"Access and Benefit Sharing" is an important theme of the Convention on Biological Diversity, but this issue also occupies a central place in other fora.
The FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
The International Treaty was adopted in November 2001 at the 31st session of the FAO Conference. This Treaty was ratified by Belgium in 2007. Its objective is to facilitate access and benefit sharing arising from the utilisation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. It also targets the conservation and sustainable use of these resources as a basis for sustainable agriculture and food security. This legally binding international instrument was designed to work in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The International Treaty guarantees the continuation of exchanges of phytogenetic resources (pertaining to plant resources), essential for sustainable agriculture and global food security. In order to do this, it set up a "multilateral system" to facilitate access to phytogenetic resources of 64 major crops and feeds listed in Annex 1. The Treaty also recognizes the Rights of farmers, which include the protection of traditional knowledge and the right to equitably participate in benefit-sharing and in the national decision-making process on plant genetic resources.
In 2009, Belgium set up a National Committee on Phytogenetic Resources. This committee coordinates the regional and federal actions and policies on phytogenetic resources and the biodiversity of crops. It works under the aegis of the Permanent Working Group of the Interministerial Conference for Agricultural Policy (GT- CIPA).
The WTO (World Trade Organization) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) came into force in early 1995. Its aim is to integrate the intellectual property rights (copyright, trademarks, patents, etc.) in the WTO system and aims to reduce the differences such that these rights are protected by the world.
According to the TRIPS Agreement, the protection of intellectual property should contribute to technical innovation and technology transfer. However, it has been strongly condemned, because in fact, it would contribute to industrial monopolies on technologies, seeds and genes. It is therefore logical that the interface with the ABS concept occurs at this level.
WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation)
In October 2000, the General Assembly of the WIPO (World Property Intellectual Organization) established the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. It has a mandate to negotiate an agreement on one or several international legal instruments that will ensure effective protection especially for genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
The Committee's current mandate ends in 2013 with the holding of its twenty-third session. It will examine the decision of the WIPO's General Assembly and will review the work to be undertaken for reaching an agreement.
WHO (World Health Organization) and its "Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework"
The PIP framework has been effective since May 2011, the date of its adoption by the 64th World Health Assembly (the supreme decision-making body of the WHO). It aims to improve the exchange of influenza viruses with pandemic potential and benefit-sharing, especially by setting up, in very specific cases, a predictable, efficient and equitable access to vaccines and medicines in future pandemics to countries who need it.
Unlike other instruments such as the International Treaty and the Nagoya Protocol, the PIP framework is not legally binding.