Chapter 3 The Operations of the Convention

Annex to Chapter 3

The conduct of meetings

Meetings of the Conference of the Parties are conducted following rules of procedure that have been decided on by the Conference of the Parties. Officers are elected from amongst the Parties to form the Bureau of the meeting, comprising a President, eight Vice-Presidents and a Rapporteur. The Bureau is geographically balanced with two representatives from each of the five UN regions (see below) and remains in office between meetings, its function at this time being to guide the Secretariat in preparations for and conduct of forthcoming meetings, and to officiate at extraordinary meetings.

When, as is normally the case, a meeting is hosted by a Party, rather than being held at the seat of the Secretariat in Montreal, a representative of that Party is traditionally elected President of the meeting. According to the rules of procedure, the offices of President and Rapporteur should normally rotate among the five regions. Between the second and sixth meetings of the Conference of the Parties, each region will have hosted one meeting.

The Bureau of SBSTTA is constituted in essentially the same way, although the officers are referred to as Chairman and Vice-Chairman. The roles of Chairman and Rapporteur of SBSTTA are also intended to rotate regionally.


Provision is made in the Rules of Procedure for Parties to vote on both procedural issues, such as the election of officers, and on substantive issues. However Rule 40, which sets out the procedure for voting on matters of substance, has not to date been agreed on by the Parties. The disagreement concerns the procedure for voting on matters concerning the financial mechanism (Article 21). Because Rule 40 has not yet been agreed, all decisions on matters of substance must currently be reached by consensus.

Regional coordination and representation

Much of the Convention's business is conducted on a regional basis. Most important are the five major divisions recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1972 in the resolution that established the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). These divisions constituted the regional groups that would make up the Governing Council of UNEP. They are currently referred to within the UN system as:

  • The African Group
  • The Asian Group
  • The Group of Countries with Economies in Transition (formerly Eastern European States)
  • The Group of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC)
  • The Western Europe and Others Group (WEOG)
For some purposes, the Western Europe and Others Group divides itself into the European Union (its fifteen member States) and the group known as JUSSCANNZ (Japan, the United States of America (a non-Party), Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Norway and New Zealand).

Two other groupings are also of importance. These are the Group of 77 and Small Island Developing States.

The Group of 77

The Group of 77 comprises the largest coalition of developing countries within the United Nations system. It was established in 1964 by seventy-seven developing countries at the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Its membership now comprises some 133 countries, but it has retained its original name. It serves as the principal means by which the developing world articulates and promotes its collective economic interests within the United Nations system. Under the Convention the group normally presents a single viewpoint on matters concerning financial resources and particularly advice to the financial mechanism. China, whilst not formally a member of the Group of 77, participates in the grouping which is then referred to as the `Group of 77 and China'.

Small Island Developing States

In 1994, as part of the implementation of Agenda 21, a Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was held in Barbados. The conference highlighted the economic and ecological vulnerabilities of such States and set out a programme of action to address sustainable development in them (the Barbados Programme of Action).

The special conditions of small island states are noted in the preamble to the Convention, and small island developing states are singled out in Article 20 on financial resources. The Conference of the Parties has also drawn attention to these in a number of its decisions, for example those concerning alien species and the programmes or work on inland water, forest and marine and coastal biological diversity.

The following list (Table 3.6) of countries and territories is that used by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to monitor the progress of the Barbados Programme of Action for the sustainable development of small island developing States.

Table 3.6 Small Island Developing States (Parties to the CBD in bold)

Antigua and Barbuda
Cape Verde
Cook Islands
Dominican Republic
Marshall Islands
Micronesia (Federated States of)
Netherlands Antilles1
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sao Tome and Principe
Solomon Islands
Trinidad and Tobago
US Virgin Islands4

1non-self governing dependency of the Netherlands, a Party;
2non-self governing dependency of the New Zealand, a Party;
3 non-Party;
4non-self governing dependency of the United States of America, a non-Party.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme