Internal dissent at CoP meeting

| November 15, 2016

Parties to the World Tobacco Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) now possess the outline of a path toward faster implementation at country level of the lifesaving measures in the FCTC, despite mixed results from six days of negotiations, according to the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA).

The seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the WHO’s FCTC was held in India on November 7-12. According to the FCA, it brought together 180 parties to the FCTC representing nearly 90 percent of the world’s people.

The FCA describes itself as ‘a civil society network of nearly 500 organisations in more than 100 countries whose mission is to strengthen the … FCTC and support its full and accelerated implementation worldwide’.

In a press note, the FCA said that on November 11 the parties adopted a decision ‘to develop a strategic framework for the FCTC that includes finding ways to attract more resources for the treaty and revising the crucial task of reviewing parties’ progress in order to meet their technical assistance and resource needs’.

‘An expert group had recommended creating an “implementation review committee” to identify obstacles parties face when trying to put FCTC measures in place, and then to suggest ways to overcome such barriers,’ the note said. ‘These obstacles can include lack of political will, technical assistance and money, as well as interference from the tobacco industry.’

“Although the CoP did not adopt a recommended implementation review committee, the proposal that was accepted has the potential to produce a strategy that will generate more support, more broadly for FCTC implementation,” said FCA executive director Francis Thompson.

“Once the CoP has agreement on its overall strategy, it will be easier to organise CoP discussions, to meet parties’ top technical assistance needs, and to meet the ambitious target of a 30-percent reduction in the rate of tobacco use agreed to at CoP6.”

The press note went on to say that FCTC measures had been identified by the WHO as “best buys” in fighting the killer group of diseases known as NCDs, which included cancers cardiovascular and lung disease, and diabetes. NCDs caused nearly two thirds of global deaths today, and it was estimated that they would cost the world economy US$30 trillion by 2031.

‘In 2015, member states of the United Nations included the need for accelerated implementation of the Convention in the world’s updated blueprint to development, the Sustainable Development Goals,’ the note said. ‘At CoP7 the UK announced almost US$18 million in development funding to FCTC implementation, a sign that the international community is beginning to understand the treaty’s significance in tackling NCDs.

‘CoP7 also made progress on the issues of tobacco and human rights, and the health of tobacco farmers, and agreed to change the name of parties’ payments to the convention to Assessed Contributions rather than Voluntary Assessed Contributions, in a bid for more predictable funding.

‘However, parties failed to agree measures to fight growing interference from the tobacco industry. That interference appeared to be on display in the proceedings of CoP7 itself, which were repeatedly stalled by parties that attempted to water down previous CoP decisions and even questioned the principles of the treaty itself.

‘Differences over how to address industry interference also prevented adoption of a strong decision on the FCTC’s protocol on fighting illicit trade, or ITP, which is expected to come into force before the next CoP session, scheduled for 2018, in Geneva.

‘Notably, a report on the outcomes of CoP7 will be presented to the World Health Assembly (the governing body of the WHO) in May 2017, for the first time in FCTC history. This is to strengthen synergies between the two bodies.’

Category: Breaking News

Comments are closed.