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1. New features and recent developments

1.1 Twenty years of Code of Conduct: Lessons learned and future challenges
by Gero Vaagt

This year 2005 coincides with the 20th anniversary of the existence of the Code of Conduct. In 1981, following a suggestion of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organizatiion of the United Nations (FAO) to provide help to overcome difficulties associated with pesticides, FAO initiated the process to develop the original first version of the Code through government consultations, and with the participation of appropriate UN-Agencies and international organizations outside the UN, in particular the pesticide industry and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

This process was concluded in November 1985 when the 23rd Session of the FAO Conference adopted the original version of the Code. Actually, this was also the first Code ever adopted and developed by FAO. One of the reasons to develop this Code was that a number of governments and organizations had expressed concerns about the propriety of supplying pesticides to countries which do not have the capacities to register pesticides and to ensure their sound management and judicious use. This first version of the Code was then amended in 1989 to include the provisions for the Prior-Informed-Consent procedures known as the PIC-procedure and now covered under the 'Rotterdam Convention on the PIC procedure for certain hazardous chemicals pesticides in international trade. FAO and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provide jointly the Secretariat for the implementation of this Convention. This amendment was introduced following public concern on the export of banned pesticides to developing countries.

In August 1986, i.e. immediately after the adoption of the original Code, FAO issued a questionnaire to governments to monitor the observance of the Code; this questionnaire was intended to assess the so called pre-Code conditions. In 1993, a second questionnaire was sent out to determine the degree and nature of changes that had occurred during the 6-7 years since the first questionnaire. Positive developments were identified in the areas of pesticide legislation and awareness.

However, major weaknesses still remained, in particular in developing countries. This was one of the reasons to initiate the process to revise the existing version of the Code in 1999. Another reason was the adoption of the Rotterdam Convention in September 1998 which made the articles on the PIC procedure redundant in the amended version of the Code.

The revision process included government consultation, participation of other UN-agencies and the pesticide industry as well as NGOs. It was finalized in November 2002 through the adoption of the Revised Version by FAO's Council on behalf of the 31st Session of the FAO Conference. This Revised Version received the full support from all governments of FAO member states. The debate on the revised version was very intense among governments, a clear indication of the relevance of this document to the countries.

During the revision, the question came up to convert this voluntary document into a legally binding document. The FAO Panel suggested that due to the comprehensive nature of the Code such a process would take a very long time, the outcome would be unclear and the delivery of guidance on pesticide matters, in particular to countries with limited resources, would be required immediately.

Upon adoption the revised version was immediately welcomed by NGOs, in this case by Pesticide Action Network (PAN), then CropLife International confirmed its full support by making adherence to the Code of Conduct a condition of membership. Generic manufacturers associations, such as the European Crop Association (ECCA) and more recently ALINA, the Latin-American Association of generic manufactures have officially confirmed to FAO their support for the Code.

Other UN-agencies, in particular WHO, refer to the Code in guidelines for pesticides used in public health and in other documents.

There is a tremendous continuous interest and reference to the Code today by the principal stakeholders, governments and pesticide industry as well as other important players such as NGOs and UN-Agencies. The present Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) process is just another example and some workshop participants might have been involved in this process in some way.

What specific relevance does the Code have for in the Asia-Pacific region and what has happened here? Following the request of various countries from the region expressing their difficulties in implementing the Code, FAO obtained support from Japan for a 5 year trust fund project. This project started in 1988 and covered 23 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The project was later also extended to the Caribbean islands. The objective of this project was to support countries in their abilities to implement the Code, in particular to establish registration schemes, strengthen national capabilities, and promote harmonization and the exchange of information. While progress has been made in various countries in some of these areas, the project failed to establish linkages/partnership/involvement to such regional organizations as the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC), or to subregional organizations for South Asia and to ASEAN for Southeast Asia.

Today, FAO has received requests from various countries to strengthen parts of Code implementation on a national basis, e.g. from Sri Lanka and regionally within ASEAN from Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. This project proposal for TCP funding will hopefully be addressed by FAO in the next biennium 2006-2007.

Which trends can we observe today, and what challenges are there?

For the following reasons, the Code of Conduct is still very relevant and attractive:

1.2 International conventions: Implications to pesticide management
by Gero Vaagt

1.3 Management of Public Health Pesticides - An Urgent Need
by Morteza Zaim

1.4 Strategies for pesticide management: A UNEP perspective
by Cecilia Mercado

1.5 Implementation of FAO Code of Conduct - an industry perspective
by George Fuller

1.6 Pesticide Action Network's perspective on the revised code of conduct
by Jennifer Mourin

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