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AHTEG on Socio-economic considerations: online discussion

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Opening of discussion on revised text [#7934]
POSTED ON BEHALF OF THE CO-CHAIRS:

Dear Participants!

Thank you very much again for your contributions and the discussions during the first round of our “virtual” AHTEG meeting. Thank you also for generally approving the chosen approach and the proposed structure of the document.

After some internal consultations, the co-chairs have prepared, based on your proposals and the issues raised in the discussion, a second draft of the revised framework for conceptual clarity.

We have taken those proposals into account, which were supported by at least some members of the AHTEG, and which were not contradicting already agreed text. We also tried to adapt some proposals in order to improve clarity and to use a consistent wording in document.

Some of the proposals which we did not take up, e.g. the reference to the CBD, which is important but might not fit well in the otherwise quite concise framework, could be reflected in the conclusions of the online discussion, which will be discussed at a later stage, and will be submitted to COP/MOP.

We intensely discussed the proposal to make a specific reference to the precautionary principle (point 7 of the general aspects). We kindly ask you to remember that we already discussed this issue and the wording used at the first AHTEG meeting and also at COP/MOP7 where Parties did not support introducing a direct reference to the precautionary principle. The wording we propose in the revised document reflects the important compromise we have achieved in the discussion so far, and we believe that changing the wording too much might jeopardize the acknowledgement of the document by COP/MOP as such.

You’ll realize that one term appears between square brackets in point 11 of the general aspects, as there was support for both versions and no clear agreement. We welcome your opinion on the wording which should be used.

During the second round we ask you to provide concrete proposals for amendments to the text, but would also appreciate it very much if you let us and the other members of the AHTEG know, if you agree with proposed changes, if you have alternative proposals or if you agree with the revised text as presented.

We also plan to open the discussion at a later stage on conclusions for the COP/MOP8. A document as basis for this discussion will be presented in due time.

We are looking forward to a fruitful discussion and hope for your active participation.

Best regards,

Ranjini Warrier and Andreas Heissenberger
posted on 2016-05-30 14:00 UTC by Ms. Paola Scarone, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7935]
Dear colleagues, dear AHTEG members!
With some concern I noticed that almost three days after opening the discussion on the revised text of the framework for conceptual clarity, which was made available on Monday, there is not one single comment posted to the forum.

Although I recognioze that you are all busy and propably tied up with other obligations, I kndly urge you to provide your feedback, as we depend on your opinions, if we want to submit a document to the COP/MOP.

Looking forward to your inputs.

Kind regards
Andreas
posted on 2016-06-02 06:54 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7936]
Dear Ranjini and Andreas, dear all,

First, I would like to thank the co-chairs for the revised text for Conceptual Clarity on SEC and moderation of the current discussion session.

With regard to the proposed text I have the folloving comments:

1. Introduction. The last par." 'impacts' and 'effects' are referred to in a neutral way, mening they can be positive or negative." - I do not consider that we should involve an assessment of 'positive'impacts or effects, as the Art. 26 of the Protocol has clearly stated that may take into account socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of LMOs on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities. In my understanding, such SEC assessment should be focused to assess just negative effects as to be taken into consideration during decision making process and respect the "precautionary principle".
2. p.8. sould be read in the following reduction: "..., if new or additional scientific evidence is available."
3. p.11. I am of opinion tha it is relevant to keep word "shoud" as it is referred to the process of public partisipation and consultation.

Best wishes,
Angela
posted on 2016-06-02 09:16 UTC by Ms. Angela Lozan, Republic of Moldova
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7948]
I have been out of the country and contact, hence only responding now (and hence apologies for returning to earlier messages).

With respect to posting #7936 by Angela, I have a differing view. South African regulators consider both positive and negative impacts of LMOs, particularly with respect to social-economics. This is because -in part- there are different elements of society that may be differently affected (eg some communities may be positively impacted, others negatively, from the same LMO), and our decision must be for the good of the country as a whole. By considering only negative effects, a country may be avoiding an outcome that on balance is positive for the country. I would request that we retain both positive and negative impacts in the text, to allow for different countries approaches.

