International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The Multilateral System

The Third Party Beneficiary

The Multilateral System itself is a true beneficiary of the SMTA's benefit-sharing provisions. Although the material is transferred from the Provider to the Recipient, it is actually part of the global gene pool of the Multilateral System and, consequently, considered by the SMTA as ultimately coming from the MLS. The same is true on the benefit-sharing side, where non-monetary and monetary benefits do not flow to the individual Provider, but to the Multilateral System and to the International Treaty community as a whole.

Given this arrangement, neither the Provider nor the Recipient has a particular interest in enforcing the obligations of their contract partner under the SMTA. Therefore, Contracting Parties to the International Treaty decided to apply the concept of the Third Party Beneficiary to the SMTA. The idea was to establish an entity for monitoring compliance with the terms and conditions of the SMTA and safeguard the interests of the Multilateral System.

The Third Party Beneficiary represents the interests of the Multilateral System, in particular by exercising its right to:

  • request appropriate information from the Provider and the Recipient;
  • initiate a dispute settlement procedure, in the event of a breach of the terms and conditions of the SMTA; and
  • represent the Multilateral System in the dispute settlement procedure, including by requesting that the appropriate information (including samples as needed) be made available by parties to the SMTA.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been designated to act as the Third Party Beneficiary under the Multilateral System.

For more information on the rights of the Third Party Beneficiary, see in particular Articles 4 and 8 of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement. For more information on the operations of the Third Party Beneficiary, see Third Party Beneficiary Procedures and the Third Party Beneficiary reports to each session of the Governing Body.

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