Seeking to put at rest doubts over the status of the Copenhagen Accord agreed upon at the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) in the Danish capital last year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has issued a clarification saying that the agreement was not a legally binding document but merely a political one.
In a notification addressed to the Parties, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said that since the COP neither adopted nor endorsed the Accord, but merely took note of it, its provisions do not have any legal standing with the UNFCCC process even if some Parties decide to associate themselves with it. Secondly, since the Accord is a political agreement, rather than a treaty instrument subject to signature, a note verbale to the secretariat from an appropriate authority in the government concerned was sufficient to communicate the intention of a party to associate itself with the accord.
The clarification has been issued following numerous enquiries received by the UNFCCC secretariat over the wordings of the notification issued on January 18 asking the parties to convey their intention on whether or not to associate themselves with the accord by January 31, which read as: “In light of the legal character of the accord…” in the second paragraph. The secretariat also received queries whether they could physically sign the accord in order to signify their association and support. The phrase “In light of the legal character of the accord ...” should be read in its context, the clarification said.
Coincidentally, the notification comes a day after the second ministerial level meeting of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group of countries reiterated that the Copenhagen Accord was a political document and not legally binding on the parties that would associate themselves with it.