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BSWG-6
ExCOP-1

Sixth Meeting of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety
Cartagena, Colombia; 15 - 19 February,  1999

First Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD
Cartagena, Colombia; 22 - 23 February, 1999

BRIEFING

DAILY COVERAGE

BSWG-6 SUMMARY: The sixth session of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety (BSWG-6) was held from Sunday, 14 February, to Monday morning, 22 February 1999, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. The first Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (ExCOP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity was held from 22-23 February 1999. Over 600 participants representing 138 governments, business and environmental NGOs and the scientific community, attempted to finalize a protocol on biosafety during the BSWG for adoption by the ExCOP. Despite ten days of non-stop debate, including weekend, late night and early morning sessions, delegates were not able to agree on a protocol. The main areas of contention centered on trade issues, treatment of commodities and domestic vs. international regulatory regimes.

Instead the ExCOP adopted a decision to suspend the meeting and request the ExCOP President and the COP-4 Bureau to decide when and where the session would resume, no later than the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties. Delegates also decided that the Protocol will be called the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The text of the draft Protocol, set out in Appendix I to the Report of BSWG- 6, as well as the statements by governments with respect to the text of the draft Protocol contained in that report, will be transmitted to the resumed ExCOP session for further debate.

Version française: BNT

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26 FEBRUARY 1999
Summary issue
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Curtain-raiser
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Photo highlights from the Closing Plenary

ExCOP President Juan Mayr being interviewed by local media on his way to the Closing Plenary

The Secretariat introduced the BSWG-6 report (UNEP/CBD/ExCOP/1/2), noting that it included the text of the draft protocol, as contained in document UNEP/CBD/BSWG/6/L.2/Rev.2, together with the views expressed by delegations in the final BSWG plenary.

Plenary Hall, 3:45 am.

CANADA, speaking on behalf of the Miami Group, pointed to the Group's concerns over certain provisions and then proposed that the ExCOP be suspended, and that interim work be carried out before its resumption to narrow differences between delegations.

GERMANY, speaking on behalf of the EU, introduced its proposal, as amended by the Like-minded Group, and supported by the CEE countries and the "Compromise Group." The proposal accepts the Chair's text as contained in UNEP/CBD/BSWG/6/L.2/Rev.2, and includes several additions.

ETHIOPIA, speaking on behalf of the Africa Group and the Like-minded Group, proposed amending Article 5 (Application of the AIA procedure) to include provisions for AIA to apply prior to the first transboundary movement of all LMOs, and allowing a party of import to decide not to apply AIA for LMOs destined exclusively for food, feed or processing. ETHIOPIA listed other concerns of the Group and called for these to also be noted in the ExCOP report.

Mexico was among many delegations that expressed gratitude to Colombia for its generous hospitality and paid tribute to President Juan Mayr for his dynamism, commitment and leadership.

The THIRD WORLD NETWORK, on behalf of 13 NGOs, stated that the failed outcome bodes ill for the planet. He urged delegates, in future negotiations, not to give a signal that LMOs are always safe, not to pursue their trade agenda through the protocol, and not to always submit to the might of the few.

President Juan Mayr thanked all those who had participated in the ExCOP. He emphasized how much he had learned over the course of the meeting, and undertook to do his best to secure the future of the protocol.

For the complete selection of images and RealAudio please go to the day's page: