In my capacity as chairman of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and in compliance with the remit given to me by the FAO Council at its 121st Session, I am pleased to submit to you my report on the outcome of seven years' negotiations to revise the 1983 International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture harmonised with the Convention on Biological Diversity, taking account of Resolution 3 of the Nairobi Final Act of May 1992.

At its 27th Session in 1993, the FAO Conference requested the Director-General to provide a forum for negotiations between governments to revise the International Undertaking, examine the issue of access to plant genetic resources under mutually agreed conditions, including access to ex situ collections not acquired in accordance with the Convention, and how to make Farmers' Rights a reality. In implementation of Resolution 7/93 the First Special Session of the Commission began the negotiations in November 1994 which continued at five special meetings and three regular meetings, six meetings of the Chairman's Contact Group set up to facilitate negotiations, one meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Council, and numerous informal consultations.

I should like to take this opportunity to extend my very special thanks to the governments of Japan, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Iran, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland for providing financial resources throughout these years, and in some cases for having organised meetings and funded the participation of the delegates from the developing countries throughout the whole process.

The negotiations have also benefited from excellent technical support from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research through the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI).

And I must, of course, congratulate and thank all the countries concerned, and in particular the delegates who are present today, for having shown insight and imagination in their quest for solutions to extremely complex and unprecedented issues with such dedication, enthusiasm and political commitment. This is the reason why the International Treaty that I shall shortly be putting to you for your consideration is an avant-garde binding instrument that will fill both a gap and build bridges between agriculture, trade and the environment.

Much of what we have achieved in our negotiations has also been due to the permanent presence of the non-governmental organisations that have been advocating, with forward-looking vision, the adoption of a Treaty of this kind, for the past two decades.

For four years I have had the immense privilege and honour of chairing these negotiations. The work has been extremely intense, and on many occasions we have seen our efforts amply rewarded. But we have also experienced moments of dejection. It has taken courage and determination to continue moving forward, and this has been possible thanks to the constant and decisive support I have received from Professor Josť Esquinas Alcįzar, the Commission Secretary, and his inseparable fellow enthusiast, Clive Stannard. Without them it would never have been possible to come this far. What little that I know today about these important issues is due to them. And I would like to thank them both from the bottom of my heart.

In a world passing through a rapid process of globalisation and economic integration, the issue of Agro-biodiversity is revealing various types of interdependence which give us cause for thought, and which certainly have major implications.

We might say, in general terms, that no country in the world is self-sufficient with regard to agricultural biodiversity, and that countries are 70 percent dependent on average for their main crops. Paradoxically, many countries that are economically poor, because they are generally located in tropical and subtropical zones, are rich in terms of their plant genetic resources and genetic diversity, which are necessary to the survival of humanity. International co-operation must help to ensure a fairer and more equitable distribution of the benefits deriving from the plant genetic resource utilisation, to act as a vital incentive to ensure that countries continue developing and conserving their genetic diversity, and placing it at the disposal of humanity.

There is also a type of generational interdependence. Agricultural biodiversity is a precious birthright that we have inherited from earlier generations, and we are morally obliged to bequeath it undiminished to future generations, so that they can decide on their future.

We may also speak of dependency between plant genetic resources and biotechnology. Plant genetic resources are generally the raw material to which biotechnologies are applied, so that for industry, which applies these technologies, it is fundamentally important for countries to conserve their plant genetic wealth and keep it at their disposal.

This Treaty constitutes a fair and equitable agreement between the developed and the developing countries in the stewardship of assets of relevance to the whole of humanity and food security both for this and for future generations.

I believe that I am expressing the feelings of all those who have been involved in this process when I say that today we are happy to be able to submit to you the text of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which is the fruit of the compromise we reached in our negotiations. The Treaty comprises a Preamble, six Parts, 35 Articles and two Annexes. The subject-matter of the Treaty are the conservation and sustainable utilisation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and the fair and equitable distribution of the benefits deriving from their use, in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity. These objectives will be achieved by closely linking this Treaty to that Convention.

The article on Farmers' Rights is an acknowledgement of the enormous contribution that indigenous and local communities have made across the ages and continue to make today - the world's smallholders - to conserve, maintain and develop plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. It has been agreed that Farmers' Rights shall be realised through three essential elements: protecting traditional expertise and know-how, ensuring the equitable participation by farmers in the distribution of the benefits obtained and the rights of farmers to participate in decision-taking at the national level on matters relating to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The backbone of this Treaty is the establishment of a novel multilateral system to provide access to and ensure the distribution of the benefits, including measures for the exchange of information, access to technology and technology transfer, the establishment of national capacities and the fair and equitable distribution of commercial benefits stemming from the use of plant genetic resources acquired within the System.

