COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
Rome, 25-29 January 1999, Red Room
PROGRESS IN THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATIONS OF AN INTERNATIONAL LEGALLY-BINDING INSTRUMENT FOR THE APPLICATION OF THE PRIOR INFORMED CONSENT (PIC) PROCEDURE FOR CERTAIN HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS AND PESTICIDES IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE (ROTTERDAM CONVENTION)
1. On 11 September 1998 the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (PIC Convention) was adopted at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries convened jointly by FAO and UNEP and was signed by 62 states and Regional Economic Integration Organizations. The Conference of Plenipotentiaries also adopted a Resolution on Interim Arrangements. This document describes the progress of the negotiations for information of members of COAG, and draws attention to the interim arrangements adopted by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries.
Process of the negotiations:
2. In 1989 the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)and the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) incorporated the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure for pesticides and other chemicals that are banned or severely restricted into the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides and the London Guidelines on the Exchange of Information on Chemicals in International Trade respectively. Since then, FAO and UNEP have jointly executed the voluntary PIC procedure.
3. In 1992 the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), made recommendations for the conclusion of a legally binding instrument on Prior Informed Consent in Chapter 19 of Agenda 21. Paragraph 19.39 (d) of Agenda 21 states that Governments and relevant international organizations with the cooperation of industry should implement the PIC procedure as soon as possible and, in the light of experience gained, invite relevant international organizations such as UNEP, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), FAO, World Health Organization (WHO) and others to consider working expeditiously in their respective area of competence towards the conclusion of legally binding instruments.
4. In 1994 the FAO Council at its Hundred-and-seventh Session discussed the development of a legally binding instrument on the operation of the PIC procedure, and agreed that the FAO Secretariat, in co-operation with other international and non-governmental organisations concerned, should proceed with the preparation of a draft legally binding instrument on the operation of the PIC procedure as part of the joint FAO/UNEP programme on prior informed consent.
5. At its Eighteenth Session in 1995 the UNEP Governing Council authorized the Executive Director to convene, together with FAO, an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC/PIC), with a mandate to prepare an international legally binding instrument for the application of the PIC procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade. The Council also requested the Executive Director to convene, together with FAO, a Diplomatic Conference for the purpose of adopting and signing this instrument.
6. In line with the guidance provided by their respective governing bodies, FAO and UNEP convened the First and Second Sessions of the INC/PIC in March and September 1996.
7. In October 1996 the FAO Council discussed the progress of the PIC negotiations. The Council expressed its satisfaction with the progress of the negotiations and the cooperation between UNEP and FAO in the provision of the secretariat to the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee. The Council indicated that the INC/PIC should continue focusing its attention on the elaboration of practical and operational procedures to implement the PIC procedure; recognized that the secretariat arrangements for the instrument would be decided upon by the INC/PIC and ultimately by the Diplomatic Conference convened to adopt the instrument.
8. In January 1997, the UNEP Governing Council noted with appreciation the progress made by the INC/PIC at its First and Second Sessions, confirmed the existing mandate of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee and invited the INC/PIC to continue its work.
9. The Third and Fourth session of the INC/PIC were convened in May and October 1997 respectively.
10. At its Fourth Session, the INC/PIC requested the Director-General of FAO and the Executive Director of UNEP to submit a recommendation to their governing bodies, requesting that they:
11. Consider mandating the involvement of FAO and UNEP in the operation of an Interim Secretariat and the Secretariat to the Convention as set out in the draft Convention text being considered for adoption by the Diplomatic Conference;
12. Agree to accept any modifications in the voluntary PIC procedure decided upon by the Diplomatic Conference.
13. In November 1997 the FAO Conference authorized the participation of the FAO Secretariat in an Interim Secretariat and in a Secretariat to the Convention if so desired during the negotiations and adopted by the Diplomatic Conference, provided that such arrangements were satisfactory to the Director-General and that costs additional to the implementation of the present voluntary procedure be met through extra-budgetary resources. The Conference also agreed to accept changes in the voluntary PIC procedure, if so decided by the Diplomatic Conference, provided that costs additional to the implementation of the present voluntary procedure be met through extra-budgetary resources.
14. The Fifth Session of the INC/PIC was convened in March 1998 in Brussels at the invitation of the European Community and reached agreement on the draft PIC Convention and a draft resolution on interim arrangements.
15. In May 1998 the UNEP Governing Council authorized the participation of the UNEP secretariat in an Interim Secretariat and in a Secretariat to the Convention if so decided by the Diplomatic Conference, provided that such arrangements were satisfactory to the Executive Director and that costs additional to the implementation of the present voluntary procedure be met through extra-budgetary resources. The Council also agreed to accept changes in the voluntary PIC procedure, if so decided by the Diplomatic Conference, provided that costs additional to the implementation of the present voluntary procedure be met through extra-budgetary resources.
The Conference of Plenipotentiaries:
16. FAO and UNEP, at the invitation of the Government of the Netherlands, convened a Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Rotterdam, September 1998. The Conference adopted the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. Eighty members of the UN or FAO signed the Final Act of the Conference and Sixty-two members of the UN or FAO signed the Convention during the Conference. The Convention remains open for signature at UN Headquarters in New York until 10 September 1999. It will enter into force on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. Based on the recent precedents of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and of the Convention on Biological Diversity it would seem reasonable to assume that the Convention might enter into force in the course of 2001. In this case the First Session of the Conference of the Parties might take place late in 2001 or early in 2002, but other scenarios are possible.
The Resolution on Interim Arrangements:
17. The Conference of Plenipotentiaries also adopted a resolution on interim arrangements which, inter alia, changed the voluntary PIC Procedure to bring it into line with the procedure established by the Convention from the date on which the Convention was opened for signature (11 September 1998); requested the Executive Director of UNEP and the Director-General of FAO to jointly provide secretariat services for the operation of the interim PIC Procedure; invited them to convene further meetings of the INC/PIC in the interim period to oversee the operation of the revised voluntary PIC Procedure; and to prepare for and service the First Session of the Conference of the Parties.
18. States and Regional Economic Integration Organizations will have to make voluntary contributions to the trust fund established by UNEP in order to support the interim arrangements and the operation of the Conference of the Parties until the end of the fiscal year in which the first meeting of the Conference of Parties takes place, and to ensure the full and effective participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the further work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee;
19. States and Regional Economic Integration Organizations with more advanced programmes for regulating chemicals should provide technical assistance, including training, to others in developing their infrastructure and capacities to manage chemicals throughout their life-cycle, particularly in view of the urgent need for their participation in the effective operation of the Convention once it enters into force;
20. States and Regional Economic Integration Organizations entitled to do so should consider signing, ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to the Convention with a view to bringing it into force as soon as possible.
Implementation of the Interim Arrangements:
21. FAO and UNEP have made preparations to establish the Joint Interim Secretariat. The Director of UNEP Chemicals and the Chief of the Plant Protection Service of FAO have been designated as Joint Secretaries. They have initiated the implementation of the revised PIC Procedure and the preparation of the Sixth INC/PIC. If funding is secured in time it is envisaged that the Sixth INC/PIC will meet in July 1999.
22. The progress in the negotiations and the adoption of the Rotterdam Convention will be discussed at the Governing Council of UNEP in February 1999.
23. A further report will be submitted to the next sessions of the FAO Council and Conference on the progress in the establishment of the joint interim secretariat, the implementation of the interim voluntary procedure and the status of signatures, ratifications and accession to the Convention.
24. The above is submitted for the information of the Committee.