For an explanation of acronyms and terms please see our glossary here.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005. It has since become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history.
The objective of the FCTC is “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke”.
The treaty describes “tobacco control” as “a range of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating or reducing their consumption of tobacco products and exposure to tobacco smoke”.
The FCTC framework includes a range of tobacco control measures to reduce tobacco demand (Articles 6-14) and tobacco supply (Articles 15-17), concerning the production, sale, distribution, advertisement and taxation of tobacco products. Although harm reduction is recognised in the treaty as a tobacco control approach, thus far the COP has not provided any clarity or guidance on specific harm reduction strategies.
Link to download the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty: https://fctc.who.int/who-fctc/overview
Full list of signatories and date of ratification or accession to the FCTC: https://www.who.int/fctc/cop/en/
Out of the 193 Member States of the WHO that participated in the FCTC negotiation, 182 countries have either ratified or acceded to the convention, becoming “parties” to the WHO FCTC. The parties make up the Conference of the Parties (COP), which is the governing body of the WHO FCTC.
Note that some countries have signed the convention but not ratified (e.g. USA and Switzerland). This indicates that they participated in the negotiation of the FCTC and agree to its contents but have not taken the national legal step of constitutional ratification that is unique to every country.
Currently, there are 15 “non-party” states (countries that are Members of the UN and may have participated in its negotiation but did not sign the FCTC during its year-long open period, or who have only signed but not ratified the FCTC).
- Six have signed but not ratified (Argentina, Cuba, Haiti, Morocco, Switzerland, the United States). These countries have the option to ratify the FCTC.
- Nine have not signed (Andorra, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Monaco, Somalia). These countries cannot ratify the FCTC, but instead only have the option to accede to the FCTC.
Both signing and ratifying, or acceding, have the same legal effect and both routes result in the country becoming a Party.