Maximizing transparency and tobacco industry accountability
Welcome to Corporate Accountability’s resource hub for the upcoming meetings of the global tobacco treaty for Party delegations, representatives of observer organizations, and the public.
Here, you will find a variety of resources on important issues surrounding the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), taking place 8 – 13 November, 2021, and the Second Meeting of the Parties (MOP2) of its Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (The Protocol), taking place 15 – 18 November, 2021.
These upcoming meetings provide a critical opportunity to strengthen global tobacco control implementation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and to rein in the tobacco industry’s ongoing attempts to interfere in, weaken, and delay the lifesaving measures of the WHO FCTC.
Prior to COP9 & MOP2: safeguarding against industry interference
At COP8 and MOP1, Parties decided to enhance transparency in negotiations and protect the treaty from tobacco industry interference by requiring observer organizations, the media, and the public to submit declarations of interest.
Parties further decided to require government delegations to declare their participation to be in accordance with Article 5.3 and its guidelines.
All delegations are encouraged to submit these declarations in conjunction with submitting their registrations.
For more information on the importance and groundbreaking nature of these decisions for Parties, download our one-page guide to the “maximizing transparency” decisions.
Furthermore, given their historic and precedent-setting nature, more than 120 public health organizations from around the globe have come together to urge Parties to fully implement these decisions in advance of COP9/MOP2. Download the letter to Parties, including the list of signatories, here.
You can find the full text of the “maximizing transparency” decisions here: COP8 and MOP1.
Parties can find a sample declaration-of-interest form here, should they choose to use such a format. (Download the document and scroll to page 6.) Please note that the final decision text (annexes 5, 6, and 7) includes template forms for observers, the media, and the public.
During COP9 & MOP2: monitoring and challenging interference
Big Tobacco has a long and well-documented history of interfering in public health policy around the globe to protect its own profits—including infiltrating meetings of the WHO FCTC by interfering with delegations and posing as members of the public or the media.
In fact, recently published research reveals how British American Tobacco (BAT) engaged in a systematic scheme of questionable payments across 10 African countries, with the apparent aim of interfering in WHO FCTC delegations and stalling progress on treaty implementation.
Moreover, in 2017, Reuters published an in-depth exposé of the tobacco industry’s tactics for interference at COP7. (These revelations helped spark Parties to take decisive action through the “maximizing transparency” decisions at COP8 and MOP1.) All attendees of treaty negotiations—Parties, observers, media, and the public alike—can benefit from understanding the depth of the industry’s tactics by reading this research and analysis here and here.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry’s interference in public health policy around the world has continued unabated. For more, read the 2020 global tobacco industry interference index.
Of course, this interference isn’t new. Read more on the tobacco industry’s past use of front groups to interfere in WHO FCTC negotiations.
This year, COP9 and MOP2 will be held virtually, posing new challenges for Party delegations and new opportunities for the tobacco industry to interfere. Given the industry’s history of undermining the WHO FCTC and The Protocol, and its current and ongoing attempts to thwart lifesaving tobacco control policy around the globe, it is critical that Parties take all measures possible to protect the treaty—including by submitting their declarations as soon as possible.
In addition, the Secretariat has a mandate from prior COPs to create tools and resources to assist Parties with Article 19 on liability, which provides another powerful avenue for holding the tobacco industry accountable. Parties can support this mandate by securing budgetary allocations for this at COP9 and ensuring it is on the agenda for COP10.
Corporate Accountability and our partners will be monitoring tobacco industry interference during the COP9 and MOP2 negotiations. If you become aware of industry attempts to interfere before or during the meetings, reach out to [email protected], as well as to the WHO FCTC Secretariat.
Following COP9 & MOP2: advancing industry accountability
After the negotiations, it will be important for Parties, the Bureau, the Secretariat, and observers to assess the strengths and challenges of the DOI process and develop any necessary adjustments for future treaty meetings.
In addition, Parties should build on the momentum from COP8 to continue advancing Article 19, a visionary measure of the WHO FCTC that provides a powerful pathway for industry accountability.
For too long, the tobacco industry has used legal threats to intimidate governments into abandoning the implementation of the treaty’s boldest measures. It is time to shift the burden of tobacco onto the industry, force it to respect the rule of law, and make it pay for the harms caused by its products.
Advancing Article 19 on liability not only allows Parties to hold the tobacco industry legally liable for its abuses; it can also advance all of the lifesaving measures of the WHO FCTC. It has the potential for governments to recover the costs of treating tobacco-related disease from the tobacco industry and use their legal systems to ensure their right to do so.
Parties, the Secretariat, and experts have created a practical, online toolkit that provides guidance to Parties to advance Article 19. Parties should continue supporting the Secretariat in completing its mandate from prior COPs to create tools and resources to assist Parties with Article 19, and ensure it is on the agenda for COP10.
In the meantime, governments at all levels can use the toolkit and other resources to begin implementing Article 19 and holding the tobacco industry accountable around the world. In fact, governments around the world have successfully litigated against the tobacco industry, and many more can do so. If you are interested in advancing liability in your country and would like support, please reach out to [email protected].
Resources at a glance
- Full text of “maximizing transparency” decisions: COP8 & MOP1. Template declaration-of-interest forms for observers, the media, and the public can be found here.
- Sample declaration-of-interest form for Parties, should they choose to use such a format. (Download the document and scroll to page 6.)
- Guide for Parties to the “maximizing transparency” decisions.
- Letter from civil society organizations in support of Party implementation of the “maximizing transparency” decisions.
- New exposé of British American Tobacco’s scheme of questionable payments across 10 African countries.
- Reuters’ exposé of Big Tobacco’s covert campaign to undermine the FCTC, along with the source documents.
- Tobacco Control: “Tobacco industry’s ITGA fights FCTC implementation in the Uruguay negotiations”
- More on industry attempts to infiltrate treaty meetings by posing as members of the public or the media.
- FCA Bulletin, COP7: “Tobacco industry and front groups pump up their propaganda for COP7“
- FCA Bulletin, COP8: “Wolves in sheep’s clothing: the need for transparency in delegations“
- 2020 global tobacco industry interference index.
- Full text of Article 19 decision, including the Secretariat’s mandate.
- “Tobacco industry accountability and liability in the time of COVID-19”
- FCTC Article 19 liability toolkit
- Map of successful tobacco industry litigation cases around the world.
- EN: Bulletin 1, October 2021, Centro Cooperación Internacional de Control de Tobaco (CCICT), Uruguay
- EN: Bulletin 2: November 2021, Centro de Cooperación Internacional de Control de Tabaco (CCICT), Uruguay
- COP26 Press Conference: Just transitions or just greenwashing?: Remarks from Dr. Adriana Blanco Marquizo, Head of the Secretariat.
- African Tobacco Industry Interference Index
- WEBINAR: Maximizing Transparency in the lead up to COP9 and MOP2
- Resources from Tobacco Tactics by the University of Bath – the latest news on the tobacco industry.
- Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control: Tobacco Industry interference at COP9 of the WHO FCTC.
- Framework Convention Alliance: COP9 Bulletin: Tuesday, 9 November 2021
For more resources or support, please contact [email protected].