Thanks!
Ben Durham
posted on 2016-06-06 11:43 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7949]
Hi Ben,

thank you for your comments and it is nice to know the experience of South Africa in considering SEC in the decision making. I agree with you and it should be an balanced approach vile the country's decision is taken to consider both as positive as negative impact, according their domestic legislation. At the same time my understanding is that within the Cartagena Protocol we should focus our concerns to the possible negative issues in order to ensure safe use of LMOs. This is what is expected by countries to assist them in guiding to taking into consideration the socio-economic aspects (concerns) and developing their local legal procedures in this regard. As well countries on their own initiative may include the positive aspects in their the domestic regulatory system on a volunaty base. 

Thanks!
Angela
posted on 2016-06-06 14:00 UTC by Ms. Angela Lozan, Republic of Moldova
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7950]
Thanks, Angela

To the extent that SECs should only be done if there are negative biodiversity impacts BUT should allow for both positive and negative SE results, I would agree. (Ie. If there are positive biodiversity impacts, then the need for SECs may be considered unnecessary.)

I would hope, as SA and Canada currently do, and I would hope all countries do as well, that there would not be a deliberate release of an LMO which is considered likely to have negative biodiversity impacts (as qualified earlier), and this thus makes the SECs moot.

However, the wording as it currently stands does not differentiate between +ve or -ve biodiversity or +ve or -ve SE impacts. This would have to be clarified before I could agree. We do not want to paint a negative picture of LMOs when there is so much evidence of positive SE impacts of LMOs.

Ben Durham
posted on 2016-06-06 15:12 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7937]
Dear all,

I would like to thank the co-chairs for their time and efforts to provide us with revised text concerning Conceptual Clarity on Socio-Economic Considerations.

I agree with this version of the text.
And, I prefer to use a verb “should” in Para 11 …

Best regards,
Elena
posted on 2016-06-02 12:31 UTC by Assoc. Prof. Elena Makeyeva, Belarus
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7938]
Dear All:

In relation to point eleven of the general aspects, I suggest to use the word "may" with the intention to remain consistent with the spirit of the text of Article 26.

Best regards
posted on 2016-06-02 16:07 UTC by Dr. Carlos Alberto Almendares Ordonez, Honduras
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7946]
Dear co-chairs and fellow AHTEG members,
I would like to express my appreciation for the co-chairs’ effort in producing a revised text that attempts to incorporate the comments and suggestions from our recent on-line discussion.  This is a real challenge, given that significant differences in view remain regarding fundamental issues.  The revised text clearly reflects their sensitivity to the differences among us, some keen drafting sills, and their commitment to produce a useful framework document. 
As the recent on-line exchanges indicate, there is not agreement among AHTEG members on what socio-economic considerations in the context of Article 26 means, i.e., the issue of scope.  It is problematic, and a bit ironic, that a group charged with ‘developing conceptual clarity on socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity’, is not able to reach consensus on this most basic question.  At the face-to-face meeting we opted not to draft a definition, in favor of a more descriptive approach.  That approach was useful in identifying a number of useful points and ideas that would be relevant for eventual guidelines, even if it did not really allow us to fulfill our mandate. 
However, now that the co-chairs’ text includes an Operational Definition, it is not possible for us to gloss over the differences of view with regard to scope.  I believe that it would be a grave disservice to the Parties to provide an Operational Definition that is vague enough that it could mean many different things, perhaps even opposite things.  The Operational Definition, at a minimum, needs to reflect the language in Article 26 regarding the link to impacts on conservation and sustainable use, and on decision on imports. Restating this language may not increase Parties’ conceptual clarity, but at least it does not mistakenly imply that there was a consensus view on an interpretation of Article 26.  In addition, the Operational Definition should be limited to socio-economic effects (those related to economic activity and social organization and norms).  I do not believe that health or ecological aspects per se are socio-economic.  Certainly there is a relationship between socio-economic factors and health and ecology, but Article 26 deals only with SECs.
The relationship between risk assessment and SECs was extensively discussed in our meeting in Korea and in subsequent exchanges, but here as well there is divergence of views among AHTEG members.  I believe it is very important to be clear about the mandatory nature of the risk assessment and the optional nature of SECs. 
I have considerable concerns about the new language in point 12.  First, it is not clear to me what it is supposed to mean or what question it is supposed to address.  Perhaps the co-chairs could explain what they were trying to get at with this point.  Second, it could be read as saying something different from what Article 26 says as to when Parties may take SECs into account.  I propose deleting this language, subject to better understanding of what is meant and a formulation that is not potentially in conflict with the language of Article 26. 
In the alternative proposals that I am submitting, I have tried to limit my suggestions as much as possible.  I think that Caspar’s suggestion of ‘influence’ instead of ‘support’ in point 2 is acceptable.  In point 11, I lean away from the use of ‘may’ but understand the discomfort with ‘should’ which sounds a bit prescriptive.  We might instead use ‘could’ here. 
Best regards, 

