i. Complex interactions which cause desertification: The UN Convention to
Desertification adopted a definition of desertification as defined by UNEP and modified by
UNCED to read "desertification is land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid
areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities." This
definition has been internationally negotiated and approved and should be acceptable to all
as the operational standard. The Convention adds that desertification is caused by complex
interactions among physical, biological, social, cultural and economic factors.
ii. Combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought: The objective of
Convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through action at
all levels, supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements, with the aim
of achieving sustainable development in affected areas.
iii. Democratic bottom-up philosophy: In order to achieve its objectives and
adequate implementation, the Convention lists four principles to guide the parties. The
Convention pioneers a democratic bottom-up philosophy in international environmental law.
It emphasizes that the people who bear the brunt of the desertification and who best
understand the fragile environment in which they live, must be fully involved and be allowed
to participate in the decisions that will shape their lives.
iv. The four principles: The first principle binds parties to ensure the
populations and local communities in the design and implementation of programs to combat
desertification. The second one calls for the improvement of cooperation and coordination
at sub-regional, regional and international levels on the basis of a spirit of solidarity and
partnership. The third principle extends the concept of partnership to relationships within the
affected countries and, in doing so re-emphasizes the importance of ensuring the participation
of local communities. In its fourth principle, the Convention stresses the consideration of the
special needs of affected developing countries.