February 1997




Fourteenth Session

Rome, 7-11 April 1997, Red Room



Item 7 of the Provisional Agenda


1 .A proposal to revise the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) was submitted to the Twenty-eighth FAO Conference in 1995 at the recommendation of the Thirteenth Session of COAG. The Conference accorded high priority to the revision.

2. In June 1995, in anticipation of the Conference decision, the Secretariat of the IPPC requested National Plant Protection Organizations to submit issues for the review. Based on their comments and those of the Seventh Technical Consultation among Regional Plant Protection Organizations (1995), a draft proposal for revision of the IPPC was prepared and submitted to an Expert Consultation on the Revision of the IPPC which was held in March 1996. The Experts served in their personal capacity and were selected on the basis of technical knowledge and to ensure a wide geographical representation. Major issues considered by the Experts were the coverage of the Convention, i.e. whether the Convention should cover plant protection or plant quarantine only, and whether specific language related to regulated non-quarantine pests should be included in the Convention; environmental issues; the alignment with the Uruguay Round Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures; the standard-setting mechanism, including the establishment of a Commission on Phytosanitary Measures; the dispute settlement procedure; provisions for the IPPC Secretariat; provisions for Regional Plant Protection Organizations, and the phytosanitary certificates and certification procedure. The possibility of allowing for adherence to the IPPC by Regional Economic Integration Organizations was also considered in principle, though not in detail.

3. The draft proposal as revised to take into account the comments of the Expert Consultation, together with the report of the Expert Consultation, was circulated on 29 June 1996 to all FAO members and other contracting parties to the Convention with a request for comments by 15 August 1996. Comments were provided by various agencies and ministries of FAO members. The draft was also discussed by the Eighth Technical Consultation among Regional Plant Protection Organizations in September 1996. The draft proposal and all comments were submitted to an intergovernmental Technical Consultation on the Revision of the IPPC, which met in Rome from 13-17 January 1997.

4. The Technical Consultation was attended by delegates from 94 FAO members, by observers from the Russian Federation, the World Trade Organization and two Regional Plant Protection Organizations. One Trade Federation also participated as an observer. The Technical Consultation agreed in principle that the revised text should allow for the adherence of member organizations of FAO, although a number of participants were not in a position to give their agreement at the Consultation to a final text on this matter. The Technical Consultation also redrafted text for a number of Articles of the Convention. The Consultation generally agreed with the inclusion of a standard-setting mechanism in the Convention and there was strong support for the establishment of a Commission. However, many members expressed concern about the financial resources required to operate such a Commission. Some members wished to explore alternatives to the Commission. The Consultation generally agreed with the inclusion of regulated non-quarantine pests. The phytosanitary certificate and the certification system still remain under discussion. Also some definitions, in particular the definition of phytosanitary measures, will have to be finalized.

5. The Consultation did not complete its revision of the text of the Convention and recommended that COAG consider establishing a working group, open to COAG members, current parties to the IPPC and the World Trade Organization, at the beginning of COAG for a period of three days to be charged with negotiating a final recommended text of a revised IPPC, and to report back to COAG thereon at the end of its Session.

Conclusions and suggested action by the Committee

6. The Committee, in light of the above, is invited to consider establishing an open-ended working group in accordance with the recommendations of the Technical Consultation; to consider the report of the Technical Consultation, together with the recommendations of its Working Group and, in light of the outcome of the Working Group, to recommend that the draft amendments to the IPPC be submitted to the Council at its Hundred-and-twelfth Session in June 1997 for endorsement and onward transmission to the FAO Conference at its Twenty-ninth Session in November 1997 for adoption. Meanwhile the proposed amendments will also be referred by the Director-General separately to the Committee on Constitutional and Legal matters (CCLM) at its Sixty-sixth Session in May 1997, which will report to the Council in June 1997 on the constitutional and legal aspects of the recommended amendments.