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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Egypt Regrets the Absence of Negotiator Tewolde Egziabher

Delegates to the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts on Liability and Redress in the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met in Plenary throughout the day. In the morning, delegates heard opening remarks, addressed organizational issues and discussed a presentation on scientific analysis and risk assessment. In the afternoon, they discussed a presentation on State responsibility and international liability, and addressed scenarios, options, approaches and issues on liability and redress, for further consideration.

OPENING REMARKS AND ORGANIZATIONAL ISSUES

CBD Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan opened the meeting, noting that the preparatory meeting of the Technical Expert Group on liability and redress provided a solid base for discussions, and calling for creative approaches to strike a balance between maximizing benefits of, and providing protection against damage from, biotechnology developments.

Delegates elected René Lefeber (the Netherlands) and Jimena Nieto Carrasco (Colombia) as Co-Chairs of the meeting, and Maria Mbengashe (South Africa) as the rapporteur. They adopted the agenda of the meeting and organization of work (UNEP/CBD/BS/WG-L&R/1/1 and Add.1) without amendment.

Co-Chair Carrasco presented the report of the meeting of the Technical Expert Group (UNEP/CBD/BS/WG-L&R/1/2), highlighting the lack of regional or international instruments specifically addressing liability for damage resulting from transboundary movements of LMOs.

The Secretariat introduced: a compilation of views on the scenarios identified by the Technical Expert Group (UNEP/CBD/BS/WG-L&R/1/INF/1 and Add.1); a note on the definition of biodiversity loss and on indicators for assessing progress towards the 2010 biodiversity target (UNEP/CBD/BS/WG-L&R/1/INF/2); a note on the status of third-party liability treaties (UNEP/CBD/BS/WG-L&R/1/INF/3); and information on relevant recent developments in international law (UNEP/CBD/BS/WG-L&R/1/INF/4). She highlighted relevant documents on risk assessment and management (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/2/9) and on socioeconomic considerations (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/2/12). She explained that the Secretariat would make available information recently submitted by insurance companies on the availability of financial security to cover liability resulting from the transboundary movement of LMOs. SWITZERLAND asked the Secretariat to make available the Swiss submission of a draft sub-protocol on liability and redress.

EGYPT regretted the absence of negotiator Tewolde Egziabher (Ethiopia) due to Canada’s denial of a visa and stressed that host countries are required to facilitate, not hinder, participation. Executive Secretary Zedan informed delegates that the visa has been granted, following contacts with Canadian authorities.

Earth Negotiations Bulletin

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