Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on OEWG-12


The convening of the online segment of the OEWG-12 takes place under extraordinary circumstances and is without prejudice to future arrangements regarding OEWG meetings. The information below, which will be updated as needed, is provided by the Secretariat for information purposes and only within this specific context. The details on the technical arrangements of the online segment of the OEWG-12 will be provided in due course. The information below is without prejudice to the authority of the Parties to interpret the Convention and the rules of procedure.

Last updated on 24 July 2020

What does “online” mean?

Under the Basel Convention, the Conference of the Parties usually uses the terminology “electronic means” to refer to meetings or other intersessional work conducted online. An “online” meeting therefore may include “live” sessions using devices such as telephone or a computer (audio or video), and sessions conducted by electronic correspondence (e.g., email).

Do the rules of procedure apply to the online segment of the OEWG-12?

Yes, pursuant to rule 26 paragraph 6 of the rules of procedure for meetings of the Conference of the Parties. These rules apply whether a meeting is conducted physically or online.

Are there adjustments to the roles and responsibilities of the co-Chairs and the Bureau during the online segment of the OEWG-12?

No. The roles of the co-Chairs of the OEWG are analogous to that of the President of the Conference of the Parties, and the role of the Rapporteur is analogous to that of the Rapporteur of the Conference of the Parties. The role of the Bureau is not specified in the rules of procedure, but according to past practice, this role is limited to matters related to the organization of work of the meeting.

Will the online segment of the OEWG-12 be public?

Yes, unless the OEWG-12 decides otherwise (rule 29 paragraph 2 of the rules of procedure). In accordance with past practice, all efforts will be made, bearing in mind possible technological constraints that may arise, to provide access to the meeting for each duly registered participant. The online sessions will be recorded and made available on the password protected website to meeting participants.

Do the usual rules and practice apply with respect to the representation of participants (Parties and observers) during the online segment of the OEWG-12?

Yes. Parties and observers are required to register to participate in the online segment of the OEWG-12. For Party representatives, registration forms should be accompanied by an official nomination letter emanating from the Government or a note verbale from the Permanent Mission of the country to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva. For observer representatives, please contact the Secretariat. Click here for more information on the registration process.

How will the presence of participants be assessed during the online segment of the OEWG-12?

The rules of procedure provide for requirements of presence for the meeting to proceed. In the event of an open-ended body, one quarter of the Parties shall constitute a quorum (rule 26 paragraph 5). In the case of an online meeting, “presence” for the purpose of determining quorum is not physical presence but remote presence, via an electronic device. For the purpose of the online segment, each representative will be provided by the Secretariat with an individual password to access the online session.

What are the expected outcomes of the online sessions?

The objective and possible outcomes of the online segment are, pursuant to the agreement reached in the Bureau following extensive deliberations and consultations with the regions, the consideration of technical briefings provided by the Secretariat, as well as the chairs of intersessional working groups and subsidiary bodies, as relevant, on all matters to be considered by the Open-ended Working Group pursuant to decisions adopted by the Conference of the Parties at its fourteenth meeting. Also pursuant to the agreement reached in the Bureau, in concluding the consideration of each item, the co-chairs will also invite the meeting to invite Parties and observers to provide comments on the products of the meeting after the meeting according to the timelines specified in document UNEP/CHW/OEWG.12/15/Rev.1 and to invite the Secretariat, subsidiary bodies and/or lead countries, as applicable, to take into account those comments in revising their products.

Will the OEWG be expected to take any decisions during the online segment of the OEWG-12?

During the online segment of the OEWG-12, agreement will be sought on organizational matters, namely the adoption of the agenda and the organization of work, as well as on the approach for adopting the meeting report. The agreement reached in the Bureau provides that no decisions on substantive matters will be adopted during the online segment and no negotiations on products of the intersessional processes (e.g., draft reports, manuals, technical guidelines, guidance, recommendations) will take place.

What is the timing of the online segment of the OEWG-12 and why was it selected?

The online segment will consist of two online sessions held over two days, on Tuesday, 1 September 2020 and on Thursday, 3 September 2020, at 2 pm Geneva time (UTC+2). Each session will last for three hours and will be conducted in the six official languages of the United Nations. During the sessions, the OEWG will consider all the items of the agenda for the meeting consecutively. This timing allows the largest number of countries to participate during normal working hours and for much of the world to participate within a 6am to midnight timeframe. Unfortunately, this does not work well for some participants, however, all participants will be able to listen to the recording of the online sessions.

Parties have been invited to consider registering additionally their Permanent Missions in Geneva so as to prevent any possible participation issues that they may anticipate facing during the online sessions, e.g., linked to connectivity issue or time zone difference.

Will the online sessions of the OEWG-12 be recorded?

Yes. The online sessions will be recorded and made available on the password protected website to meeting participants. This should be particularly useful to participants who were unable to attend the session live.

What sort of technology will be required to participate in OEWG-12?

The Secretariat has selected Interprefy as the software for the online segment. Interprefy provides for simultaneous interpretation in the six languages of the United Nations during the online sessions.

Will there be a report of the online segment of the OEWG-12?

Yes. The report will cover both online sessions. It will be prepared by the Rapporteur with the assistance of the Secretariat and will be made available in the six languages of the United Nations.

Will there be an opportunity for participants to test their connectivity to the online segment of the OEWG-12 before the meeting?

Yes, technical trials will be organized to allow delegates to test their connectivity. Parties will be informed in due time of when the technical trials will be organized.

Are the passwords given to attend the online sessions transferable?

No, the user IDs and passwords are personal, and will be assigned based on the registration form submitted and the standard registration process. All delegates are encouraged to send their registrations as soon as possible to be able to generate their user IDs and passwords.

How will the Secretariat ensure security of the online sessions?

The meeting will have the standard intranet, containing all meeting documents, schedules, announcements and links to all relevant resources, including a link to the online sessions. This time the intranet is password protected and protected by encryption technologies. Delegates can login to the intranet only by using the Secretariat assigned user ID and password.

How will participants be given the floor during the online sessions. Do we raise our flags?

During the online sessions, participants can use the software feature “raise your hand”. The Secretariat will monitor those requests and put them in the queue for the co-Chairs to give the floor in accordance with the established procedures.