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Sixth Extraordinary Session of the Commission
on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy; 25 - 30 June 2001

Saturday, 30 June - The last day (and long night) of ExCGRFA-6:

ExCGRFA-6 [finalizes] the IU

03:30 - Final update: - Chair Gerbasi closed ExCGRFA-6, thanking the past Chairs of the CGRFA for all their work, the interpreters, the Secretariat and the delegates for their patience and political will. He described the IU, with its remaining brackets, as "not perfect, but something to build on." Above right: Chair Gerbasi being congratulated by members of the Dutch delegation, moments after the close of ExCGRFA-6.
RealAudio of Chair Gerbasi's closing statement

But there are still brackets in the text of the IU - what happens next?
The text of the IU will be forwarded to the Director General of FAO, who is likely to send it to the Committee of Constitutional and Legal Matters of the FAO. Once this body irons out the legal issues they will send it to the FAO Conference which will be held in November. There is a possibility that some brackets will be cleared with intersessional work, but no intersessional sessions are planned as of yet. The list of crops will most certainly be the object of pre-Conference informal negotiations. Ultimately, it will be at the Conference that the brackets will have to be cleared. Several have observed that given the high profile of the Conference and the expected high degree of public pressure, the IU has a good chance of being approved in November.

02:30 - On Article 12.3(d), on genetic parts or components, two versions of the text remain, both bracketed. It is still undecided whether or not PGRFA will or will not include the genetic parts or components of a plant as discrete units. Delegates agreed to Article 19.2, an over-arching clause stating that all decisions shall be made by consensus, and proceeded to remove all the "by consensus" that littered the text. Article 4 (Relationship with other international agreements) was bracketed in its entirety.
John Dueck (Canada) (left), Co-Chair of the working group on the list of crops, returned from informal negotiations to give his report to Plenary. He noted that delegates agreed to the inclusion of 35 crops plus 29 forages.

Sweden, on behalf of the EU, expressed strong disappointment at the restricted list of crops to be included in the undertaking.

Daily Web Coverage
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Members of the EU discussing the newly agreed-to list of crops at the back of the plenary hall, 2:20 am. The EU later stated that because of the many brackets that remain, it does not consider the IU completed.
Japan said that with all the modifications made at the last minute, it would have to consult with its capital before it could support the text of the IU.

01:00 - On Article 22, on amendments to the IU, delegates agreed that any change to the IU must be made by consensus. Delegates then proceeded to remove the brackets around the words "by consensus" throughout the text. Delegates are presently enjoying a 15 minute break - more coffee, more informals. Chair Gerbasi announced earlier that Interpretation is only available until 3am, so the next resumed session of the final Plenary might be the last...
Left: apparently, 12:30 is this delegate's bed-time.

23:20 - Plenary resumes. Chair Gerbasi announces that a small working group on lists was still meeting in the Canada Room.
Chair Gerbasi also announced that agreement had been reached on the retention of 20bis, the deletion of the G77/China paragraph on compliance as contained in Appendix 4, and the addition of the US suggestion on general obligations.
Delegates have now turned their attention to Article 22, on amendments to the IU.

21:00 - After the addition of, among other things, two commas that somehow did not make it on to the copies of the text that the delegates were reading, consensus was achieved on Farmer's Rights and the entire Preamble of the IU after three hours of debate. Plenary was suspended until 22:30, to allow for informal negotiations - and a dinner break. The mood upon adjournment was one of cautious optimism.

20:00 - Following a relatively painless acceptance of provisions in Articles 14 (Global Plan of Action) and 15 (Ex situ collections), including a resolution calling for development by the FAO and the CGIAR Centres of a new standardized MTA to make collections available under the IU, delegates in the Final Plenary debated a newly-proposed article on compliance (presently referred to as 20bis).
Ethiopia stated that this provision was necessary to insure that the benefits of the system reach the poor countries who are providing genetic resources.
India (right) reminded Plenary that the G77/China suggested text on compliance in Spoleto (now contained in Appendix 4), summarized it, and suggested that it be taken up as soon as 20bis was agreed upon.
Finding no consensus on various language alternatives, they have now moved on to the Preamble, where they have become embroiled in old arguments on references to Farmers' Rights…

The US preferred to entitle the article "Non-Compliance", instead of "Compliance". She also proposed a new paragraph on General Obligations, which stipulates that "each contracting party shall ensure conformity of its laws with its obligations as provided in the Undertaking."

Sweden, on behalf of the European Region, said that 20bis does not relate to compliance, but instead speaks to obligation to implement and enforcement issues.
16:45 - Plenary finally convenes.
Ethiopia (left) expressed his concern over the amount of work still ahead, and called on delegates to narrow their focus to what is absolutely essential for agreement on a frame-work agreement. He stated that the details could be worked out later, and that a frame-work might be the best they can accomplish at this point.

16:00 - The Plenary session, called for 3 pm, has yet to convene, as delegates wait for documents to be printed (see image, top of page). Right: delegates from every major regional group in informal discussions in the Green Room prior to the opening of the final Plenary.

13:00 - In the morning, the Friends of the Chair group adjourned, with no progress to report. Chair Gerbasi is said to have threatened to return home, his frustration being so great. The working group on the list of crops also met, and achieved a little progress - but much remains to be resolved in the final Plenary. Everyone expects a very long afternoon, evening and night - rumour has it that the Secretariat has arranged for interpretation until 5 am. Major outstanding issues include: benefit sharing, ex situ collections, definition of PGRFA, and the list of crops.


ENB Coverage of the Sixth Intersessional Meeting of the CGRFA
Linkages IU/CGRFA page
Linkages "Introduction to negotiations on genetic resources for food and agriculture" page
Home page of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture of the CGRFA
UK Agricultural Biodiversity Coalition (UKabc), Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN)
Other selected links on genetic resources

© 2001, Earth Negotiations Bulletin. All rights reserved.