Mary Lisa
posted on 2016-06-06 05:54 UTC by Ms. Mary Lisa Madell, United States of America
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7953]
Dear Participants!
First of all I need to thank you again for your valuable contributions and the comments to the revised text.

At this stage I would like to make some observations regarding the discussion:
• We had a great majority among the participants agreeing with the proposed text, some with minor changes.
• We will take up the suggestions made by Angela regarding point 8 and those made by Casper regarding point 2.
• As there was strong wish expressed by several Parties during the commenting phase (and also during the COP/MOP discussions) to do so, we suggest to keep “positive and negative” in the second bullet point in the introduction.
• We will reflect the intervention regarding the relationship with the CBD in the conclusion, which will be provided soon.
• Regarding point 11 we suggest alternative wording: “Article 23 of the Protocol creates obligations regarding public awareness and participation. Public participation and consultation, and access to information, may form part of the process of taking socio-economic considerations into account.”

I hope you agree to the proposals above and I’m looking forward to your contributions.

Best regards
Andreas
posted on 2016-06-09 05:27 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7955]
Dear Andreas
Let me first express my sincere thanks for your dedication and effort. I do agree with most of what you are proposing in [#7953]. 

However, I still have concerns with regards to points 1-4 raised in my previous intervention [#7939]. I think they received some support and hope they can be reflected appropriately in the text of the framework. A bracketed text for further discussion could be a way forward. I believe that the framework should represent all the discussion we had.

Thanks again,
O.A.El-Kawy
posted on 2016-06-09 08:13 UTC by Mr. Ossama AbdelKawy, Mauritania
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7939]
Dear Andreas/ Ranjini

Many thanks for the revised document. However, I still believe that it is missing a lot of important concepts that was presented in the previous rounds of discussion. Many suggestion were proposed by several AHTEG members that would greatly improve the conceptual clarity yet they were left out.

I would not recommend the current form as it stands right now to be sent to the COP-MOP and believe that it is counterproductive.

I would recommend the following for the aim of improving the text:

1.  Introducing a new section at the very beginning of the framework to be called preface and establish the relationship with the mother convention when it comes to socioeconomics. Without this the framework is misleading and in fact it interprets article 26 of the protocol in a way that contradicts the aim and objectives of the CBD. While many of the socioeconomic considerations are mandatory under the CBD, the language of the article 26 is just a way to establishes and justifies the right of a Party to take socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into account in decision-making on import of living modified organisms.

2. The section named general aspects is very misleading as well it implies that no obligation at all for socioeconomic considerations under the protocol which contradict the CBD. The CPB, as any other protocol, is related to its parent treaty, the CBD, through substantive, procedural, and institutional links; accordingly, it must comply with the Convention’s provisions when implemented. Moreover, Parties to the Protocol have to also be Parties to the CBD (Article 32 of the CBD). Thus, the CPB cannot be read separately from the CBD, but in conjunction with each other since the Protocol implements the Convention. I propose the following amendment to be in line with the CBD
“Article 26 of the protocol establishes and justifies the right of a Party to take socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into account in decision-making on import of living modified organisms.”