Indeed, one of the most important innovations is the way of ensuring the distribution of the benefits stemming from their commercial use. In addition to co-operation and partnership with the public and private sectors, provision is made for payment of an equitable share of the profits earned from marketing plant genetic products incorporating material accessed from the System. The Multilateral System will begin with more than 60 genera and numerous botanical species, comprising 35 crops and 29 forage crops. These are all set out in annex 1 which, according to rough calculations, should provide more than 80 percent of the calorie intake required to guarantee world food security. It is to be hoped that as the benefits and effectiveness of the System becomes clear, the member governments will farsightedly decide to extend the list and thereby increase the possible benefits available to all.

As far as the financial resources are concerned, the Governing Body will draft and continually revise a funding strategy with the aim of enhancing the availability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of the provision of financial resources for the implementation of the activities under the International Treaty. To this end, the Governing Body will periodically set a target, namely, the estimated required amount of funds to be obtained. In accordance with this funding strategy, the form and the manner has been agreed to mobilise the financial resources from multiple funding sources for programmes and projects which will make it possible to efficiently implement the Global Plan of Action on Plant Genetic Resources negotiated in 1996 in Leipzig. Financial contributions are also expected from governments, particularly of the developed countries, together with original voluntary contributions from their own countries, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and other sources.

This Treaty will enter into force after the fortieth instrument of ratification has been deposited. I should like to take this opportunity to appeal to all countries to appropriately facilitate their constitutional ratification procedures.

I formally propose that the three existing brackets should be deleted and the three texts as set out in the Treaty be retained, to read as follows: "Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture" means any genetic material of plant origin of actual or potential value for food and agriculture; and "genetic material" means any material of plant origin, including reproductive and vegetative propagating material, containing functional units of heredity; lastly, article 12.3 paragraph (d) would read as follows: "recipients shall not claim any intellectual property or other rights that limit the facilitated access to the plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, or their genetic parts or components, in the form received from the Multilateral System".

By keeping these three texts as I have proposed, which is the original wording of the Treaty in each case, with the removal of the brackets, we now have a wholly unambiguous proposal.

Pursuant to Article XIV of the FAO Constitution, and seconded by the Ambassador of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, I formally move that this Conference adopt the text of the Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in the form I have suggested, with all the brackets removed, together with its associated resolution both of which are given in document C 2001/LIM/70.






The Arab Organization for Agricultural Development and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,

Recalling that the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (hereinafter referred to as "AOAD") was established with the purpose of: (1) developing natural and human resources in the agricultural sector, and improving the means and methods of exploiting these resources on scientific bases; (2) increasing agricultural productive efficiency and achieving agricultural integration between the Arab States and countries; (3) increasing agricultural production with a view to achieving a higher degree of self-sufficiency; (4) facilitating the exchange of agricultural products between the Arab States and countries; (5) enhancing the establishment of agricultural ventures and industries; and (6) increasing the standards of living of the labour force engaged in the agricultural sector;

Recalling also that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (hereinafter referred to as "FAO") was established for the purpose of raising levels of nutrition and standards of living of the peoples, securing improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products, bettering the conditions of rural populations, and thus humanity's freedom from hunger; 

Recalling that AOAD and FAO have been cooperating in matters pertaining to, or connected with, food and agriculture in Africa and the Middle East under the terms of an Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters of 17 and 19 January 1974; 

Realizing that, in light of the experience gained, it is in the interest of both organizations to reinforce and improve the legal and institutional framework for their cooperation;

Being desirous of coordinating their efforts in Africa and the Middle East with a view to achieving their common aims within the framework of the United Nations Charter, the Charter of AOAD and the Constitution of FAO; 

Have agreed as follows:

Article I

1. AOAD and FAO agree to cooperate with each other through their appropriate organs with respect to all matters of common interest that arise in the fields of food and agriculture. Specific areas of cooperation may include:

  1. natural resources inventory using geographic information systems; 
  2. regional activities in animal and plant protection, including integrated pest management; 
  3. irrigation; 
  4. rangeland development and improvement; 
  5. women in rural development; 
  6. planning and training institutions for policy analysis and management of the agricultural sector; 
  7. Special Programme for Food Security and technical cooperation among developing countries that are Member States of both AOAD and FAO; 
  8. Such other areas of activity as AOAD and FAO may agree upon. 

2. FAO and AOAD shall, as far as possible and in conformity with their constitutional or charter instruments and decisions of their competent bodies, give due consideration to requests for technical assistance made by either FAO or AOAD.

