Subject: RE: Request for Additional Information - pops.int Application
Dear Mr. Touton,
Thanks for the providing us with the request for additional information from the Reconsideration Committee regarding the application of the Stockholm Convention secretariat for the top-level domain address of www.pops.int. Your questions and our responses to them follow:
a.i. How many nations have now signed the Convention?
As of 29 April 2002, 128 Governments (127 countries and the European Community) have signed the Stockholm Convention. 12 other countries have indicated that they had received necessary national approvals to sign. We expect a minimum of 140 signatories to the Convention by 22 May 2002, the date when the signature period ends.
a.ii. How many nations have deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession?
As of 29 April 2002, 6 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification. Another country, Liberia, submitted its instrument of accession, however, this cannot be officially received until 23 May 2002, the day following the closure of the signatory period. A number of countries have indicated that the will soon ratify the Convention.
a.iii. When is it anticipated that the Convention will enter into force?
The Convention will likely enter into force before December 2003.
a.iv. What concrete steps have been taken to commence operations in reliance on the Convention going into force?
First, countries have begun implementing the Convention on a voluntary basis as called for by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries that adopted it. 84 Governments have already designated national focal points as required under paragraph 3 of Article 9 and many have begun developing the national implementation plans as required under Article 7. The Global Environment Facility will fund the development of these plans in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Countries have also started work to identify and clean up unwanted stockpiles of persistent organic pollutants as called for under Article 6.
Second, countries are actively seeking guidance and assistance from the secretariat of the Stockholm Convention on how to sign and ratify the treaty and implement its provisions. The Stockholm Convention secretariat, in cooperation with the Global Environment Facility, is conducting regional and subregional workshops aimed at providing assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition in strengthening their national chemicals management programs with regard to their implementation and ratification of the Stockholm Convention and related instruments. More than 150 countries are expected to participate in these workshops.
Third, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) that developed the Convention will continue to meet during the interim period prior to entry into force to prepare for the first Conference of the Parties and oversee the implementation of other interim activities. Its next meeting will take place from 17 to 21 June 2002 in Geneva, Switzerland and over 140 Governments, 100 nongovernmental organizations and 10 international organizations are expected to take part. The INC is to focus its efforts during the interim on those activities required or encouraged by the Convention that will facilitate its rapid entry into force and effective implementation upon entry into force.
a.v. Assuming an .int name is granted now, what deadline does your organization feel would be appropriate for consideration of revoking the name in the event that the Convention has not entered into force before the deadline?
31 December 2006. There is almost no doubt that the Convention would enter into force long before this date.
b.i. Does the Interim Secretariat for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants take the position that it has (or will have upon entry into force) independent international legal personality?
Yes. Under international law, the Stockholm Convention is an independent international legal entity and the Convention itself and its secretariat enjoy independent legal personality. As with many global environmental treaties, the Stockholm Convention designates an international organization, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to perform these functions. These functions are legally and functionally distinct from UNEP and could be transferred to one or more other international organizations if so decided by the Conference of the Parties (see paragraph 3 of Article 20 of the Stockholm Convention). In similar arrangements, UNEP provides secretariat functions for other global environmental agreements including the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal which has been granted the top level domain name of www.basel.int and the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade which has been granted the top level domain name of www.pic.int. There is no significant substantive difference in the independent legal natures of the secretariats of these conventions and that of the Stockholm Convention. While UNEP provides some administrative infrastructure, the functions and budget of Stockholm Convention Secretariat and its governing body are legally distinct and functionally independent from UNEP.
b.ii. Does/will the Interim Secretariat for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants have the ability to enter legally binding contracts in its own name?
Yes. The secretariat will have the ability to enter into legally binding agreements, contracts and memoranda of understanding, mainly those requested by the Conference of the Parties. This will include memoranda of understanding with other convention secretariats.
b.iii. Does/will the Interim Secretariat for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants have the ability to sue and be sued in its name in the courts?
Yes. The secretariat will have the ability to sue or be sued for those obligations it would have contracted. It could also have standing in the International Court of Justice.
b.iv. Does/will the Interim Secretariat for the
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants have the ability
to employ staff in its own name?
This ends our response to your questions.
As mentioned before it is very important that the Stockholm Convention is granted the top level domain address of www.pops.int. It would serve as the official website for the Convention and would be easy for people to remember and find. Indeed, the status provided by the .int address will further encourage early ratification and implementation of the Convention by countries. This would benefit everyone who has a stake in this issue. That is everyone!
David Ogden, Coordinator
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