COP9 “excludes many legitimate perspectives: notably consumers, pro-harm reduction public health experts, policy think tanks and critical economists, libertarians, and commercial entities affected by decisions made by COP,”
Bates opens his post by highlighting that at the start of COP-9, the head of the FCTC convention secretariat tried drawing a comparison between the two events, probably in the hope that some of the interest in UNFCCC COP-26 would rub off on COP9.

However, there is an obvious sharp contrast between the two COPs. COP9 is secretive, restrictive and what can only be described as a classic example of group think: “a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.”

COP9 has gained a reputation of striving to keep multiple stakeholders out of any discussions. “It excludes many legitimate perspectives: notably consumers, pro-harm reduction public health experts, policy think tanks and critical economists, libertarians, and commercial entities affected by decisions made by COP,” said Bates of the event.

In contrast, COP26 includes representatives from business and industry, environmental groups, farming and agriculture, indigenous populations, local governments and municipal authorities, research and academic institutes, labour unions, and so on. In other words, it is not hostile to any group, even if their views and goals may be in contrast to those of the convention. Examples of such groups are: the World Coal Association, International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP), Organisation of International Automobile Manufacturers and International Council for Mining and Metals (ICMM).

Bates goes on to list the comparisons in detail:

A comparison between tobacco and climate change treaties

This insularity is not a feature of the UNFCCC climate COP meetings. A comparison with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is revealing.

FCTC (tobacco control) UNFCCC (climate change)
Number and type of observers

As at 8 November 2021

21 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) [source]

28 Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) [source]

One observer, the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) is a holding group for about 300 organisations nearly all of which would not qualify if they had to apply using the current criteria. Its members can attend under the FCA umbrella – but they must meet FCA’s membership requirements and support its tobacco control vision and mission.  This organisation was given de facto permanent observer status under the Rules of procedure 32(1):

Nongovernmental organizations which participated in the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and in the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are accredited as observers to the Conference of the Parties.

This is referring to meetings held in 1999-2003.

No business or consumer organisations have been granted observer status. No organisations critical of the FCTC, its interpretation by COP, WHO, the Secretariat, any parties or tobacco control generally have been admitted. They are ruled out by selection criteria, veto and reporting requirements.

Number and type of observers

As of 2019 is 2,500 organisations (2,360 NGO and 140 IGOs) were admitted as observers. The NGOs represent a broad spectrum of interests. They include representatives from business and industry, environmental groups, farming and agriculture, indigenous populations, local governments and municipal authorities, research and academic institutes, labour unions, women and gender and youth groups. [source] [list]

Includes Business NGOs likely to be hostile to the aims of the UNFCCC, such as the World Coal Association, International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP), Organisation of International Automobile Manufacturers and International Council for Mining and Metals (ICMM). Does not admit for-profit businesses.

Criteria for observer status

Applicants must be international. This excludes most individuals (e.g. academics) and organisations that support tobacco harm reduction.

They must have aims and activities that are “in conformity” with the FCTC “spirit purpose and principles”. This effectively excludes critics.

Rules of procedure 31(2)

31.2. … international and regional non-governmental organisations whose aims and activities are in conformity with the spirit, purpose and principles of the Convention, may apply for observer status, which may be granted by the Conference of the Parties, based on the report of the Secretariat, and taking into account the 17th and 18th preambular paragraphs as well as Article 5.3 of the Convention. Such applications should be submitted to the Secretariat not later than ninety days before the opening of the session.

Criteria for observer status

Applicants may be a national body and only have to show they have relevant knowledge, not necessarily a particular policy perspective.

UNFCCC Article 7(6)

Any body or agency, whether national or international, governmental or non-governmental, which is qualified in matters covered by the Convention, and which has informed the Secretariat of its wish to be represented at a session of the Conference of the Parties as an observer, may be so admitted unless at least one third of the Parties present object.

Decision-making on observer status

The Secretariat reviews conformance with criteria and makes a recommendation to the COP, which has to agree by consensus. As a result, any party has a veto.

Rules of procedure 31.2

“granted by the Conference of the Parties, based on the report of the Secretariat, and taking into account the 17th and 18th preambular paragraphs as well as Article 5.3

Decision-making on observer status

The Secretariat reviews applications and makes recommendations to the COP based on capabilities. An applicant can only be blocked by one-third of the parties.

UNFCCC Article 7(6)

may be so admitted unless at least one third of the Parties present at the session object

Qualifiers

Observers should contribute to ‘tobacco control’ efforts.

From rule 31.2 on observers- referring to FCTC text

17th recitation:

Emphasising the special contribution of non-governmental organisations and other members of civil society not affiliated with the tobacco industry, including health professional bodies, women’s, youth, environmental and consumer groups, and academic and health care institutions, to tobacco control efforts nationally and internationally and the vital importance of their participation in national and international tobacco control efforts,

Qualifiers

None

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