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Canada becomes first to quit UN desert convention on bureaucratic accusation

29th Mar 2013

OTTAWA,  (Xinhua):  Canada has decided to quit the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) after accusing its bureaucracy, becoming the first and only country outside the UN agreement.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) told local media on Thursday that the UNCCD secretariat and UN Secretary General’s office were both informed of the decision on Monday.

“Less than 20 percent — 18 percent — of the funds that we send it are actually spent on programming, the rest goes to various bureaucratic measures. That’ s not an effective way to spend taxpayers’ money,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during question period in Parliament.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters that Canada is just not interested in continuing to support “bureaucracy and talkfest.”

The opposition parties accused the government of turning its back on Africa, who benefit most from the program, and of diminishing Canada’s international standing.

Ottawa’s withdrawal came just one month before the UN convention was about to host a major scientific gathering, branded as “the first ever comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of desertification, land degradation and drought.”

Although the CIDA has already paid its contribution for 2012 and would honor its fund commitment for 2013, Canada would not take part in the meeting, the CIDA confirmed.

The Canadian government led by Harper’s Conservatives had been criticized for withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in 2011, the first country that ratified and abandoned the agreement.

The UNCCD is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.

The Convention, the only agreement stemming from a direct recommendation of the Rio Conference’s Agenda 21, was adopted in Paris on June 17, 1994, ratified by Ottawa in 1995 and entered into force in December 1996. It is the first and only internationally legally binding framework set up to address the problem of desertification.

The Convention is based on the principles of participation, partnership and decentralization, the backbone of Good Governance and Sustainable Development.

It now has 193 country Parties to the Convention except Canada, making it truly global in reach.

Editor: Hou Qiang


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