3. I also think that this concept of positive consideration is out of the scope and objective of the Cartagena protocol as already mentioned by Angela in this discussion and by several others in many of the discussion rounds we had. The protocol aims to protect the environment from possible negative effect of the LMOs and product thereof and is not aiming to conduct risk- benefit analysis. This is very clear from the language of the protocol objective. “ In accordance with the precautionary approach contained in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the objective of this Protocol is to contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health, and specifically focusing on transboundary movements.”

4. The language in point 4 is also very misleading; it could be interpreted as subordinating the Cartagena Protocol to other international agreements while in fact they should be mutually supportive with a view to achieving sustainable development. I believe that this should be clearly mentioned in the framework. In addition it should be highlighted that “Most trade related agreements establish an ultimate and crosscutting objective of remarkable socio-economic nature: Human wellbeing. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) under the WTO umbrella do not prevent the application of socio-economic considerations to justify a measure; on the contrary, they are valid so long as they are formulated with the appropriate justifications, defendable under available information, consistent with national regulations and do not lead to arbitrary or unjustifiable distinctions.”

5. The framework do not provide guidance in the case of absence of information and it needs a clear linkage with the precautionary approach

6. With regards to point 11 I would propose the following text to solve this issue of should/may “While public awareness and participation is mandatory under article 23 of the Protocol. Public participation and consultation, and access to information, may form part of the process of taking socio-economic considerations into account.

Best Regards,
O.A.El-Kawy
posted on 2016-06-02 17:07 UTC by Mr. Ossama AbdelKawy, Mauritania
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7940]
Dear Co-chairs,
I would like to thank the co-chairs for effort i producing this revised draft  on Conceptual Clarity on Socio-Economic Considerations.
I found the draft acceptable to us and can be submitted to COP-MOP.
On para 11 we prefer a 'may'
Thank you
Letchumanan
posted on 2016-06-03 03:40 UTC by Mr. Ramatha Letchumanan, Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7941]
Dear co-chairs, dear colleagues, I sympathize deeply with Ossamas points of view (#7939). However, to me, the revised chair's draft is acceptable. It is up to the Parties to discuss this further in December. Views like Ossama's may gain substantial support and provide the AHTEG with new imputs and signals at COPMOP, but we have to wait and see. At this stage, I think the co-chair's revised text strikes a fair balance between different views already presented by group members.

We have to respect and accept that article 26.1 is a "may"-provision. I agree that the CBD may have another angle on this. Nevertheless, it is the article under the protocol that is the primary point of departure for the work of the AHTEG. I totally agree that the Cartagena Protocol should not be subordinated other international agreements, but we cannot escape the wording of article 26.1. When it comes to the precautionary principle, I favor that this is restricted to environmental and health issues. That being said, of course, the socio-economic dimension is an integral part of sustainable development and very important. That is why article 26 matters so much.

It is our obligation to present something to the COPMOP that is an acceptable product from the ENTIRE AHTEG. This means that the document to some of us may appear watered down and too weak. However, I do not want to be sent back to square one or the process to stop. Obviously, our very competent co-Chairs had this in mind when they revised the text.

Lastly, two minor suggestions/views:

In para 2, in order to keep the text neutral, wouldn't it be better to say "influence" instead of "support"? The various factors may have both positive and negative effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Another alternative is to replace "support" with "support or impede".

In para 11, I think the most appropriate wording is "may", with reference to the voluntary nature of Article 26.1.

