COP Decisions: Substance and Mandates

Briefing paper

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Date produced: 04/10/2010

The form of outcome of the work of the AWG-LCA at COP16 in Cancun is yet to be decided by the parties. The potential options that parties are considering include the conclusion of a new treaty or protocol, a series of COP decisions in respect of each of the AWG-LCA contact groups and a COP decision setting out a formal mandate for the conclusion of a new treaty or protocol at COP17 in South Africa (or by some other later date).

In this briefing paper we focus on the latter two options. We first examine the legally binding nature of COP decisions generally under international law and then go on to apply these principles in the context of using:

a. COP decisions for the form of outcome from the AWG-LCA negotiations (we will focus on mitigation targets and finance obligations, but similar considerations apply for other issues under negotiation in the AWG-LCA); and

b. COP decisions to create a negotiating mandate for future sessions of the AWG-LCA.