|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on Annual United Nations Treaty Event, Convention on Biodiversity
The Chief of the Treaty Section in the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs,Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, and the Liaison Officer for the international Convention on Biodiversity, Nandhini Krishna, expressed hope for increased participation at both the upcoming Annual Treaty Event and Biodiversity Summit, at a Headquarters press conference today.
According to Ms. Goettsche-Wanli, this year’s treaty event, to be held on 21-23 and 27-28 September, marked the event’s tenth anniversary. The event was originally launched in 2000 by then Secretary-General Kofi Annan as an awareness-raising measure to promote and strengthen international commitment to the rule of law, she said.
This year’s event, entitled “Towards Universal Participation and Implementation”, would highlight 43 multilateral treaties and provide Member States with the opportunity to sign, ratify or accede to multilateral treaties addressing issues such as human rights, disarmament, protection of the environment, biodiversity, terrorism, climate change, and the protection of United Nations staff and associated personnel.
States would also have the possibility to deposit declarations recognizing as compulsory the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. At ceremonies held during the event, dignitaries would sign the treaties or deposit instruments of ratification to them, also providing opportunities for press coverage, she added. More than 500 treaties deposited with the Secretary-General would be open for ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.
The Convention on Biological Diversity, nearing universal ratification with 193 parties, had grown out of the recommendation that biodiversity resources were vital for economic and social development, explained Ms. Krishna. With 2010 as the General Assembly’s proclaimed Year of Biodiversity, she hoped to see the number of the Convention’s supporters swell during the treaty event. And, on 22 September would be the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on biodiversity.
One important issue currently up for discussion was the possible movement of modified living organisms across borders and the need to address what might occur in such an eventuality, she said. Another area of concern, on which the treaty focuses, was desertification, which was of concern to every region in the world. This year marked the launch of the International Decade to Combat Desertification, in light of the urgency of that effort.
When asked about the physical location of the treaty documents, given the administrative relocation resulting from the Capital Master Plan, Ms. Goettsche-Wanli remarked that they were being securely kept in the offices at Madison Avenue and would be brought to the General Assembly Hall for the event.
Responding to a question regarding the coming into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Ms. Goettsche-Wanli said that only one additional ratifying party was required for the Convention to enter into force. “It would, obviously, be nice to have it enter into force,” she added.
Asked what the relationship was between the text of the treaties, the Office of Legal Affairs, and “actual compliance”, Ms. Goettsche-Wanli stressed that the role of the United Nations family of organizations in implementing multilateral treaties was partly determined by the State parties themselves, as it was their prerogative to provide the United Nations Secretariat with such a mandate, if the States parties felt it should do so. The United Nations could not assume that role for itself, she said.
To a question about the expectations for the Biodiversity Summit, Ms. Krishna said the aim was to draw public attention to pressing issues. As biological diversity losses increased, urgent action was needed to avert a series of irreversible tipping points.
In a recent study of elementary school students, she said, children had been able to identify corporate logos with ease, but not the insects and animals present in their own local environment. “Our goal is to raise awareness”, Ms. Krishna said, “the action will follow.”
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For information media • not an official record