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133 Civil Society Groups demand Right to Participation in upcoming Plastic Treaty Meetings

133 Civil Society Groups demand Right to Participation in upcoming Plastic Treaty Meetings

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133 civil society organizations worldwide, including HEJSupport, called on the leadership of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) working on a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, to provide greater transparency and access to civil society organizations and rightsholder ahead of the upcoming Ad-hoc Intersessional Open-ended Working Groups that will take meet in Bangkok, Thailand, in August 2024.

At the conclusion of the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, Member States agreed to hold two expert working groups to further the work between the INCs. While the work session is open for Member States, each working group can include up to twelve ‘experts’ that must be nominated and selected in advance. 

In a letter addressed to the INC Secretary, Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, the INC Chair, Ambassador Luis Vayas Valdivieso, and the members of the Bureau, the groups raised concerns about the restrictions on the participation of observers and the lack of transparency regarding the selection of the technical experts–who must be unequivocally free from conflicts of interest–who will be attending the upcoming meeting. Additionally, it calls for an open application process, allowing accredited observer organizations to register at least one representative. 

From the letter:

“We would like to emphasize that Intersessional Work is an integral part of the INC process and, by default, governed by the same rules of procedure. Rules 55 and 56 thus allow accredited non-governmental organizations to participate in any INC-related sessions as Observers. 

Furthermore, we are concerned with the lack of clarity regarding the selection of the technical experts. These technical experts must be unequivocally free from conflicts of interest, and we have not seen any procedures for addressing this in the intersessional meetings. The technical experts should be independent scientists, Indigenous Peoples, frontline and fenceline communities, consumer and health advocates, representatives of civil society organizations, and other experts without vested interests in the plastics value chain, including representatives from targeted communities who are under direct pressure from rapidly declining ambitions that threaten to nullify the UNEA mandate. Many existing bodies, including the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), would be good models for addressing this. Therefore, we request clarification on the process for the selection of the technical experts. 

Moreover, in the case of most developing countries, there are fewer government delegates (often 1-2) and experienced observers from the same countries could serve a complementary role to their respective country delegations during the negotiations. 

We express our deepest concern about the lack of clarity on Observers’ participation procedures in the Intersessional process, including the meetings in Thailand. We are mindful of the space and logistical constraints of the venue; however, we request you consider an open application process that would allow accredited Observer organizations to register at least one representative for an in-person meeting without the need for a letter of support from their governments. Considering the significant resources required for in-person attendance, coupled with the inherent limitations faced by civil society and rights holders observers, we strongly urge the exploration of a hybrid solution incorporating live webcasts of sessions to enhance observer participation. For accredited Observer organizations, registration for online sessions should be open and not limited to one representative per organization.”

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Written by Alexandra Caterbow

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