International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The Multilateral System

Basic Features of the SMTA

The International Treaty facilitates access to the Multilateral System by using an enforceable standard contract, whose provisions may not be altered:

The Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) ensures significantly lower transaction costs compared with the negotiation of a contract for each access of germplasm under a bilateral approach, while ensuring legal certainty for the provider, the recipient and the Multilateral System itself.

The SMTA contains those provisions that govern the exchange of material under the Multilateral System and is used for every transfer of material. If any recipient transfers the material to a subsequent recipient, another SMTA is signed, thereby ensuring compliance with the terms of the Multilateral System well beyond the initial transfer.

In order to ensure compliance, monitoring and transparency, the SMTA sets forth specific reporting obligations by providers and users. In addition, it contains a multitiered dispute settlement clause, providing for amicable dispute resolution, mediation and binding international arbitration in an escalating manner. Consequently, the provisions of the SMTA are legally enforceable, and action can be taken to enforce them through arbitration.

The SMTA was negotiated after the entry into force of the International Treaty and adopted by the Governing Body at its first session in 2006, based on a specific provision in the International Treaty. It has been in use since January 2007.

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