Seventh International Cocoa Agreement Adopted by Consensus at the
United Nations Cocoa Conference
The United Nations Cocoa Conference which was held in Geneva, under the auspices of UNCTAD from 21st to 25th June, 2010 successfully concluded a new International Cocoa Agreement. This agreement will replace the current one, which was negotiated in 2001, and is to expire in 2012.
It may be recalled that the conference's session on April 19, 2010, which was opened by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, had to be postponed because of the disruption of flights by the volcanic eruption in Iceland. That session elected Ambassador Guy-Alain Emmanuel Gauze of Côte d'Ivoire as President and Mr. Max Schnellmann of Switzerland as Vice-President.
The Conference, was attended by representatives of fifty-three(53) countries, spanning West Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe and was addressed by the Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mr. Petko Draganov. In his statement, the DSG called on the Conference to, inter alia, address the issues of sustainability so that commodity economies in general, would make long-term and valuable contribution to growth and development in producing/exporting countries.
The new International Cocoa Agreement, which was reached by consensus on Friday, June 25, 2010, represents a successful culmination of a long and intensive period of negotiation among members of the ICCO, which started in autumn, 2008.
The New Agreement
Like the International Cocoa Agreement 2001, currently in effect, the primary objective of the 2010 International Cocoa Agreement is the development and strengthening of international cooperation between producers and consumers in the cocoa sector. There are, however, several aspects of the new Agreement, which differs from the 2001 Agreement.
While the 2001 Agreement was meant to last for five years, with two-year extensions the new pact is to last initially for ten years and may be extended for two additional two-year periods (Article 62(4)). This is a clear sign that all parties recognise the long-term value of the Agreement, and their commitment to it.
The Agreement provides for the streamlining of the governing structure of the Organisation in order to enhance its efficiency, inclusiveness and ability to address current challenges. The new Agreement makes provision for an Economics Committee (Article 27) and an Administration and Finance Committee (AFC) (Article 19) to scrutinise the five-year strategic plans, and supervise the budget proposals of the Executive Director respectively. The AFC will also carry out other administrative and financial tasks which the Council may assign (Article 19(2)). The Economics Committee on its part, further addresses issues regarding the economic dimension of sustainable development in the cocoa economy (Article 27).
Furthermore, a broad-based Consultative Board on the World Cocoa Economy, with clearly defined functions has been created (Articles 44, 45, 46). While this reinforces cooperation amongst members, it also extends cooperation with other stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society, who, in my view also have a valuable role to play in the effort to make the cocoa value chain more sustainable. The Consultative Board has an important role to play in tackling the challenges facing the cocoa economy, for example on issues such as promotion of consumption, food safety and sustainability.
The promotion of transparency has always been relevant for a better functioning world cocoa market. Consequently, the role of the ICCO in collecting, processing and distributing data from both private and public sources, and through increased cooperation between the ICCO and the private sector has been further enhanced in Article 30 of the Agreement. This should benefit all actors in the market and hopefully, the small holder farmer as well.
Other new changes:
- The organisation now has a reinforced mandate for the development of projects, recognising their role in strengthening national cocoa economies and making them more responsive to evolving demand (Article 40).
- The Agreement recognises the importance of productivity and profitability at all stages of the cocoa value chain, especially in producing countries to address development concerns (Article 43).
- Furthermore, members strengthened their commitment to developing the cocoa economy in a sustainable manner by recognising the importance of economic viability, social responsibility and environmental concerns of all stakeholders in the value chain (Article 43).
- Promotion of the quality of cocoa and recognition of the need to develop appropriate food safety procedures in the sector. There are clearly defined procedures for the establishment of fine or "flavour" cocoa, (Article 39).
- The provision for the entry into force of the Agreement has been slightly modified. The new Article 57(3) states that if the requirements for entry into force have not been met by 1st September 2011, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD should at the earliest time practicable, convene a meeting of those Governments, which have deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, or have notified the Depository that they will apply this Agreement provisionally. This is to bring the Article in line with practice. It is believed that the convening of a meeting is an administrative, rather than a depository function, and should be performed by UNCTAD.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations is to forward copies of the Agreement to all Governments and Inter-governmental organisations invited to the 2010 UN Cocoa Conference as soon as possible. He is also to open the Agreement for signature at the UN Headquarters in New York from 1 October 2010, until, and including 30 September 2010.
The new Agreement is expected to build on the success of the current 2001 Agreement, by implementing measures leading to an increase in the income of cocoa farmers and by supporting cocoa producers to improve the functioning of their cocoa economies. It is also envisaged that the new Agreement will deliver cocoa of better quality, taking into account food safety standards and the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability so that farmers are rewarded for producing cocoa that meets ethical and environmental standards (Article 42). The new Agreement, therefore, represents a win-win outcome for all members, producer and consumer countries alike and provides a good basis to work together on our common challenges.
In its resolution No.TD/COCOA.10/L5 dated 25th June, 2010, the Conference mandated the Secretary-General of the UN to forward copies of the text of the Agreement to all Governments and intergovernmental organisations invited to the conference for their consideration. The UN Secretary-General is also to arrange for the Agreement to be open for signature at the UN HQ in New York. Indeed, the Agreement shall be open for signature at the UN HQ from 1st October, 2010 until and including 30th September, 2012 by parties to the International Cocoa Agreement, 2001, and Governments invited to the UN Cocoa Conference, 2010, or the International Cocoa Council under this Agreement may, however, extend once the period of signature of this Agreement.