Key entities and concepts involved in monitoring genetic resources through the ABS Clearing-House
The information below provides an overview of the key entities and concepts involved in monitoring genetic resources through ABS Clearing-House:
Parties: To successfully operationalize the monitoring system facilitated by the ABS Clearing-House, it is important that each Party implement the Nagoya Protocol effectively at a national level and make available the required information to the ABS Clearing-House.
The ABS Clearing-House: The ABS Clearing-House (ABS-CH) is the main tool setup by the Protocol to share information and facilitate monitoring utilization of genetic resources. Established in Article 14, the ABS Clearing-House is a mechanism to share information relevant to ABS in order to enhance the necessary conditions for ABS to happen, namely: access, benefit-sharing, and compliance. The ABS Clearing-House also transmits information in order to alert the relevant authorities when information related to monitoring the utilization of genetic resources (IRCC and CPC) is made available.
Users (of genetic resources): Users are responsible for sharing the benefits derived from genetic resources with the providers. They seek access to genetic resources for a wide range of purposes, from basic research to the development of new products. They are a diverse group, including botanical gardens, industry researchers such as pharmaceutical, agriculture and cosmetic industries, collectors and research institutes. To gain access, users must first get permission (known as prior informed consent or PIC) from the provider country and establish an agreement (known as mutually agreed terms or MAT) to share the resulting benefits equitably.
Utilization/Use of genetic resources: Utilization of genetic resources (defined in Article 2 (c)) whether from plants, animals or micro-organisms, refers to the process of researching their beneficial properties and using them to increase scientific knowledge and understanding, or to develop commercial products.
Provider Country (country providing prior informed consent): The Party responsible for granting prior informed consent (PIC) and establishing mutually agreed terms (MAT) and issuing a national permit or equivalent to the user for the specific genetic resources is referred to as the provider country. They also are responsible for submitting information on the national permit or equivalent to the ABS Clearing-House in order to constitute an IRCC as evidence that the genetic resources has been accessed with PIC and MAT has been established in accordance with the ABS requirements of the provider country (Article 6, paragraph 3(e)).
The provider country will receive information (in the form of checkpoint communiqués made available in the ABS-CH) gathered from the user at checkpoints in the country where the genetic resources are being used. The provider country can use the information provided by checkpoint communiqué to locate the original national permit or equivalent. This way the provider can consult the national permit, which may contain confidential information, and compare this information against the information provided in the checkpoint communiqué. In case of any doubt or discrepancy to whether the genetic resource is being used in accordance with prior informed consent (PIC) and the established mutually agreed terms (MAT), the provider can take appropriate measures and contact the user or the country where utilization is taking place in order to cooperate bilaterally on the resolution of any potential issues of misappropriation.
User Country (country where utilization is taking place): The User Country refers to the country responsible for the jurisdiction in which utilization of a genetic resource is taking place. All Parties are responsible for designating effective checkpoints and ensuring the information provided by users of genetic resources at their checkpoints is made available to the ABS Clearing-House. Designated authorities of the user country can also receive the information coming from their own checkpoints about how genetic resources are being used within their jurisdiction. This allows user countries to establish a channel of communication with provider countries, and if desired, to take steps to verify that users of genetic resources under their jurisdiction are in compliance with ABS measures and to cooperate in cases of alleged violation.
Checkpoints (CP): Parties are to designate effective checkpoints along the value chain, that are to collect or receive information provided by users related to the utilization of genetic resources as described in Article 17 of the Protocol. The information collected or received by the checkpoints is meant to inform and alert relevant authorities, and above all, authorities in the provider country as to how their genetic resources are being used. The information collected or received at checkpoints is made available as a record on the ABS Clearing-House called a Checkpoint Communiqué (CPC).
Internationally Recognized Certificate of Compliance (IRCC): Parties requiring prior informed consent (PIC) are to provide for the issuance of a permit or equivalent ( Article 6, paragraph 3(e)), at the time of access, and make this information available to the ABS Clearing-House ( Article 14, paragraph 2(c)). When information on a national permit or equivalent is entered into the ABS Clearing-House and published, it becomes available as an IRCC (Article 17, paragraph 2). An IRCC provides evidence that the user has accessed a genetic resource legally and in accordance with prior informed consent and that mutually agreed terms have been established, as required by the domestic ABS legislation or regulatory requirements of the provider country (country providing prior informed consent) (Article 17, paragraph 3).
Confidentiality: The ABS Clearing-House does not host confidential information and therefore Publishing Authorities (PA) should take the utmost care to ensure that national records, in particular IRCCs and CPCs, do not contain confidential information. Article 17, paragraph 4, provides that the IRCC shall contain some minimum information when it is not confidential. Technically, in the ABS Clearing-House, the mandatory fields of the IRCC and CPC allow the possibility to avoid entering confidential information (either with checkbox indicating the information for the field is confidential or by the use of a free text field giving the submitter the flexibility to provide information that is not confidential).