Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 09 No. 240
Tuesday, 23 April 2002
MONDAY, 22 APRIL 2002
At the opening Plenary of the third meeting of
the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on
Biosafety (ICCP), delegates heard opening remarks, addressed
organizational matters, adopted the agenda and gave initial remarks
on the meeting’s substantive agenda. In the afternoon, Working Group
I (WG-I) discussed monitoring and reporting, and handling,
transport, packaging and identification (HTPI) . Working Group II (WG-II)
discussed liability and redress.
OPENING REMARKS: ICCP Chair Amb. Philémon
Yang (Cameroon) highlighted the decision to convene a third meeting
of the ICCP as a result of the non-entry into force of the Protocol
in time to convene the first Meeting of the Parties (MOP). He
reviewed the ICCP’s mandate to facilitate discussions on matters
necessary for decision-making for the first MOP, noting that, to
date, 16 countries have ratified or acceded to the Protocol. Chair
Yang then opened the meeting.
Jan Pronk, Minister of Environment of the
Netherlands, welcomed participants. He stressed the importance of
ratifying the Protocol and other environmental agreements to enable
the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to focus on
implementation. He noted the importance of financing sustainable
development efforts and highlighted key ICCP-3 issues, including
HTPI, compliance and liability.
Paul Chabeda, UNEP, highlighted UNEP’s inter-sessional
biosafety-related activities, particularly the UNEP/Global
Environment Facility (GEF) pilot capacity-building project for the
preparation of the Protocol’s entry into force, and called for
further replenishment of the GEF in order to support enabling
projects for developing countries.
Hamdallah Zedan, CBD Executive Secretary, also
urged CBD Parties to ratify the Protocol, preferably before the WSSD.
He reviewed COP-6’s decisions focusing on biosafety issues and
called for compliance with those decisions. He also reported on key
inter-sessional activities, including completion of the Biosafety
Clearing-House (BCH) pilot phase and technical experts’ meetings on
Article 18.2 on documentation. He also highlighted the book launch
of The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety: Reconciling Trade in
Biotechnology with Environment and Development, a comprehensive
review of the Protocol’s process.
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Plenary adopted the
meeting’s agenda (UNEP/CBD/ICCP/3/1) and organization of work, and
appointed: François Pythoud (Switzerland) as Chair of WG-I; P.K.
Ghosh (India) as Chair of WG-II; and Antonietta Gutiérrez Rosati
(Peru) as rapporteur. The Secretariat introduced the
Executive Secretary’s report on inter-sessional activities (UNEP/CBD/ICCP/3/2),
addressing: the BCH pilot phase and BCH national focal point
designations; meetings of technical experts related to HTPI; the
roster of government-nominated experts on capacity building;
consideration of issues raised by COP-6; status of ratification; and
other matters. Chair Yang invited comments from delegates.
STATEMENTS: Spain, on behalf of the EU, noted
progress in completing ratification of the Protocol and developing
necessary national legislation, and encouraged constructive
cooperation. Latvia, on behalf of the CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN
COUNTRIES, noted commitments to ensure the Protocol’s success.
BRAZIL, on behalf of GRULAC, stressed capacity building, cooperation
and the need to respect the stepwise approach regarding Article 18 (HTPI).
CAMEROON highlighted recent ratification, the need for capacity
building to enable implementation and the importance of GEF funding.
MEXICO stressed the importance of the Monterrey Conference on
Financing for Development, the BCH pilot phase, and Article 27
(Liability and Redress). The US emphasized partnerships among
developing and developed countries, the private sector and NGOs. The
NGO CAUCUS highlighted the controversy of maize contamination in
Mexico, and called for establishing a retroactive compensation fund,
an immediate ban on release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
in centers of origin and/or diversity, and internationally
standardized identifiers for living modified organisms (LMOs).
SUBSTANTIVE ITEMS: Plenary gave initial
remarks on substantive items. On liability and redress (Article 27),
the Secretariat summarized the COP-6 decision on liability under the
CBD. Ethiopia, on behalf of the AFRICAN GROUP, noted the need for a
liability regime under the Protocol and stressed its independence
from the process under the CBD. On compliance, most delegates
favored focusing discussions on bracketed language from ICCP-2’s
discussions on draft compliance procedures and mechanisms. AUSTRALIA
and the US suggested addressing other issues in the text.
On information sharing, the Secretariat provided
a brief demonstration of the BCH. SLOVAKIA and CHINA introduced
reports of regional meetings on capacity building and the BCH for
Central and Eastern Europe (Nitra, February 2002) and the Asia and
Pacific Region (Beijing, March 2002), respectively. The priorities
highlighted included: infrastructure and human resources; standards
for databases and information exchange; regional and subregional
nodes; adequate financial resources; and public and political
On capacity building, the GEF introduced some
joint enabling projects with UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank to
prepare for the Protocol’s implementation. He highlighted the GEF’s
third replenishment and hoped that biosafety would be a significant
component. ARGENTINA also stressed the importance of capacity
building for the Protocol’s implementation. IUCN presented its
biosafety-related activities at the international and regional
levels, including An Explanatory Guide to the Cartagena Protocol
On HTPI, CANADA and FRANCE reported on the
technical expert group meetings (March 2002, Montreal) on Articles
18.2(a) (on documentation for LMOs for food, feed or processing –
LMO-FFPs) and 18.2(b) (on documentation for LMOs for contained use)
and (c) (on documentation for LMOs for intentional introduction)
respectively. INDIA called for an unambiguous statement that
LMO-FFPs contain GMOs and for mention of specific names of genes for
LMOs for contained use and intentional introduction. AUSTRALIA
highlighted mutual supportiveness between environment and trade
agreements, synergy of work on guidelines and standards, nature of
liability, risk analysis, and with CANADA, capacity building and
operation of the BCH. ETHIOPIA and EGYPT stressed that Article
18.2(c) also covers LMOs in transit and LMO pharmaceuticals not
covered by other international processes. NORWAY called for early
development of a unique identification system. CANADA and INDIA
highlighted the need for consistency between Articles 18.2(a), 11
(Procedure for LMO-FFPs) and 20 (Information Sharing and the BCH).
