The Conference of the Parties (COP)
The Conference of the Parties
The COP was established by the Convention as the supreme decision-making body; it comprises ratifying governments and regional economic integration organizations, such as the European Union. Up to the year 2005, the COP had held seven sessions; it has been meeting biennially since 2001. One of the main functions of the COP is to review reports submitted by the Parties detailing how they are carrying out their commitments; the COP makes recommendations on the basis of these reports. It also has the power to make amendments to the Convention or to adopt new annexes, such as additional regional implementation annexes. In this way, the COP can guide the Convention as global circumstances and national needs change. To assist the COP, the Convention provides for subsidiary bodies and allows the COP to establish additional ones if necessary.
The Bureau of the COP
At the beginning of the first meeting of each ordinary session, a President and nine Vice-Presidents are elected from among the representatives of the Parties present at the session in a manner that every geographical region shall be represented by at least two members. They serve as the Bureau of the session. One of the Vice-Presidents shall act as Rapporteur.
The President declares the opening and closing of the session, presides at the meetings of the session, ensures the observance of the present rules, and has complete control of the proceedings and over the maintenance of order thereat. The President, if temporarily absent from a meeting or any part thereof, shall designate a Vice-President to act as President.
The Bureau of the COP has an important role in the UNCCD process also outside the sessions, as it directs various aspects concerning the follow-up of the COP and the preparations of the next one. The COP Bureau is also often assigned by the COP to supervise specific, particularly demanding or sensitive tasks or processes that are carried out between the COP sessions.