Article 20, paragraph 1, of the Biosafety Protocol established a Biosafety Clearing-House as follows:
A Biosafety Clearing-House is hereby established as part of the clearing-house mechanism under Article 18, paragraph 3, of the Convention, in order to:
(a) Facilitate the exchange of scientific, technical, environmental and legal information on, and experience with, living modified organisms; and
(b) Assist Parties to implement the Protocol, taking into account the special needs of developing country Parties, in particular the least developed and small island developing States among them, and countries with economies in transition as well as countries that are centres of origin and centres of genetic diversity.
On 29 January 2000, the Conference of the Parties adopted decision EM-I/3, which, inter alia, requested the Executive Secretary to commence preparatory work on the functioning of the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) referred to in Article 20 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
At the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, the Executive Secretary was requested to convene, prior to the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP), the meeting of technical experts on the Biosafety Clearing-House referred to in the table at the end of decision EM-I/3 (decision V/1, paragraph 3).
In compliance with decision V/1, paragraph 3, the meeting of technical experts on the Biosafety Clearing-House was convened in Montreal at the seat of the Secretariat from 11 to 23 September 2000. Experts were drawn from a roster of Government-nominated experts, qualified in the fields of management of biosafety-related issues, information-sharing systems and database-management, establishment of clearing houses and/or the clearing-house mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity. In addition to the Government-nominated experts, the following were also invited to participate in the meeting:
· The chairman and members of the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety;
· Representatives from the following intergovernmental organizations active in biosafety and/or information-exchange issues: Global environment Facility (GEF), International Center for Genetic Engineering on Biotechnology (ICGEB), European Commission Joint Research Centre, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Third World Academy of Science (TWAS), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP); and
· Representatives of the Global Industry Coalition and the NGO community
The technical expert meeting considered issues relevant to information-sharing requirements and Biosafety Clearing-House as reflected in the work plan of the ICCP endorsed by the COP (decision V/1, paragraph 1) The conclusions and recommendations of the meeting of technical experts on the Biosafety Clearing-House were considered by the ICCP at its first meeting in Montpellier, 11-15 December 2000. The conclusions and recommendations of the meeting are contained in its report (document UNEP/CBD/ICCP/1/9).