Consensus in the UNFCCC

Legal assistance paper

All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time the advice was produced. However, the materials have been prepared for informational purposes only and may have been superseded by more recent developments. They do not constitute formal legal advice or create a lawyer- client relationship. To the extent permitted any liability is excluded. Those consulting the database may wish to contact LRI for clarifications and an updated analysis.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Date produced: 21/11/2013

What is consensus in the UNFCCC ?

In the UN system, “consensus” does not require unanimity (in the sense of positive agreement by all) but rather means the absence of  objections.

The manner in which the Cancun Agreements were reached raises the question of how many stated objections are needed to prevent the consensus?

The recent UNFCCC practice suggests more than one – if not more.

In practice, it will depend on the interpretation of the President.

In this connection, rule 34 of the draft rules of procedure (which has been agreed and is not bracketed) may become of relevance.

It would allow a decision by the parties if the President’s interpretation is challenged by a party:

“During the discussion of any matter, a representative may at any time raise a point of order which shall be decided immediately by the President in accordance with these rules. A representative may appeal against the ruling of the President. The appeal shall be put to the vote immediately and the ruling shall stand unless overruled by a majority of the Parties present and voting. A representative may not, in raising a point of order, speak on the substance of the matter under discussion.”