Tag Article | Biosafety Clearing-House

BCH National Focal Points

  23 Nov 2021

The establishment and upkeep of the BCH is an ongoing process. To supplement and implement Article 20 of the Cartagena Protocol, the COP-MOP has adopted a decision regarding the modalities of operation of the BCH – i.e. how it will work.

To fully participate in the BCH, governments need to establish lines of communication and information exchange to ensure that information is made available through the BCH in a timely and appropriate fashion. To assist Parties in doing so, some basic principles of the operation of the BCH, as established by the COP-MOP, are set out briefly here.

The development of the BCH is to be guided by the principles of inclusiveness, transparency and equity, and is to be open to all governments.

A Party must nominate a National Focal Point for the BCH (BCH-NFP) whose responsibilities include:

  • Clearance for publishing information registered in the BCH, including the validation of national records created by authorized users prior to publication.
  • Liaison with the Secretariat regarding technical aspects of national participation in the BCH.
  • Liaison with the Secretariat regarding issues of relevance to the development and implementation of the BCH.

Given the central role of the BCH in the operation of the Protocol, the availability, accuracy and accessibility of relevant information through the BCH is crucial.

This means that the role of the BCH National Focal Point is to ensure the quality, accuracy and completeness of the information related to their country that is being made available through the BCH. To assist in this process, most countries will put in place local management procedures to ensure that information providers have verified that their information is correct and complete before it is provided to the BCH focal point.

All BCH focal points can subscribe to receive automatic e-mail notifications with updates on new information that has been added to the BCH. 

In some instances, BCH-NFPs may wish to delegate some or all the responsibilities for submitting information in the BCH to National Authorized Users (NAUs). NAUs can create and manage draft records in designated categories of national information (depending on their assigned role). However, all new records created by NAUs, as well as any modifications that they make to existing records, are subject to validation by the BCH-NFP who is the only user who is authorized to publish National Records

The BCH contains information that must be provided by Parties to the Protocol, such as decisions on release or importation of LMOs, risk assessments, competent national authorities and national laws. However, Governments that are not Parties to the Protocol are also encouraged to contribute information to the BCH. In fact, a large number of the decisions currently in the BCH have been registered by non-Parties. The information registered in the BCH is freely available to both Parties and non-Parties in order to assist them in achieving the objectives of the Protocol. Non-Parties are eligible for BCH user accounts with the same registration privileges as Parties. They should also advise the Secretariat of their BCH National Focal Points. 

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