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UN Documentation: Environment

Treaty Monitoring Bodies

MEA Treaty Monitoring Bodies

Many multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) establish a body to monitor the agreement.  

Often the body is composed of states that are party to the agreement (i.e. have signed, ratified or otherwise agreed to adhere to the agreement). These may be called Conference of the States Parties, Meeting of States Parties, or a similar name. There may also be a secretariat to support the work of the governing body.

There are many more MEAs than listed in this guide. In addition to broad conventions like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there are agreements on specific topics, such as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, as well as on certain regions, Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution.  These are not monitored by UN bodies, but by specialized organizations established by the conventions.

Not all MEAs are monitored by UN bodies.

UN member states may or may not be parties to a convention.  

To find the states parties, check the status of each convention:

  • on the UN Treaty Collection website, or
  • on the website of the convention.

UN Environmental Treaty Monitoring Bodies

The UN Enviromental Programme (UNEP) usually provides secretariat support for UN MEA treaty-monitoring bodies and leads UN-system coordination on MEAs. The following are three examples of UN bodies at work on this topic.

Many MEAs call for national reports from states parties about the status of implementation of the convention's provision in the national context. The Conference of the Parties may review the reports as well as take other actions. 

Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. The Conference of the Parties is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP.

  • Conference of the Parties was established pursuant to Article 7 of the UNFCCC
  • Meets annually, often in Bonn, Germany
  • Also serves as the meeting of States Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP)
  • Full text of documents available from the UNFCCC website, UNBISnet and the ODS
  • Document series symbol for working documents:
  • Sessional reports 
    • Series symbol FCCC/CP/year/-
    • example: FCCC/CP/2014/10 + Add.1 + Add.2 + Add.3
    • Provide summaries of the work concluded and contain the texts of resolutions and decisions adopted by the Conference
  • Press releases are not issued in New York
  • States Parties to the Convention are required by Article 12 to report on the steps taken to implement the Convention

Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer are dedicated to the protection of the earth's ozone layer.

  • Conference of the Parties was established pursuant to Article 6 of the Convention
    • Meets every 3 years
  • Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol is held annually
  • Handbooks to the convention and the protocol are updated regularly and provide:
    • details about the agreements
    • index to the decisions of the states parties
  • The Conference currently meets every three years
  • The full text of recent documents can be retrieved from the website
  • COP working documents series symbol:
  • COP sessional reports series symbol:
    • UNEP/OzL.Conv.session/-
    • example: UNEP/OzL.Conv.10/7
    • The reports provide summaries of the work concluded and contain the texts of resolutions and decisions adopted by the Conference. 

Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Convention on Biological Diversity has 3 objectives: the conservation of biological diversity; the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity; and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

  • Conference of the Parties was established pursuant to Article 23 of the Convention;
  • Conference meets annually;
  • The full text of documents is available on the Conference website;
  • Working documents series symbol
    • UNEP/CBD/COP/-
  • Sessional reports series symbol
    • UNEP/CBD/COP/[session]/-
    • example: UNEP/CBD/COP/12/29
    • The reports provide summaries of the work concluded and contain the texts of resolutions and decisions adopted by the Conference.