DR Ambedkar IAS Academy

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (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 convention stemming from a direct recommendation of the Rio Conference’s Agenda 21, was adopted in Paris, France on 17 June 1994 and entered into force in December 1996. It is the 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 has 197 parties, making it near universal in reach.

To help publicise the Convention, 2006 was declared “International Year of Deserts and Desertification” but debates have ensued regarding how effective the International Year was in practice.

States Parties

The UNCCD has been ratified by 197 states: all 193 UN Member States, the Cook Islands, Niue, the State of Palestine and the European Union.

On 28 March 2013, Canada became the first country to withdraw from the convention. However, three years later, Canada reversed its withdrawal by re-acceding to the convention on 21 December 2016, which resulted in Canada becoming party to the convention again on 21 March 2017.

The Holy See is the only state that is not a party to the convention that is eligible to accede to it.


The permanent Secretariat of the UNCCD was established during the first Conference of the parties (COP 1) held in Rome in 1997. It has been located in Bonn, Germany since January 1999, and moved from its first Bonn address in Haus Carstanjen to the new UN Campus in July 2006.

The functions of the secretariat are to make arrangements for sessions of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and its subsidiary bodies established under the Convention, and to provide them with services as required. One key task of the secretariat is to compile and transmit reports submitted to it.

The secretariat also provides assistance to affected developing country Parties, particularly those in Africa. This is important when compiling information and reports required under the Convention. UNCCD activities are coordinated with the secretariats of other relevant international bodies and conventions, like those of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

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