28 Nov 2016
FCA identified three interlinked implementation-related priorities for COP7 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC):
- Follow-up on the 30-percent prevalence reduction target agreed at COP6;
- Establishment of an implementation review mechanism (IRM: i.e. a system to review Parties’ reports);
- Action on fundraising for national-level implementation, building on the work of the sustainable measures working group.
At the meeting there was action on all three, though with a somewhat surprising twist with respect to IRM. Rather than immediately establishing an implementation review committee, Parties instead set up a working group to draft a “strategic framework” for the FCTC – which should deal with a range of implementation issues, including a possible IRM. The working group will also review and prioritize Parties’ needs for implementation assistance and will reflect them in the strategic framework. It is quite common for treaty bodies to draw up strategic plans, and these have proven to be helpful both to keep a tight focus on priority issues and to raise funds.
On the 30-percent target, Parties requested that the Secretariat and WHO hold a technical consultation between COP7 and COP8 to identify necessary actions that the COP could take to ensure that the global voluntary target is achieved. The decision also requests that the Secretariat collect information regarding national targets. There were other notable debates at COP7. On the Illicit Trade Protocol, unlike during previous COP sessions, there was widespread recognition that people shouldn’t wait until the ITP is in force before thinking about some of the implementation issues that are likely to arise. On e-cigarettes, Parties spent a considerable amount of time re-hashing the issue, and butted heads for quite a while on the exact wording of a decision. The COP7 decision is quite similar to what was decided at COP6. Finally, there were a host of other decisions. (COP7 had the longest list of official documents of any COP session to date.) These included:
Art 5.3 Knowledge Hub
- On Article 5.3, a decision to establish a Knowledge Hub, and to ask the Secretariat to continue promoting measures to address tobacco industry interference among UN agencies.
- On Article 9/10, additions to the existing guidelines were adopted. These included provisions to regulate design features that increase attractiveness (e.g. slims), and disclosure to governments of the contents of tobacco products.
- Continuing work on Article 17&18, including a request to WHO to develop guidelines for surveillance, prevention and early diagnosis of occupational harms and risks specific to tobacco cultivation and manufacture.
- Endorsement of a toolkit on Article 19 developed by an expert group, as well as some follow-up by the Secretariat.
- On the FCTC impact assessment submitted to COP7, the COP welcomed the findings but did not commit to repeating the exercise immediately, instead encouraging Parties to consider evaluating on a regular basis the impact of the Convention at country level.
- On cross-border advertising, establishment of a new expert group to provide recommendations on operationalizing the implementation of Article 13 and its Guidelines on cross-border advertising and TAPS in entertainment media.
- On Waterpipe: a request for a report to COP8 including a situation analysis and an overview of challenges and recommendations for improving the prevention and control of water pipe tobacco use.
- On Gender: the Secretariat and WHO were requested to prepare a paper for COP8 on opportunities and challenges in implementing gender-specific tobacco control policies.
- On trade and investment agreements, the COP called on Parties to increase coordination and cooperation between health and trade/investment departments, including in the context of negotiations of trade and investment agreements. It also requested a report for COP8 on a number of topics, including on practices in promoting and safeguarding public health measures under trade and investment agreements.
- Moving to institutional matters, COP7 decided the following:
‘Voluntary’ no more
- Parties’ mandatory payments to the FCTC budget will now be called Assessed Contributions (not Voluntary Assessed Contributions). The COP also agreed on a scheme of penalties should a Party fail to provide these payments.
- The Convention Secretariat should consider holding a financing dialogue to raise extra-budgetary funding for the FCTC budget and to alert funders to the implementation needs of Parties. It was also agreed that when raising funds from stakeholders other than Parties, the Secretariat should follow the practices agreed on in WHO’s Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA).
- The Secretariat was tasked to undertake a review of accreditation of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) with the status of observer to the Conference of the Parties, as proposed by the COP7 report. At COP8, results of this review will be discussed and further decisions, such as whether this review should take place on a regular basis or whether observer status may be discontinued for some IGOs, might be taken.
- The observer status of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) was extended for most of the current observers. In addition, the following three NGOs were granted an observer status: American Cancer Society, Inter-American Heart Foundation, Vision mondiale de la santé / World Vision Health. A number of organizations were denied observer status per the recommendation of the Bureau.
- The Secretariat was encouraged to apply for observer status to a number of UN bodies and other relevant entities, including UNDP, World Bank, ILO, FAO, and WTO. The Secretariat’s participation at governing body meetings of these organizations could raise the profile of the treaty and its provisions, including the Article 5.3 principles.
- Synergies between the WHO and FCTC governing bodies – the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the World Health Assembly (WHA) – were strengthened by agreeing that reports on decisions from COP will be presented to WHA and vice versa.
WHO and FCTC agreement
- The Bureau was requested to oversee and guide the preparation of the draft hosting terms between the Convention Secretariat and WHO. Once finalized, the hosting agreement should clarify the exact WHO contributions to support the work of the Convention Secretariat.
- A dedicated methodology to review performance of the Head of the Secretariat was agreed upon. The review of performance for the current Head is set to take place in 2017, as her mandate expires in mid-2018.
- The COP took no decision on transparency of Party delegations (i.e. whether Party delegates should make a declaration on any links with the tobacco industry, and what possible follow-up steps should take place). This point will be reviewed again at COP8.
Finally, on the issue of the FCTC budget, it was decided that the budget for 2018-2019 covered by Parties’ mandatory payments will be lowered by nearly US$300,000 compared to the budget for the current biennium. As a result, virtually all activities included in the workplan for 2018-2019 will need to be funded by extra-budgetary contributions. Please note that the above summary is not an exhaustive list of all the decisions taken at COP7, and there may be surprises in the final version of the decisions when they are published (in part because many decisions were not finalized till very late in the session.)