Climate Change

Keep us in the room, urge observers at Bonn climate summit

ADP co-chairs barred observers from attending negotiations in spin-off groups after Japan said real negotiations cannot happen in front of the public

By Arjuna Srinidhi
Published: Wednesday 21 October 2015

After an explosive start to negotiations in Bonn, the acrimony continued into day 2 with the co-chairs barring negotiators from attending the discussions in "spin-off" groups. A "spin off" group is a smaller group of country representatives which works simultaneously on specific sections of the draft Paris agreement such as adaptation, finance and mitigation, among others.

 The decision to keep the observers out of the spin-off groups was taken on Tuesday after Japan raised an objection to the presence of observers. Hideaki Mizukoshi, from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, "We have a very short time left for serious negotiations. Diplomats know real negotiations cannot happen in front of the public. If we open spin offs to observers, we will need another group to do the real negotiations. This is not the time for such show, but for real negotiations.”

Co-chair Daniel Reifsnyder went ahead with the decision despite repeated calls against it by members of the G77+China group. The group represents more than 130 developing countries at the negotiations. 

G77+China reacted strongly with Ambassador Diseko of South Africa saying that those calling for observers to be present were also real diplomats and were for transparency. Mexico and Malaysia said that the negotiators are accountable to all the observers and that a large part of what the negotiators do and say is because of the observers.

Despite statements of support and references to articles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which calls for observers to be included in the discussions, the co-chairs concluded that unless everyone agrees, parties have the right to keep informal discussions closed to observers. They added, however, that observers would be invited to the stocktaking sessions held at the start and end of day.

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