International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

FAQs on Compliance

A. General questions about the compliance mechanism

A. General questions about the compliance mechanism

What is the compliance work area?

Procedures and mechanisms established under the compliance mechanism are there to monitor and support efforts by Contracting Parties to implement the provisions of the International Treaty. This area comprises the work of the Compliance Committee, national reporting, a range of capacity development initiatives and training activities by Contracting Parties, regions and others, as well as use of information about International Treaty implementation for reporting processes under other multilateral instruments, such as the Sustainable Development Agenda, and support offered by the International Treaty Secretariat on these matters.

What are the purpose and idea of the compliance mechanism under the International Treaty?

The general idea is to promote compliance by Contracting Parties with all the provisions of the International Treaty and address potential issues of non-compliance. The purpose is both to monitor implementation and provide support, advice and assistance, especially to developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

I would like to have an overview of national-level measures to implement the International Treaty. Is the compliance area a good starting point?

Definitely. The national reports give a comprehensive overview of what Contracting Parties are doing at national level in International Treaty matters.

Where can I find further information about the rules that govern compliance under the International Treaty? Would this include commitments that Contracting Parties have made?

The International Treaty provides for the general compliance framework through Article 21. However, a more detailed description of Contracting Parties’ commitments on compliance is contained in the Compliance Procedures, including the agreed objectives, principles and institutional mechanisms, as well as the functions of the Compliance Committee and the various measures and procedures to promote compliance and address issues of non-compliance. The Governing Body of the International Treaty also approved  in 2013 detailed Rules of Procedure for the Compliance Committee (see also questions below).

B. National reporting and monitoring

B. National reporting and monitoring

What is the difference between national reporting and compliance?

National reporting is an important component of the compliance mechanism. The reports allow the Governing Body and the International Treaty community at large to have a clear picture of national implementation of the International Treaty.

Who is reporting under the International Treaty?

Reports are to be submitted by Contracting Parties at regular intervals.

How often do Contracting Parties send their national reports?

Contracting Parties are required to send their national reports every five years.

I would like to have a look at the national reports. Where can I find them?

All national reports are published on the website of the International Treaty, in the language and format received. You can see them here.

So the national reports are not confidential?

No. The publication of all national reports increases the transparency of the monitoring process, in the view of the Compliance Committee. Following the guidance of the Compliance Committee, the Secretariat therefore publishes all reports on the International Treaty website.

I represent a Contracting Party, so how can I report?

You can follow these steps.

Reporting has become an exercise in several bodies and agreements. To make things easier, can I reuse language already sent for reports under the Global Plan of Action for PGRFA?

Yes, you can reuse, summarize and refer to content of the national report under the Global Plan of Action, also inserting links to it or uploading any additional useful information, for example regarding conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA (Articles 5 and 6).

I would like to know more about the Online Reporting System.

The Online Reporting System has been developed in collaboration with the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nation Environment Programme.  It is a framework system used by several multilateral environmental agreements and biodiversity-related conventions that is customizable with the corresponding reporting formats. It offers functions that have been tested with other treaties and conventions and both the users and the parties benefit from previous experience. The Secretariat has prepared and regularly updates a short manual that can be requested at [email protected], together with login credentials.

I would like to report on measures in my country, but I’m not a national focal point, nor am I working for the government. How can I contribute?

Please contact your national focal point.  The reports that are online can be also updated at any given point. The Online Reporting System allows Contracting Parties to update single questions or groups of questions and resubmit these without having to rewrite the entire report.

I am interested in having an overview of implementation of the International Treaty throughout all regions and Contracting Parties, but it seems cumbersome to read all national reports. Where can I find more information in an aggregate form?

You can refer to the synthesis and analysis reports prepared by the Compliance Committee and presented to the Governing Body at each session. Some of the information received from the Contracting Parties is reused under several indicators in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals reporting process.

C. Compliance Committee

C. Compliance Committee

How is the Compliance Committee composed?

The Compliance Committee comprises up to 14 members – 2 from each of the FAO regions and not more than 1 from the same Contracting Party. Members shall be elected by the Governing Body on the basis of nominations from each of the 7 FAO regions. You can check the terms of reference and the composition of the Committee here

Are there only lawyers in the Compliance Committee?

No. Members of the Committee shall have recognized competence in the field of genetic resources or other fields relevant for the International Treaty, including legal or technical expertise, and they should serve objectively and in their individual capacity.

Who are the current members and who currently chairs the Compliance Committee?

You can check the composition here

Does the Compliance Committee only look at possible issues of non-compliance?

The Compliance Committee does look at issue of non-compliance, but its functions are much wider. For example, on request, the Committee provides advice and facilitates assistance on questions related to implementation of the International Treaty. This includes questions of a legal nature, with the exception of issues related to the Standard Material Transfer Agreement, which are not part of the Committee’s mandate.

Can I obtain further information on the discussions of the Compliance Committee, or is its work confidential?  I would like to have  details of the roles, functions and modus operandi  of the Compliance Committee, so where can I find this information?

Records of Compliance Committee meetings are published on the International Treaty website, as are the Committee’s reports to each session of the Governing Body. These reports are translated into all the official languages of the International Treaty, whereas the meeting records are only available in English. The roles, functions and modus operandi of the Compliance Committee are defined in the Compliance Procedures and the Rules of Procedure of the Compliance Committee. You may also want to consider the Resolutions of the Governing Body on Compliance that are relevant to understanding the mandate and the work of this Committee.

I have a question about the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA). Can I obtain information from the Compliance Committee?

No. Questions related to the SMTA are not part of the Compliance Committee’s mandate. Please consult the subpage on the Multilateral System or contact the Treaty Secretariat at [email protected].

D. Capacity development and further support

D. Capacity development and further support

I represent a Contracting Party and I have a technical question related to International Treaty implementation. Can I obtain advice from the Compliance Committee?

Yes. A Contracting Party may, through the Secretary, address to the Compliance Committee statements and questions concerning the implementation of its own obligations under the International Treaty. One of the functions of the Compliance Committee is to offer advice or facilitate assistance to any Contracting Party, on matters related to compliance, with a view to assisting it in complying with its obligations under the International Treaty. The Governing Body actively encourages Contracting Parties to submit technical questions to the Compliance Committee for its consideration and response (Resolution 7/2019).

I have a question about the compliance mechanism. Can the Secretariat help?

Yes, the Secretariat launched a helpdesk in 2021. Please send your questions to [email protected].

I would like to organize a workshop, in my country or region, on International Treaty implementation and national reporting. Can I receive support from the Secretariat?

The Secretariat con provide information, presentations and support. Please contact the Secretariat at [email protected] to discuss the possible options.

Where can I obtain further support, advice or assistance on the compliance mechanism or general International Treaty implementation questions?

The Secretariat brings to the attention of the Compliance Committee requests received for support, advice or assistance. The concerned Contracting Party can also contact the member of the Compliance Committee for the respective region. In addition, you can check the dedicated section of the International Treaty website, where information and materials are published on a regular basis in several languages.

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