A country (State) that is not party to an international agreement in the environmental sphere may be granted observer status for some or all parts of the negotiation process, as a way to encourage involvement, keep the countries updated and to encourage joining the treaty regime or uphold the norms arising from international agreements.

Non-state actors may also be given observer status, although this may be curtailed in comparison to country observer status. Non-state actors given observer status may include non-government organizations (NGOs), business and industry organizations, research and academic NGOs, indigenous groups, civil society organizations (CSOs), local governments, etc.

Observer status usually involves the following:

  • The ability (but not necessarily the right) to attend specified meetings, work groups, discussions, etc.
  • May be allowed to speak at formal meetings.
  • May be able to submit proposals.
  • May have the ability to intervene.

The extent of involvement of observers in the meeting, discussion or other related processes is usually dependent on the preferences of the presiding officers and/or chair. Observers can generally be excluded from any part of the meetings as the parties or presiding officers determine appropriate. Usually observers do not have the ability to vote on anything during the negotiations. Usually observers are not able to attend closed meetings of the parties to the agreement.

If a party to the agreement objects, observers may be removed or barred from attending any meeting or discussion.

Observers must adhere to the rules relevant for participation in the meetings or negotiations. These are usually termed something like Rules of Procedure.

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Authors Felicity
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Language English (en)
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Created January 30, 2016 by Felicity
Modified March 2, 2022 by Page script
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