Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 09 No. 241
Wednesday, 24 April 2002
TUESDAY, 23 APRIL 2002
Delegates to the third meeting of the
Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
(ICCP) met in two Working Groups throughout the day. Working Group I
(WG-I) discussed: handling, transport, packaging and identification;
information sharing; and other implementation issues. Working Group
II (WG-II) discussed liability and redress, and compliance. Contact
groups on outstanding provisions regarding documentation in Article
18.2 and on compliance also met.
WORKING GROUP I
HANDLING, TRANSPORT, PACKAGING AND
IDENTIFICATION: Delegations continued discussions on particular
recommendations not agreed by the expert groups (UNEP/CBD/ ICCP/3/7/Add.2
and 7/Add.3) on documentation regarding: living modified organisms (LMOs)
for contained use (Article 18.2(b)); LMOs for intentional
introduction (Article 18.2(c)); and LMOs for food, feed or
processing (LMO-FFPs) (Article 18.2(a)). CHINA, CUBA, the EU, JAPAN
and MEXICO supported retaining the recommendations without
amendment. On Article 18.2(b), UGANDA, with ERITREA, supported
identifying scientific and internationally used names, nature of
modification and intended use. Egypt, for the AFRICAN GROUP, noted
implications for liability in cases of incomplete information.
MEXICO supported including information to enable searches in the
Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH). JAPAN highlighted existing
documentation practices for scientific research. The US stated that
Article 18.2(b) only requires identification "as LMOs." On Article
18.2(c), the US requested deleting the unresolved provisions.
ERITREA, IRAN, TURKEY, UGANDA and ZIMBABWE supported making such
information mandatory. The AFRICAN GROUP and TURKEY supported a
stand-alone document template. Several countries supported using the
OECD’s work on unique identification. ETHIOPIA requested
consideration of LMOs in transit and pharmaceuticals for humans and
On Article 18.2 (a), WG-I considered the
recommendations by the technical experts’ meeting contained in UNEP/CBD/ICCP/3/7/
Add.1. Many supported unique identification for documentation, while
others preferred a step-by-step approach over the two-year interim
period. Several countries supported clear and precise documentation.
NORWAY proposed linking the identification system with the BCH.
ETHIOPIA noted that Article 18.2(a) is also intended to protect gene
pools. The AFRICAN GROUP, supported by many others, recommended an
independent study on costs for separating LMOs and non-LMOs. ERITREA
and UGANDA highlighted relevance to Article 18.1 on avoiding adverse
effects of LMOs. JAPAN, supported by CHINA and the REPUBLIC OF
KOREA, urged addressing issues regarding the phrase "may contain."
ARGENTINA, with BRAZIL and URUGUAY, stated that
documentation should not prevent commodity trade, noting that the
two-year period would allow countries to better determine necessary
future requirements. AUSTRALIA, with CANADA and the US, noted that
unique identification is for shipping and transport, not risk
assessment. The US, supported by AUSTRALIA, opposed additional
information requirements that would go beyond the Protocol’s
provisions. The GLOBAL GRAIN TRADE COALITION called upon governments
to focus on necessary requirements at the Protocol’s entry into
force to allow time for industry to comply with information
In the afternoon, the contact group discussed
Article 18.2(a) and the recommendation’s two outstanding paragraphs.
Some noted ties to a provision on documentation for LMO-FFPs that
intentionally contain LMOs. The group also discussed elements for
future consideration, particularly language on clarifying "may
contain" where the LMO is known, and unintentional/adventitious LMOs.
In the evening, the contact group considered proposed text from
delegations on Article 18.2(a) and met into the night.
INFORMATION SHARING: The Secretariat
introduced UNEP/CBD/ICCP/3/5 and 5/Add.1-3. WG-I Chair François
Pythoud (Switzerland) noted ongoing demonstrations of the BCH’s
pilot phase, and the OECD highlighted its work on unique
identifiers. Many delegates welcomed the Bureau’s recommendations.
The EU said the BCH should identify capacity needs, and Kenya, on
behalf of the AFRICAN GROUP, supported by ARGENTINA and CHINA,
called for financial resources for capacity building. The EU, with
AUSTRALIA and NORWAY, called for data submission from governments to
the BCH's pilot phase, with AUSTRALIA emphasizing risk assessments.
AUSTRALIA and CANADA stressed that the operational phase of the BCH
should not start before it is fully functional, while ETHIOPIA
stressed that the pilot phase would end with the Protocol's entry
The EU, with NORWAY, called for rules for use of
unique identifiers, and NORWAY advocated an open-ended expert group
to develop recommendations on the issue for the first Meeting of the
Parties (MOP). CANADA suggested that national and international
organizations provide options for unique identifier systems, and
AUSTRALIA said the need for such a system should not be prejudged.
The AFRICAN GROUP, supported by many, stressed
that the BCH should be part of the CBD's Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM).
HUNGARY indicated that its BCH would be separate from the CHM.
GRENADA emphasized the non-Internet-based component of the BCH, with
GHANA suggesting a telephone hotline. While EL SALVADOR opposed a
steering committee for the BCH, BRAZIL emphasized the committee’s
regional balance. Chair Pythoud noted that a decision to establish a
steering committee would be made by the MOP.