On monitoring and reporting, Chair Yang noted
ICCP-2's consideration of a draft format for reporting and an
invitation for comments on its further development. Under other
issues for consideration, stressing mutual supportiveness between
the Protocol and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the
SUNSHINE PROJECT called for a study on their inter-relation and for
observer status for the Protocol in the Convention.
WORKING GROUP I
MONITORING AND REPORTING: The Secretariat
introduced UNEP/CBD/ICCP/3/8, noting response from only six
governments to ICCP-2's call for comments to the draft format for
reporting. The EU, with many, supported the draft recommendation and
underscored the link between capacity building and monitoring and
reporting. GRENADA emphasized capacity building of small island
developing States, and ERITREA highlighted least developed
countries. The EU also proposed a first report immediately after the
Protocol's entry into force and subsequently every fourth year.
CANADA, supported by many, called for a clear format and deletion of
repetitious questions. ARGENTINA and JAPAN stressed that the
reporting format should not address information provided by the BCH.
PARAGUAY emphasized financial support for implementation. Chair
Pythoud said a draft recommendation would be prepared.
HANDLING, TRANSPORT, PACKAGING AND
IDENTIFICATION: The Secretariat introduced documents UNEP/CBD/
ICCP/3/7, 7/Add.1, 7/Add.2 and INF/5. Chair Pythoud requested
comments on areas of disagreement in the expert meeting’s
recommendation on documentation requirements for Article 18.2(b) and
(c) regarding LMOs for contained use and intentional introduction,
respectively. The EU, supported by NORWAY, stated that references to
documentation within the draft recommendation should be mandatory,
particularly highlighting references to existing requirements and
those agreed to by the importer and exporter. CANADA stated that
such requirements are mandatory. Regarding Article 18.2(b), NORWAY
called for detailed information on the LMO’s name and suggested
reference to unique identifiers. AUSTRALIA proposed deleting the
recommendation’s list of items on possible identifications, noting
that Protocol language only requires identification "as LMOs." On
Article 18.2(c), NORWAY expressed concern regarding the voluntary
nature of the phrase "where available and applicable," and AUSTRALIA
supported deleting the list of proposed items in the recommendation.
SWITZERLAND invited CBD Parties to use the model
templates. NORWAY said that the templates should be stand-alone
documentation and include more information. ARGENTINA, with
AUSTRALIA and BRAZIL, called for simplifying required information as
the BCH will contain such data. CANADA stated that the templates are
merely examples since information can be incorporated into existing
documentation. The US supported differentiating between required and
non-required information under the Protocol.
WORKING GROUP II
LIABILITY AND REDRESS: The Secretariat
introduced UNEP/CBD/ICCP/3/3, INF/1 and INF/2. Many delegates
highlighted their national regimes. CANADA corrected the background
document, stressing that they have no separate liability regime for
LMOs. ARGENTINA said that most LMOs represent a low risk for
biodiversity. AUSTRALIA noted that regimes dealing with inherently
dangerous goods are not relevant. CHINA and others highlighted the
difference among domestic approaches, and AUSTRALIA suggested their
assessment in considering the need for an international liability
regime. HAITI called for intermediary mechanisms for countries
without liability regimes, while waiting for development of an
international legal system. CAMEROON recommended a mix of civil and
state liability, including that of importing countries, and, with
the INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURE AND TRADE POLICY, suggested creating a
compensation fund with contributions from the biotechnology
industry. TURKEY supported a wide and comprehensive definition of
damage, strict liability and, with CHINA, legal and financial
On the terms of reference for a potential ad
hoc group of legal and technical experts, REPUBLIC OF KOREA
suggested elaborating key terms, taking into consideration the best
available scientific knowledge and, with HAITI, analyzing existing
international regimes. COLOMBIA and IRAN recommended focus on
national regimes. AUSTRALIA suggested focusing on the nature of
damage. SWITZERLAND supported wide terms of reference.
On information gathering and a draft
questionnaire for submission of initial views on liability and
redress, AUSTRALIA and CANADA urged countries to submit information
on their national systems and, with the US, said that a
questionnaire is premature. COLOMBIA, NORWAY, SWITZERLAND and ZAMBIA
welcomed the questionnaire. ETHIOPIA stressed information on
criminal law regimes, enforcement of judgments involving
transboundary GMO transactions, and criteria to assess damage.
WG-II agreed to continue discussion on the issue
on Tuesday, 23 April.
IN THE CORRIDORS
As ICCP-3 got underway, many delegates were still
talking of COP-6ï¿½s closing Plenary discussions on consensus
decision-making and the fact that the COPï¿½s voting procedures still
remain unresolved. Some questioned whether this could dampen the
"Montpellier Spirit" from ICCP-1, especially in contentious debates
over compliance and identification. Others noted that the event has
now prompted ongoing informal discussions to resolve items under the
Rules of Procedure, an area which has not progressed since COP-1.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR
WORKING GROUP I: WG-I will meet at 10:00 am
in the Prins Willem Alexander Hall to continue discussion on
handling, transport, packaging and identification.
WORKING GROUP II: WG-II will meet at 10:00 am
in the Van Gogh Hall to conclude discussions on liability and
redress, and start addressing compliance.