Interpretation of 8/CP.17 on the establishment of the SB forum on response measures

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Date produced: 13/11/2013

Does the SB forum on response measures established under Decision 8/CP.17 automatically continue its work or does it require an additional COP decision?

At COP 17, Parties adopted a work programme with the objective of improving the understanding of the impact of the implementation of response measures in eight distinct areas (e.g. the economic and social consequences). The COP also established a forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures to be convened by the Chairs of the subsidiary bodies to meet twice a year (paragraph 3 of Decision 8/17) under a joint agenda  item of the subsidiary bodies and operate in accordance with the procedures applicable to contact groups (para.4).

The Parties agreed to “review at their thirty-ninth sessions the work of the forum, including the need for its continuation, with a view to providing recommendations to the Conference of the Parties at its nineteenth session” (para.5).

In accordance with the mandate agreed at COP 17, the forum met in conjunction with the sessions of the subsidiary bodies in Bonn and Doha in 2012, and in Bonn and Warsaw in 2013. During the most recent meeting on 12 November 2013 some Parties indicated that there was scope for further work of the forum.

However, with regard to the continuation of the forum’s work past the 39th sessions of the subsidiary bodies in Warsaw, Decision 8/CP.17 is not clear and allows for conflicting interpretations: a) that the forum was initially established until COP19 when the Parties would review its work and decide on its continuation, or b) that it was created on a more permanent basis until the Parties decide to discontinue its work at COP19 or thereafter.

Since paragraph 3 of Decision 8/17 does not refer to a possible completion date of the forum’s work and the agreed work programme envisages an ongoing dialogue in different areas (to improve the Parties’ understanding b) appears to be the better interpretation.

However, the COP has tasked the subsidiary bodies to review the work of the forum, “including the need for its continuation”. Hence, it is likely that the subsidiary bodies will at least implicitly address the continuation issue. The express mentioning of “need for continuation” in this connection merely describes the scope of the review mandate.

In the unlikely case that the recommendation of the subsidiary bodies to the COP and the subsequent decision by the COP do not address the question of continuation at all, the Chairs of SBI and SBSTA who have to convene the meetings of the forum would need to interpret the decisions of the COP. As mentioned above , the better interpretation (in this unlikely case) appears to be that the forum has not been discontinued and could therefore be reconvened.