TWN Info Service
on Health Issues (Nov09/03)
negotiations to prevent bio-piracy resume
There is a growing sense of urgency as there will be only one more week of negotiations in March 2010 before the CBD Conference of Parties (COP) meets in October 2010 to adopt the International Regime that aims at ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biological resources.
These negotiations were launched at the insistence of developing countries because of the continued lack of implementation of the CBD's third objective, i. e. the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biological resources. On the contrary, concerns over bio-piracy have grown since the CBD entered into force in 1994.
After four years of talks and several expert groups meetings, there is still no agreement on the nature of the International Regime (legally binding or non-legally binding or a mix of the two; one single instrument or a number of instruments).
countries (the 17-member group of Like Minded Megadiverse Countries
or LMMC, the African Group and the group of Latin American and
At Tuesday morning's plenary, a new grouping of like-minded Asia Pacific countries announced its formation, and they too support a single legally binding instrument.
far, countries from the Asia-Pacific region have been functioning under
an official UN grouping - the Asia Pacific Group, a large group which
is rather unique in that it consists of both developed and developing
countries. We are now entering a crucial stage of the negotiations and
developing countries from the Asia Pacific region wish to play an active
role in these negotiations. Hence, they have felt the imperative need
to discuss and address their commonality of interests through this newly
created Like Minded Asia Pacific Group," said Gurdial Singh Nijar
He added that the group will "work closely with other developing countries organized as the LMMC, GRULAC and the African Group".
Asia Pacific Regional Group has not been an active collective participant
in the negotiations due to fundamental differences between developing
and developed countries, especially
Developed countries have been resistant to a single legally binding instrument and while some countries now indicate that they may consider some form of legal binding nature, views differ in terms of one single instrument or a number of instruments (including existing ones). Some developed countries indicate willingness to consider a combination of binding and non-binding components.
In the opening plenary of the 8th meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing on Monday, co-chair Tim Hodges of Canada said that from the perspective of the co-chairs (himself and Fernando Casas of Colombia), this meeting is "the most important meeting in the history of this Working Group".
a scenario note dated 28 October for the
mandate to negotiate the International Regime on access and benefit
sharing (ABS) was adopted by CBD Parties in May 2004 and the regime
is scheduled to be adopted in
is an extraordinary meeting; it is not just a meeting, it is the meeting
where postponing action is not an option," said Jochen Flasbarth
Conference of the Parties is the highest decision-making body of the
CBD, and convenes every two years to adopt decisions. There is almost
universal UN membership of the CBD except for the
The week's work will focus on the negotiation of operative text on traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, capacity building, compliance (with the regime), fair and equitable benefit-sharing (arising from the use of genetic resources), as well as access to genetic resources. These are components of the international regime to be negotiated in a related but distinct step from the nature of the regime.
on Tuesday, two non-papers covering operative text submitted by Parties
and compiled for the first time, on traditional knowledge associated
with genetic resources, and on capacity building were the basis for
work in two separate contact groups.
Japan said that it is not in a position to accept a legally binding regime unconditionally though it is open to have some binding provisions on awareness-raising, and it is their view that the nature of the instrument can be determined after discussing the various elements of the International Regime.
The European Union said it follows the "form follows function" principle in the negotiations, and that for its part, the International Regime should include international access standards linked to compliance support measures that could constitute a mix of legally and non-legally binding measures.
The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity said that the International Regime must have legally binding elements protecting the traditional knowledge and genetic resources of indigenous peoples in accordance with relevant international instruments that affirm indigenous peoples' rights.
Meienberg, speaking for the civil society groups present in the
He added that a meaningful and effective system can only be built up if the ABS Protocol recognises and supports the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The NGO statement called upon all CBD Member States to support a legally binding International Regime and urged those that cannot at the present time envisage ratifying an ABS Protocol, to not block other countries who seek to achieve a meaningful Protocol.
recurring problem of difficulties in obtaining visas to travel to
African Group sentiment was supported by GRULAC,
Canadian officials at the meeting said informally that they have nothing to do with the changes in the visa processing procedures in developing countries. +