Best wishes,
Casper.
posted on 2016-06-03 11:42 UTC by Mr. Casper Linnestad, Norway
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7942]
Dear all,

I think that the revised draft is in a suitable shape to be submitted to the COP/MOP, and that it adequately addressed the various, and some tiles contradictory, points of views expressed in our previous discussions

As for the « may/should » of point 11, I am for the use of « should » since the « soft language » to be used in agreement with the voluntary nature of article 26 of PCB, as I understand it, concerns the interactions between different Parties. However, in the case of point 11, it is about the decision-making regarding the liberalisation/importation of a GMO within a given Party/country, and all the groups of interest should be informed prior to any decision in this regard. Indeed, there are many international agreements including the CPB that make it obligatory for governments and stakeholders to inform interested parties in the country before taking such decisions (please see comment #7846 of Dr. Li Ching Lim in our previous discussion)    

Thanks
posted on 2016-06-03 13:01 UTC by Mr. Noreddine Benkerroum, Morocco
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7945]
Dear colleagues and AHTEG members
Let me also join others to congratulate the co-chairs for the revised text on conceptual clarity. I believe the text reflects key issues agreed in our discussions.

However, with respect to par 11, I agree with Casper [# 7941] that owing to the voluntary nature of Article 26, “may” is the appropriate word to use.  Although public awareness and participation is mandatory under Article 23, the context in Article 26 is different; it is voluntary. I therefore propose that  “may” should be retained and “should” and the bracket deleted, so as to have a clean text submitted to COP-MOP.

Regards,
Johansen T.Voker
posted on 2016-06-05 22:31 UTC by Mr. Johansen T. Voker, Liberia
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7956]
Dear colleagues and AHTEG members,

First, I would like to thank you all (and especially the two chairmen) for your contributions and discussions.

The revised text reflects well, in my opinion, the different stakes and issues we have to deal with.

As some of you mentioned, some points need further discussions, but I am quite sensible to Casper argument  [#7941] about the necessity to keep the process going.

I am thus in favor of integrating elements mentionned by Andreas in [#7953] and transmitting the document to COP-MOP.

Best reagrds,

Martin
posted on 2016-06-09 13:51 UTC by Dr. Martin Rémondet, France
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7943]
POSTED ON BEHALF OF LEONARDO GONZALES:

Dear Co Chairs of the Forum,

Let me express may sincere thanks to both of you for your splendid efforts in coming up with a revised version of the AHTEG document for conceptual clarity. I think the present revised version reflects most of the issues raised during the past and present online discussions.

I find the revised draft highly acceptable and recommend its submission to the COP-MOP.

More power to you and best regards!

Leonardo
posted on 2016-06-03 20:18 UTC by Ms. Paola Scarone, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7944]
Dear Co-Chairs, dear All,

I am sharing mainly the concerns given by Ossama in his post [#7939], at the same time I think we have to go on with an agreed document and submit it to the next COP/MOP. A kind of compromise may be reached now and at a later stage we can discuss the topic more detailed. I am supporting the view expressed by Casper  [#7941] for not to stop the process to present the document for discussion in December, and I think we may remain agreed with a compromise formula for p.11: " may/should" by now.

I am also of the opinion that we should not see the Cartagena Protocol inferior to other agreements, as it has specific focus to precautionary and safe use of LMOs.

Best regards,
Angela
posted on 2016-06-05 09:05 UTC by Ms. Angela Lozan, Republic of Moldova
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7947]
Dear colleagues

I think the revised text is a definite improvement on the earlier version - thanks to the co-chairs for this.  However, the operational definition is still not, in my opinion, sufficiently clear.

In order to try improve clarity I would like to propose a slight edit that aims to better define SECs, but without introducing new concepts:

Operational definition
In the context of article 26 of the Cartagena Protocol, socio-economic considerations cover the possible economic and social impacts, including cultural, traditional, religious and ethical elements, on society or components thereof, arising from where the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity is affected by the introduction and use of LMOs.

I would then suggest that the two further points in the original revised text be put as bullets under General Aspects:

*Considerations should include the particular national or regional circumstances and national measures of implementation. (This is already covered under point 5, and I would suggest is therefore redundant)

*Considerations may include the socio-economic elements of health and ecology, if not already covered by risk assessment procedures under Article 15 of the Protocol.

With respect to bullet 2 of General aspects, I fail to understand the purpose of this point.  Rather 26.1 is seeking to offer for considerations how conservation & sustainable use influences socio-economics.