OTHER IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES: Regarding
consideration of other issues necessary for the Protocol’s effective
implementation, the Secretariat introduced documents UNEP/CBD/ ICCP/3/9
and 9/Add.1. On proposed mechanisms suggested by the ICCP Bureau,
CANADA recommended that mechanisms be inclusive and transparent with
a broad scope and mandate. He also noted the connection between the
mechanisms and medium-term programme of work. The US stated that it
is premature to discuss potential bodies, and AUSTRALIA did not
favor new official mechanisms. The EU supported the proposed
mechanisms. SWITZERLAND supported establishing a standing advisory
board to provide guidance to the MOP. NORWAY, supported by the EU,
highlighted transboundary movement of LMOs between Parties and
non-Parties and urged it be dealt with before the Protocol’s entry
into force. He highlighted the proposal contained in UNEP/ CBD/ICCP/3/INF/7
on preparing countries to deal with non-Parties and suggested using
it as a basis for discussion.
On the medium-term programme of work, the EU
proposed developing guidance on relations between Parties and
non-Parties. MEXICO supported developing a risk assessment
framework. AUSTRALIA and CANADA could not support considering
notification and risk assessment at MOP-2, and AUSTRALIA also said
that ICCP-3 need not reach agreement on the work programme as it is
to be decided by MOP-1.
WORKING GROUP II
LIABILITY AND REDRESS: On the expert group’s
terms of reference (TORs), many supported the group’s open-ended
composition, flexibility of its TORs and periodic reports to the
MOP. Delegates highlighted the type, definition and threshold of
damage. NORWAY underscored the nature and scope of redress,
financial security and mutual recognition of judgments and, with
JAPAN, supported focus on standards and limitation of liability, and
access to justice. Cameroon, on behalf of the AFRICAN GROUP,
stressed inter-generational damages and linked compliance to
liability and redress. AUSTRALIA and NORWAY recommended coherence on
definitions used under the Protocol’s Article 27 and CBD Article
14.2 on liability and redress. AUSTRALIA said financial issues, time
limits and insurance were not priorities, while IRAN stressed the
need for a time frame. ARGENTINA recommended differentiation between
LMOs, and between lawful and unlawful introduction, and stressed
identification of risk managers. ZAMBIA stressed definition of
illegal transboundary movement.
On information gathering, CANADA supported
evaluating existing international regimes and, with many,
recommended further information on national legislation. COLOMBIA
and IRAN supported organizing workshops. ETHIOPIA stressed
information on arbitration. On the questionnaire, AUSTRALIA, CANADA
and JAPAN suggested that it be addressed at a later stage, following
establishment of the expert group. COLOMBIA, the EU, NEW ZEALAND and
TOGO supported its early circulation for information on governments’
preliminary views. WG-II Chair P.K. Ghosh (India) noted that a draft
would be prepared.
COMPLIANCE: The Secretariat introduced UNEP/CBD/
ICCP/3/4 and INF/3. Delegates agreed to focus on bracketed text. On
the section on objective, nature and underlying principles, many
developing countries favored retaining reference to common but
differentiated responsibilities and deleting the specific reference
to Rio Principle 7. Some stressed different capacities and the
long-term process of capacity building. KENYA, supported by others,
proposed a new option: referencing the principle in both the section
on underlying principles and the section on measures to promote
compliance. NEW ZEALAND opposed reference to common but
differentiated responsibilities and to Rio Principle 7, but noted
the need to consider different capacities and degrees of
non-compliance. AUSTRALIA said including the reference would go
beyond the Protocol’s scope. Many delegates supported limiting
reference to the concept in the section on measures to promote
On institutional mechanisms and the structure of
the compliance committee, most delegates favored deleting text on
balance between importing and exporting countries, preferring focus
on regional representation, while ALGERIA, ARGENTINA, PERU and
ZIMBABWE supported retaining it. Delegates also noted the potential
dual status of countries as importers and exporters, and
difficulties associated with defining importers and exporters for
all products covered by the Protocol. The US suggested text ensuring
that the committee possesses a broad range of practical experience.
Others noted that the section on competence of committee members
adequately addresses the issue. BARBADOS suggested including the
phrase "net importing and net exporting countries."
Regarding the committee members, the EU supported
retaining text on them serving in their individual capacity. IRAN
and BURKINA FASO preferred deleting the reference, with IRAN
stressing lack of adequate regional balance and BURKINA FASO noting
that regional representation is addressed elsewhere. MEXICO and
NORWAY supported text specifying that committee members serve in
their individual capacity and in the Protocol’s best interest. The
AFRICAN GROUP, suggested that members represent their governments.
After lengthy discussions, the Chair convened a
contact group chaired by Veit Koester (Denmark) to address bracketed
text on compliance. The contact group met in the evening and
debated: a Chairï¿½s compromise suggestion to draft language on common
but differentiated responsibilities under the section on measures to
promote compliance; whether committee members shall serve in their
individual capacity or represent their government and the region
that nominated them; and whether a Party could send submissions
relating to compliance with respect to another Party. The group did
not reach agreement on these issues. Delegates provisionally agreed
on the committee receiving submissions from the COP/MOP and seeking
information from the BCH, the COP/ MOP and Conventionï¿½s subsidiary
bodies. They then started discussion on the committee considering
information from NGOs, the private sector, other civil-society
organizations and relevant intergovernmental organizations.
IN THE CORRIDORS
As WG-I delved into documentation and
identification, many appreciated the inter-sessional efforts of the
expert groups particularly in identifying points of contention.
While this streamlined discussions, a few participants noted that
many delegationsï¿½ positions have not changed appreciably since the
CBD ExCOP that adopted the Protocol. Others questioned whether this
process has a clear imperative and sense of urgency to arrive at
clean text before the next meeting, whether it be the MOP or ICCP-4.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
WORKING GROUP I: WG-I will meet at 10:00 am
in the Prins Willem Alexander Hall to discuss how to proceed.
WORKING GROUP II: WG-II will meet at 10:00 am
in the Van Gogh Hall to discuss capacity building. The contact group
on compliance will meet at 8:00 am in the Mondriaan Hall.