What is FCTC COP?

What is FCTC COP? (part 5)


Participants at COP meetings

  • Parties: each Party determines the composition of its delegation to COP sessions.
  • States Non-Party: Parties that have not ratified or acceded to the FCTC enjoy Observer Status, i.e. they can participate in the sessions and make statements but do not enjoy voting rights.
  • Observer IGOs and NGOs:
    As per Rule 30.1 of the Rules of Procedure, any international intergovernmental organisation (IGO) may apply to the Secretariat for observer status
    As per Rule 31.2 of the Rules of Procedure, international and regional nongovernmental organisations (NGO) whose aims and activities are in conformity with the spirit, purpose and principles of the Convention may apply to the Secretariat for observer status which may be granted by the Conference of the Parties.
    Such applications should be submitted to the Secretariat not later than 90 days before the opening of the session, according to the Rules of Procedure.

    However, NGOs representing consumers or harm reduction advocates have never yet been accepted as observers to COP, following negative recommendations from the COP Bureau and the FCTC Secretariat.  This is contrary to the spirit of open participation of civil society organisations in international treaties, as can be seen in with the energy industry in the lead up to COP26 of the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • Public and media
    In theory the public and media can attend COP as observers from the public gallery.  However, access for the public and media has been heavily restricted since COP4 in Uruguay and it is usual for the public gallery to be closed at the start.  

Links with lists of delegations at previous COP meetings

COP1 – COP7: https://www.who.int/fctc/cop/sessions/en/
COP8:  https://fctc.who.int/publications/m/item/fctc-cop-8-div-1-list-of-participants

What position do delegates take? How is a position agreed?

Parties to the FCTC may fully participate through its official delegation. Parties are sovereign to decide the composition of their delegations, reflecting the necessary expertise and competence to discuss the technical, institutional, and budgetary matters presented at COP.

As per the Rules of Procedure, the provisional agenda of the COP session as well as all relevant documents on each agenda item, including reports with recommendations on the action to be taken by the COP (e.g. to note the reports, to provide further guidance, to discuss/adopt draft decisions, etc.) must be circulated to all Parties and published on the official website of the COP session.

Each Party is expected to examine the documentation and to define their individual country positions. The exception is the EU, which has to reach a Common Position reflecting the views of all their Member States.

However, it is important to note that in addition to the topics presented 60 days in advance to the COP session, a Party or a group of Parties can present new agenda items and proposals, to COP or they can propose them from the floor during the session. According to the Rules of Procedure, these proposals need to be circulated with the Secretariat 15 days in advance of the meeting, and the Secretariat must circulate the respective proposal to all Parties at least 3 days in advance, in the six official languages of the UN (English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic).

While Parties are invited to provide individual opinions throughout the negotiations, the six WHO Regional Offices, in cooperation with the FCTC secretariat, usually organise so called “Pre-COP Meetings” one or two months before COP to try to reach agreement with Parties and come to regional positions to expedite the negotiations. These are not formal meetings of the FCTC/COP and parties are not required to commit to a regional position if their position differs. If one or more Parties disagree with the Regional group’s views, the Regional group should not speak on behalf of the Region, but rather speak for themselves during the sessions.

Before and during a COP session, Parties might also seek support from other Parties for their positions and proposals. As in other international and multilateral negotiations, it is common for Parties to reach out bilaterally to other Parties to assess points of common interest and to seek “sponsoring” (support) for their proposal.

During the COP, and before each day of discussion and/or at the end of the day, the Parties also have informal meetings to discuss the agenda items at discussion during the day or to debrief on the debate, open agenda items, and or deliberations made.