I think point 12 needs to be further clarified, but support the principle of it.

Regards
Ben Durham
posted on 2016-06-06 09:00 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7952]
Dear Ben!
Thank you very much for your comments and suggestions. However we are a little confused as we, in preparing the new operational definition, used wording which is quite similar to a text you proposed during the first round, and which got great support from others members of the group now. Therefore we are quite hesitant in rephrasing and shifting some of the important points.

We are aware that there is some redundancy, but that is due to the comments made by Parties, and the strong wish that some points need to expressed very clearly at the different sections of the document.

Finally point 12, which was also based on a suggestion made in one of your interventions during the round. We however took the freedom of rephrasing it in order to better fit it in to the general aspects. If you feel that the proposed text is confusing and unclear, we suggest deleting point 12.

Best regards
Andreas
posted on 2016-06-09 05:26 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: Opening of discussion on revised text [#7957]
Dear all

Thank you to the co-chairs for the revised text. I have been following the discussions and would like to share my point of view on some of the issues raised.

I think we have, in trying to stress the voluntary nature of Article 26, lost some balance in the language: “This framework and related guidance does not imply an obligation on Parties to make use of socio-economic considerations when reaching a decision on import of LMOs” and “Although Article 26 of the Protocol does not impose an obligation on Parties to take into account socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, if a Party does choose to take such considerations into account then there are certain aspects of an assessment of socio-economic effects which should be considered.”

Firstly, while it is true that no obligation is imposed, rights are clearly established by Article 26. It is up to Parties to exercise this right. If we only mention that there is no obligation on Parties to take socioeconomic considerations into account, then not only is our exercise as the AHTEG possibly made redundant, we may fail to provide adequate guidance to those Parties who wish to take socioeconomic considerations into account. I urge a restoration of balance by mentioning the right to take socioeconomic considerations into account and then explaining the voluntary nature in that Parties can choose to do so.

At the very least one could say: 1) “This framework and related guidance does not imply an obligation on Parties… . Nonetheless, Parties have the right to make use of socio-economic considerations….”; and 2) Although Article 26 of the Protocol does not impose an obligation on Parties to take into account socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, Parties have a right to do so. If a Party chooses to take such considerations into account then there are certain aspects of an assessment of socio-economic effects which should be considered.”

Secondly, confining the decision to a “decision on import”, I believe, counters Article 26, where “Parties may take socio-economic considerations into account in two instances: when “reaching a decision on import” of LMOs; and under its domestic measures implementing the Protocol.” (p. 164 of An Explanatory Guide to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety). We need to be careful about not narrowing the interpretation of Article 26, which was left intentionally broad by the drafters of the Protocol (for example, if they had wanted to confine decisions to a decision on import only, a comma would have been inserted after that phrase).

To be legally accurate, one could simply use the language of Article 26: “decision on import under this Protocol or under its domestic measures implementing the Protocol”, wherever the phrase “decision on import” or “decision-making on import” currently occurs (in the Introduction, point #1, point #8). Or alternatively, to just use the phrase “decision-making on living modified organisms” as appears in other paragraphs.

I’m a little confused by the discussion on point #11. Public participation and consultation, and access to information, are clear obligations under Article 23. The voluntary nature of Article 26 is not being questioned if we reaffirm the obligations under Article 23, because the framework we are discussing applies to those Parties that choose to take into account socioeconomic considerations. Just because Article 26 is voluntary, this should does not mean that Article 23 becomes voluntary for those Parties choosing to take into account socioeconomic considerations. If we say “Public participation and consultation, and access to information, may form part of the process of taking socio-economic considerations into account” this contradicts Article 23, which says that “The Parties shall… Promote and facilitate public awareness, education and participation…” and the “The Parties shall, in accordance with their respective laws and regulations, consult the public in the decision-making process …”. There is no exception for socioeconomic considerations in Article 23.

Kind regards
Lim Li Ching
Third World Network
posted on 2016-06-10 10:11 UTC by Ms. Li Ching Lim, Third World Network