The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is one of the most important international treaties recently adopted. It marks the commitment of the international community to ensure the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms. It is an historic commitment as it is the first binding international agreement dealing with biosafety, thereby addressing novel and controversial issues.

To conclude the negotiation of a treaty marks an end, but also a beginning: the beginning of an implementation process which will determine whether the results of the negotiation will, in reality, achieve the objective which originally set the negotiation process in motion. One prerequisite for the successful implementation of a treaty is an understanding of the text itself, and of its implications. In this regard, the Cartagena Protocol is a text that may well not be readily accessible to all those who will need to become involved, in one way or the other, with its implementation. We hope that this Explanatory Guide will both make the Protocol more readily accessible and prove useful as a reference work for those who are involved in its implementation.

IUCN and FIELD are pleased to present the results of a two year process of cooperation and consultation, during which they were joined by WRI. The partnership forged during the preparation of the Guide has been fruitful, constructive, and harmonious. We therefore look forward to continuing our joint efforts in this and related fields, and express our gratitude to those who made this collaboration possible.

John Scanlon, Director, IUCN-ELC
Tony Gross, Director, FIELD
Jonathan Lash, President, WRI

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