Article II
Mutual consultation

1. AOAD and FAO shall consult on all the matters mentioned in Article I that are of common interest to them.

2. AOAD shall inform FAO of any plans for the development of its activities in the fields of food and agriculture. It shall consider any proposals concerning such plans as may be made to it by FAO, with a view to securing effective coordination between the two oganizations and avoiding duplication of activities. 

3. FAO shall inform AOAD of any plans for the development of its activities in the fields of food and agriculture. It shall consider any proposals concerning such plans as may be made to it by AOAD with a view to securing effective coordination between the two organizations and avoiding duplication of activities. 

4. When circumstances so require, AOAD and FAO shall engage in consultations with a view to selecting the best means for ensuring that their activities in matters of common interest are fully effective.

Article III
Reciprocal representation

1. AOAD shall invite FAO to be represented at sessions of its Specialized Commissions and at technical conferences or meetings, at which questions of interest to FAO are to be discussed. The observer representing FAO may participate without vote in the deliberations of such sessions, conferences or meetings with respect to matters in which FAO is interested.

2. FAO shall invite AOAD to be represented at all sessions of the FAO Conference and the FAO Council and at other relevant conferences and meetings held under the auspices of FAO in which Member States of AOAD participate. The observer representing AOAD may participate without vote in the deliberations of such sessions, conferences or meetings with respect to matters in which AOAD is interested.

Article IV

1. AOAD and FAO may, in appropriate cases, agree to convene under their auspices, according to arrangements to be made in each particular case, joint meetings concerning matters of interest to both organizations. The manner in which measures proposed by such joint meetings may be put into effect will be determined by the two organizations.

2. In appropriate cases, meetings convened by one organization may call for the cooperation and participation of the other organization. The scope of such cooperation and participation will be subject to arrangements in each case, taking into account any relevant resolution approved by the organization responsible for the convening of the meeting.

Article V
Joint action

1. AOAD and FAO may, through special arrangements, decide upon joint action with a view to attaining objectives of common interest. These arrangements shall define in detail all modalities for such joint action and specify the financial commitments, if any, that each of the parties is to assume.

2. AOAD and FAO may, when they consider it desirable, set up joint commissions, committees or other bodies, on conditions to be mutually agreed in each case, to advise them on matters of common interest. 

3. The Executive Heads of AOAD and FAO may, at their request, be invited to address each other's Governing Bodies on issues related to food and agricultural development in Africa and the Middle East.

Article VI
Assistance in technical, research and in other related fields

1. Joint requests for aid from two or more Member States to either organization may, if the Governments concerned so request, be the subject of consultations between the two organizations.

2. Joint studies may be undertaken by AOAD and FAO and joint programmes established between them.

Article VII
Statistical and legislative information

AOAD and FAO will concert their efforts to obtain the best use of statistical and legislative information and to ensure the most effective utilization of their resources in the assembling, analysis, publication and diffusion of such information, in particular in the Arabic language, with a view to reducing the burden on the Governments and other organizations from which such information is collected.

Article VIII
Exchange of information and documents

1. Subject to such arrangements as may be necessary for the safeguarding of classified material, AOAD and FAO shall arrange for the fullest exchange of information and documents concerning matters of common interest.

2. AOAD shall be kept informed by FAO of developments in the latter's work which are of interest to AOAD. 

3. FAO shall be kept informed by AOAD of developments in the latter's work which are of interest to FAO.

Article IX
Administrative arrangements

The Director-General of AOAD and the Director-General of FAO shall make appropriate administrative arrangements to ensure effective cooperation and liaison between the Secretariats of the two organizations.

Article X
Implementation of the agreement

1. The Director-General of AOAD and the Director-General of FAO shall consult with each other on questions arising out of the present Agreement.

2. The Director-General of AOAD and the Director-General of FAO may make such supplementary administrative arrangements for the implementation of this Agreement as may appear desirable in the light of experience.

Article XI
Entry into force, amendment and termination

1. As soon as it has been approved by the appropriate Governing Bodies of AOAD and FAO, the present Agreement shall be signed by the appointed representatives of the two organizations and shall enter into force on the date of such signature.

2. The terms of this Agreement may be amended by mutual agreement. 

3. Either of the parties may terminate this Agreement by giving six months' written notice to the other party. Done in duplicate, in the English and the French languages, both texts being equally authentic.

For the Arab Organization for 
Agricultural Development 
For the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations


Name: Dr. Salem Al-Lozi  Name: Dr. Jacques Diouf
Title: Director-General  Title: Director-General
Date: Date:


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