cooperation  with relevant  bodies or agencies  and
public awareness activities.

10.  The Committee also reviewed, at the  sixth session, reports on measures
taken  to implement  its  resolution 5/1  on urgent  action  for  Africa and
interim action in other regions.

           2.  The seventh session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating
               Committee

11.   At its seventh session, held at Nairobi, from 7 to 17 August 1995, the
Committee  reviewed updated  reports  on  measures taken  to  implement  the
resolution on urgent  action for Africa and interim action in other regions.
The  discussion demonstrated that  all signatories  were taking active steps
to  promote  interim action,  as  described  briefly  in  section  D.   Many
delegations  expressed  satisfaction   with  the  efforts  of  the   interim
secretariat  to facilitate urgent  action for  Africa and  interim action in
other  regions.   Members of  the Committee  and international organizations
were encouraged to provide supplementary  information at future  sessions of
the Committee. 

12.    In  addition to  discussions  in  plenary,  the  two  working  groups
initiated the examination of questions relating  to the preparation for  the
first  session  of  the  Conference  of the  Parties.    The atmosphere  was
constructive throughout the discussions and progress  was made on all issues
under  review.  The  working groups  will continue their work  at the eighth
session   on  the   basis  of   documentation  reflecting   the  outcome  of
discussions, as  well as  analysis and suggestions,  to be  prepared by  the
interim secretariat.


3.  Participation in the work of the Committee

13.  Participation by States in the Intergovernmental Negotiating  Committee
process  remains  high.   A  large  majority  of  delegations have  included
representatives  from  their capitals.    The  participation  of  developing
countries  was  facilitated  by  the  contributions  of  Governments  to the
special  voluntary  fund  set  up  for  that  purpose  by  General  Assembly
resolution  47/188, in  paragraph 15.   However,  since their  participation
remains  dependent  on  the availability  of financial  resources,  there is
concern  that, should replenishment  of the  voluntary fund be insufficient,
many  countries  affected   by  desertification  might  not  be   adequately
represented in future sessions of the Committee.

14.   Participation in  the Committee by institutions  of the United Nations
system,    other    international   organizations    and    non-governmental
organizations  (NGOs) remained active and constructive.   The United Nations
Development Programme  (UNDP) and its Office  to Combat Desertification  and
Drought,  the  United  Nations Environment  Programme (UNEP),  the  Food and
Agriculture   Organization  of   the  United   Nations  (FAO),   the   World
Meteorological   Organization  (WMO)   and   the  International   Fund   for
Agricultural Development  (IFAD), in  particular, continued  to support  the
process  actively by making  financial or  human resources  available to the
Secretariat  and/or by  providing  expertise and  resources, both  human and
financial, in support of  preparatory activities carried out in a number  of
affected developing countries.

15.   A  total  of  304  NGOs  have  been  granted  accreditation  with  the
Committee.   Up  to 32 of  them attended the  sixth and seventh  sessions, a
substantial  majority originating  from  developing countries.    NGOs  have
established  an international  network  on desertification  to  support  the
implementation of  the Convention (RIOD).   The participation of NGOs in the
work  of  the  Committee  is  widely  recognized  as  useful  and effective.
However,  the  degree  of  their  participation  remains  dependent  on  the
availability of financial assistance.


          D.  Activities in support of the resolution on urgent measures
              for Africa and interim action in other regions

16.   Reports  and  discussions  at the  sixth and  seventh sessions  of the
Committee  demonstrated that  all signatories  of the  Convention are taking
active steps  to  promote interim  action,  with  the support  of  competent

international  organizations.   Members of  the Committee  are  specifically
committed  to implementing the  resolution on  urgent action  for Africa and
are  taking measures  accordingly.   The  discussion also  demonstrated that
concrete action  is being  taken in  other regions,  underlining the  global
dimension  of desertification  and the  readiness of  countries to  initiate
response measures.   A detailed compilation  of information  with respect to
the implementation of the resolution  on urgent action for Africa and action
in other regions can be found  in documents A/AC.241/40, A/AC.241/Misc.3 and
A/AC.241/Misc.3/Add.1-25, as  well as in the  "Conclusions by the  Chairman"
contained in the report on the seventh session (document A/50/74/Add.1).


E.  Future work

1.  Sessions of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee

17.  In the  light of the amount of work required during the interim period,
the Committee adopted resolution 7/1, in  which, inter alia, it  recommended
to the General Assembly:

  (a)   That two  sessions of  the Committee  be held  in 1996, each  of two
weeks' duration:  the eighth session in  Geneva, from 5 to 16 February 1996,
and the ninth session in New York, from 3 to 13 September 1996;

  (b)   That a further two  sessions be authorized in 1997:  the tenth to be
held in New York from 6  to 17 January and the  eleventh in April, the exact
dates and venue to be decided at a later stage.

 18.   The Committee further  requested the General  Assembly to "review the
financial situation of the Trust Fund and the  Special Voluntary Fund in the
light of  the report to  be submitted to  its fiftieth session  and to  take
appropriate decisions".   The report  will be submitted  by the Chairman  of
the Committee.


2.  Extrabudgetary funding

19.   In  that resolution,  the Committee also  appealed to  Governments and
other interested  organizations to make  early contributions  to the Special
Voluntary Fund in order to ensure  the effective participation of developing
countries in future sessions of the Committee.   Timely replenishment has  a
direct bearing on the venue and on the substantive content of sessions.


3.  Secretariat support

20.   Provision was  made in  the current  biennium, within  existing United
Nations  budgetary resources,  for the  interim  secretariat to  continue to
service  Committee sessions  and  to facilitate  the  implementation  of the
resolution on urgent  action for Africa and interim action in other regions.
In  addition,  extrabudgetary  funding  is  made available  to  the  interim
secretariat  through the  Trust  Fund  established in  resolution 47/188  to
support  the  Intergovernmental  Negotiating Committee  process.    Adequate
replenishment  of  the  Trust  Fund  is   critical  to  the  performance  of
secretariat functions and to the proper functioning of the Committee.


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