An introduction was provided on the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The purpose and the key provisions of the IPPC were reviewed.
It was recalled that the negotiation in the Uruguay Round of the GATT had resulted in the SPS Agreement and the recognition of the IPPC as the standard setting organization in relation to plant health. In response, an IPPC Secretariat was established, and work has begun on international standards for phytosanitary measures. In 1997 the IPPC was amended, provisions were included on harmonization; the scientific justification for measures; non-discrimination, consistency and equivalence; a Commission on Phytosanitary Measures; Regional Standards Setting and Technical Assistance. The FAO Conference in 1997 also established interim measures to be implemented until the revised convention comes into force. The interim commission on phytosanitary measures (ICPM) was meeting annually to review global plant protection needs; develop and adopt international standards for phytosanitary measures; establish procedures for dispute resolutions and promote technical assistance. IPPC activities, guided by the ICPM, concerns standard settings, facilitation of information sharing, coordination of regional organizations and technical assistance.
A dispute resolution system had been established but has not yet been used. It was reported which new standards had been adopted and it was noted that a new system was developed to meet the reporting obligations identified in the IPPC, the International Phytosanitary Portal. The system will be part of a larger biosecurity system that will also include information on food safety and animal health. The ICPM also addressed new challenges in the field of the environment (alien invasive species) and GMOs. Cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol was sought on these issues. Finally, it was noted that, to meet the requirements of the expanding international programme, the structure of the Secretariat and funding of activities would need to be considered carefully and further developed.