COP8 Bulletin Day 6 – Saturday October 6
The fog of war lifts!
By the time you read this, many delegates will be mentally half out of the door. It’s been a gruelling week of drafting groups, white papers, and editing by committee, and we are almost done – almost.
Because, of course, there is usually one last issue that crops up on the final points in Committee A or Committee B, perhaps even in the final plenary. We shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back until the very last decision is taken.
Take stock: there have been significant achievements at COP8, most notably the new Global Strategy to Accelerate Tobacco Control, which should guide our collective efforts through to 2025. And yes, that will include an implementation Review Mechanism (IRM), albeit only as a pilot project. We hope we will learn from that pilot and be in a position to endorse the IRM at COP9.
In Committee B, there were also successes. Parties agreed to shift core funding so that some of the work outlined in the Global Strategy can begin in 2020. They also mandated the Convention Secretariat to explore new mechanisms for fundraising for the Secretariat’s workplan and budget.
There were disappointments too, such as the COP’s decision to keep the budget frozen for another biennium. We can only hope that future budgets, closely tied to the Global Strategy, will convince governments to loosen the purse strings.
And then there was the atmosphere of COP8. The frustration of enduring industry proxies’ efforts to delay, distract, and obstruct – in this respect, a sad repeat of COP7. And too much time – even amongst the good-faith delegates – spent haggling over words, rather than discussing our shared objective of reducing tobacco-caused deaths as quickly as possible.
Before COP9, Parties need to take decisive steps to curtail industry obstructionism – a crucial task that the incoming Bureau in particular will need to take forward.
But adversity breeds solidarity. The overwhelming majority of delegates worked hard to advance our common cause of closing the still gigantic gap between the promise of the FCTC and the reality of its under-implementation. This is a solid foundation on which to build.
Our thanks to the staff of the Convention Secretariat, who put in extraordinarily long hours all week.
Safe travels to all, and see you in 2020!