The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 and entered into force on 11 September 2003.
On 29 January 2000, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a supplementary agreement to the Convention known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. It establishes an advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure for ensuring that countries are provided with the information necessary to make informed decisions before agreeing to the import of such organisms into their territory. The Protocol contains reference to a precautionary approach and reaffirms the precaution language in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The Protocol also establishes a Biosafety Clearing-House to facilitate the exchange of information on living modified organisms and to assist countries in the implementation of the Protocol.
Pursuant to Article 19, paragraph 3, of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Conference of the Parties, by its decision II/5, established an Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety to develop a draft protocol on biosafety, specifically focusing on transboundary movement of any living modified organism resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effect on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
The Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety held six meetings between July 1996 and February 1999. At its conclusion, the Working Group submitted a draft text of the Protocol, as well as the outstanding concerns of the Parties, for consideration by Conference of the Parties at its first extraordinary meeting, convened for the purpose of adopting a protocol on biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
In accordance with decision IV/3, the first extraordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties was opened on 22 February 1999, in Cartagena, Colombia. The Conference of the Parties was not able to finalize its work in the time available. As a result, by decision EM-I/1, the Conference of the Parties suspended its first extraordinary meeting and agreed that it should be reconvened as soon as possible and in any event no later than the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.
The resumed session took place in Montreal from 24 to 29 January 2000 and was preceded by regional and interregional informal consultations from 20 to 23 January 2000 at the same venue. On 29 January 2000, the Conference of the Parties, by its decision EM-I/3, adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity and approved interim arrangements pending its entry into force. It established an open-ended ad hoc Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP) with a mandate to undertake the preparations necessary for the first meeting of the Parties to the Protocol.
The ICCP Process
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP) was established in decision EM-I/3 adopting the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, to undertake the preparations necessary for the first meeting of the Parties to the Protocol.
Following its establishment, the ICCP convened an organizational meeting on 29 January 2000, chaired by Ambassador Yang of Cameroon, and elected a Bureau to oversee its activities. The members elected to the Bureau were: Cameroon (Chair), Denmark, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Peru, Poland, Saint Kitts and Nevis, South Africa, Switzerland and Ukraine. At the first meeting of the ICCP, Denmark was replaced by France. The first task of the Bureau was to develop a work plan for the ICCP which was submitted, to and endorsed by, the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in May 2000.
The ICCP held three meetings between 2000 and 2003. The first meeting (ICCP 1) was held 11-15 December 2000 in Montpellier, France; the second meeting (ICCP 2) was held 1-5 October 2001 in Nairobi, Kenya; and the third meeting (ICCP 3) was held 22-26 April 2002 in The Hague, The Netherlands, back-to-back with the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.
The ICCP Bureau held more than 10 oversight meetings over a period of four years of its existence. The ICCP submitted its final report to the first meeting of the Parties to the Protocol which was held 23-27 February 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Entry into force
The Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003, ninety days after the deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification. In accordance with Article 29, paragraph 1, of the Protocol, the COP to the Convention serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP), the governing body of the Protocol.
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