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International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The Multilateral System

Capacity Building Programme for Developing Countries on Implementation of the Treaty and its Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing

The International Treaty is an operational Treaty, which establishes functional systems (in particular the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-Sharing). It needs to process hundreds of daily transactions on a concrete, practical and coherent manner by numerous actors and institutions. The success and future of the International Treaty depends on this practical functioning of its systems.

The national and regional implementation of the Treaty’s Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-Sharing requires extensive capacity building at the different policy and administrative levels. Capacity building initiatives should include a broad range of activities, including legislative advice, administrative support, infrastructure building and human resources development.

Contracting Parties have to deal with the particular issues arising in the implementation of the International Treaty and its Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-Sharing and many of those Contracting Parties that are developing countries seek assistance in the task of developing new institutional, legal and administrative infrastructure to implement the International Treaty.

The joint capacity building programme has been designed and implemented to respond to some of those requests for assistance, based on priorities established by the Governing Body and available funding. The programme is coordinated by the Secretary of the International Treaty and jointly executed by FAO and Bioversity International. The programme operates through close partnerships with relevant regional organizations and Treaty national focal points.

Results

Based on available funding and requests for assistance, the joint capacity building programme, over the first two years of its existence, has improved knowledge of the structure and mechanisms of the Multilateral System among regional and national stakeholders, and upgraded the institutional, legal and administrative infrastructure for operation of the Multilateral System in selected regional organizations and countries. Results under this first phase of the joint capacity building programme include an increasing level of engagement in Treaty processes by regional organizations and recipient countries; a number of implementing legal and administrative schemes in place; and a number of notifications of inclusion of material in the Multilateral System.

Beneficiaries

The short-term direct beneficiaries are the agricultural government authorities of the countries receiving direct assistance under the joint capacity building programme.  Longer-term direct beneficiaries are the individuals and organizations in the countries concerned which, with strengthened capacity to use the Multilateral System, have access to an exponentially greater diversity of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Farmers, for example, can deploy those resources into the diversity they manage on farm. Researchers are free to use it as inputs for breeding or for evaluation work, identifying and deploying useful traits.

The ultimate beneficiaries are present and future generations who will benefit from proper implementation of the International Treaty and its Multilateral System, and from improved flows of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture to face new challenges to food security, such as climate change.

Information Technology Tools in Support of the MLS

Information Technology Tools in Support of the MLS

After the start of the operations within the Multilateral System of the International Treaty, the Secretariat has developed a set of voluntary information technology tools to support the users in the drafting of the SMTA and in their reporting obligations.

In order to facilitate the reporting obligations of the provider of material, the Secretariat developed and published in November 2010 an information system that allows the online reporting at accession level for all Annex 1 crops. The information submitted through this system is kept confidential. The secretariat is also working on the development of a new service that will allow both the generation and the reporting in order to save both time and efforts.

In 2009 the Secretariat also released an easy-to-use stand alone software application to assist in the drafting of the SMTA in a semi-automated way (Gene-IT). The tool, developed in collaboration with CIRAD, is a stand-alone wizard program distributed in CD-ROM that can also be downloaded free of charge from the website. 

 

 

What is the Third Party Beneficiary?

What is the Third Party Beneficiary?

Facilitated access and benefit-sharing under the Multilateral System are provided pursuant to the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) which contains contractual terms and conditions applicable to providers and recipients of material. By concluding an SMTA, individual providers and recipients become bound to those contractual terms and conditions.

The Third Party Beneficiary is an entity designated by the Governing Body of the International Treaty and which acts on behalf of the Governing Body itself and the Multilateral System to ensure observance of the contractual terms and conditions of the SMTA by the individual providers and recipients.

What are the role and functions of the Third Party Beneficiary?

The role and functions of the Third Party Beneficiary are set forth in the SMTA and thus accepted by the individual providers and recipients that are bound to the agreement. In accordance with the SMTA, the Third Party Beneficiary is conferred the following rights:

  • the right to request information to parties to the SMTA, as required by various provisions of the agreement;
  • the right to initiate dispute settlement procedures regarding rights and obligations of the parties to the SMTA;
  • in the context of dispute settlement, the right to request that the appropriate information, including samples as necessary, be made available by parties to the SMTA, regarding their obligations. 

FAO acting as Third Party Beneficiary and the Third Party Beneficiary Procedures

Upon invitation of the Governing Body of the International Treaty, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has accepted to act as Third Party Beneficiary.

The Governing Body has established procedures for FAO to perform the role and functions of Third Party Beneficiary.

The Procedures define the role and functions of FAO in cases of non-compliance with the obligations of the SMTA through a system of progressive escalation, which consists of:

   (i) the initial gathering of information with regard to a dispute;

   (ii) amicable dispute settlement;

   (iii) mediation; and

   (iv) arbitration.

Information gathering is an informal action, which allows FAO to become aware of a possible case of non-compliance. FAO may receive and use information on cases of non compliance from the parties to the SMTA or any other person. Where FAO has received such information, it may request additional information from the parties to the SMTA.

If the information so gathered leads FAO to believe that a possible case of non-compliance might have occurred, FAO may trigger amicable negotiations through an initial notice to the parties to the SMTA.

If the dispute cannot be resolved by negotiation, FAO shall commence or encourage the parties to the SMTA to commence mediation proceedings. FAO shall propose to the parties in dispute that mediation be carried out through a set of Mediation Rules that were approved by the Governing Body of the International Treaty and are administered by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center.

If the dispute has not been resolved by mediation within six months of the commencement of the mediation or if it otherwise appears that the dispute cannot be resolved within twelve months after the issuance of initial notice, FAO may submit the dispute to binding arbitration.

The list of mediation and arbitration experts is available online as well as the information on the nominations of experts.

Third Party Beneficiary Procedures: Nomination of Experts

Third Party Beneficiary Procedures: Nomination of Experts

At its Third Session, the Governing Body requested compilation of a list of experts in accordance with the Third Party Beneficiary Procedures. In the context of dispute settlement, the parties to a Standard Material Transfer Agreement may appoint mediators and arbitrators from such a list of experts.

Criteria for inclusion in the list of experts, as established by the Governing Body, are the following:

    a) Highest professional qualities, qualification and expertise in relevant fields
    b) Reputation for independence, fairness, competence and integrity;
    c) Appropriate language skills;
    d) Expressed willingness to accept the role of mediator, arbitrator or expert in dispute settlement in relation to the Standard Material Transfer Agreement.

Bearing in mind these criteria, professionals who are interested in being included in the list are invited to put themselves forward by filling the Form that is attached and sending an electronic copy thereof to the following email address: PGRFA-Treaty@fao.org

Candidates that meet the stipulated criteria and are included in the list will be notified accordingly.

Inclusion in the list does not imply any obligation whatsoever on the part the Secretariat of the International Treaty or the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, nor does it entail any form of remuneration to any expert for being listed.

List of mediation and arbitration experts

List of mediation and arbitration experts


Ms Gigi Manicad
Nationality: Philippines


Mr Alois LEIDWEIN
Nationality: Austria


Mr Javad MOZAFARI
Nationality: Iran (Islamic Republic of)


Mr Stan BENDA
Nationality: Canada


Samih Botrous EL-HAJJ
Nationality: Lebanon


Hojjat KHADEMI
Nationality: Iran (Islamic Republic of)


Eric CANAL-FORGUES
Nationality: France


Muriel LIGHTBOURNE
Nationality: France

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