Conventions & Secretariats

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol was adopted on 13 December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007. There were 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and 1 ratification of the Convention. This is the highest number of signatories in history to a UN Convention on its opening day. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and is the first human rights convention to be open for signature by regional integration organizations. The Convention entered into force on 3May 2008.

The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects”  of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.

The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.

The Convention was negotiated during eight sessions of an Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly from 2002 to 2006, making it  the fastest negotiated human rights treaty.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 

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Convention to Combat Desertification – UNCCD

About the Convention

​Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found. In the 10-Year Strategy of the UNCCD (2008-2018) that was adopted in 2007, Parties to the Convention further specified their goals: “to forge a global partnership to reverse and prevent desertification/land degradation and to mitigate the effects of drought in affected areas in order to support poverty reduction and environmental sustainability”.The Convention’s 195 parties work together to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought. The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation. The UNCCD secretariat facilitates cooperation between developed and developing countries, particularly around knowledge and technology transfer for sustainable land management.

As the dynamics of land, climate and biodiversity are intimately connected, the UNCCD collaborates closely with the other two Rio Conventions; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to meet these complex challenges with an integrated approach and the best possible use of natural resources.

Mandate of the Permanent Secretariat

The permanent secretariat of the Convention was established in Article 23 of the UNCCD. It has been located in Bonn, Germany since January 1999, and moved from its first Bonn address in Haus Carstanjen to the new UN campus in July 2006.
In line with Article 23 of the UNCCD, the key function of the secretariat is to service the sessions of the COP and its subsidiary bodies. This includes a multitude of tasks, ranging from the preparation of substantive documentation to logistical arrangements for the sessions.
The ten-year Strategy specifies the mandate of the secretariat for the period 2008-2018. According to The Strategy, …” Successful implementation of this strategic plan requires a strengthening of the core servicing, advocacy and agenda-setting and representation functions of the UNCCD secretariat – with commensurate capacity and resources – in order to support Parties, the COP and the subsidiary bodies of the Convention in fulfilling their respective roles. The secretariat has a lead role for operational objective 1 [on advocacy, awareness raising and education] and specific outcomes of operational objectives 2 and 3 [on policy framework and science, technology and knowledge, respectively] as well as a support role in other operational objectives [on capacity building and financing and technology transfer]…”.

Current priorities of the secretariat

The current results-based framework for the secretariat is presented in its 2012–2015 workplan.  The overall aim of the secretariat remains to service the COP and its subsidiary bodies in a manner that enables well-founded decision-making and successful action in advancing the implementation of The Strategy. Particular attention is paid to

(a) Increasing the political momentum: Active promotion of the UNCCD, notably by linking scientific findings with political decision-making, will  support growing global commitment to sustainable land management.

(b) Moving towards global target-setting: 2012 national reporting on progress made in meeting the ten-year strategy will lead to the first systematic impact assessment under the UNCCD. Follow up to this assessment and further development of the reporting tools represent opportunities to introduce specific targets for the achievement of concrete results in addressing desertification, land degradation and drought.

(c) Improving conditions for national implementation: Regional cooperation and coordination, efficient information exchange and targeted capacity-building are critical for national success in addressing desertification, land degradation and drought.

In order to efficiently carry out its tasks, the secretariat will improve its knowledge-management functions and place particular emphasis on building and strengthening partnerships with programmes and institutions that have proven capacities to contribute to different aspects of The Strategy. ​

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UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

n 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.

By 1995, countries realized that emission reductions provisions in the Convention were inadequate. They launched negotiations to strengthen the global response to climate change, and, two years later, adopted the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. The second commitment period began on 1 January 2013 and will end in 2020.

There are now 195 Parties to the Convention and 191 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The UNFCCC secretariat supports all institutions involved in the international climate change negotiations, particularly the Conference of the Parties (COP), the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties (CMP), the subsidiary bodies (which advise the COP/CMP), and the COP/CMP Bureau (which deals mainly with procedural and organizational issues arising from the COP/CMP and also has technical functions). For a brief depiction of how these various bodies are related to one another, please see Bodies.

The question of what happens beyond 2020 was answered by Parties in Durban (2011). For more information on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, click here.

Climate change is a complex problem, which, although environmental in nature, has consequences for all spheres of existence on our planet. It either impacts on– or is impacted by– global issues, including poverty, economic development, population growth, sustainable development and resource management. It is not surprising, then, that solutions come from all disciplines and fields of research and development.

At the very heart of the response to climate change, however, lies the need to reduce emissions. In 2010, governments agreed that emissions need to be reduced so that global temperature increases are limited to below 2 degrees Celsius.

The UNFCCC Convention

The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. The 195 countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention.

The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Its sister Rio Conventions are the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification. The three are intrinsically linked. It is in this context that the Joint Liaison Group was set up to boost cooperation among the three Conventions, with the ultimate aim of developing synergies in their activities on issues of mutual concern. It now also incorporates the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system is the ultimate aim of the UNFCCC.

Text of the UNFCC Convention, in many languages, can be found here>>>

Decisions adopted by COP 18 and CMP 8

Related

Intro to Kyoto Protocol and Text of the Kyoto Protocol

The Cancun Agreements