Article 20 – Secretary

Article 20 defines the role of the Secretary within the Treaty and the manner of his or her appointment. Under Article 20, the Secretariat is required to provide practical and administrative support for the Governing Body. Experience has shown that an international treaty can only function satisfactorily if it is complemented by a secretariat carrying out a number of functions between the meetings of the Governing Body.

Since the Treaty has been adopted under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution, there are certain rules in addition to Article 20.1 that must apply to his or her appointment. These rules would require, for example, that the Secretary must be a staff member of FAO. In this case the appointment must be “with the approval of the Governing Body”. The Basic Texts of FAO, and in particular Part R, allow for a role for the Governing Body in support of the Director-General's the selection of the Secretary of the Treaty. However, it is not clear how this role will develop in the future. This will depend on the practice of the Governing Body. But it is to be expected that a proposal will be made to the Governing Body for the appointment of a Secretary, and the appointment will not become effective until such time as the Governing Body has expressed its approval.

Article 20.2(b) performs the function of a catchall provision, given that the Secretary is required to carry any specific tasks that the Governing Body may decide to assign to him or her.

Normally for treaties concluded within the framework of the FAO Constitution, only the official languages of the Organization would be used for the proceedings of the Governing Body. Russian is not one of the official languages of FAO, given that the Russian Federation is not a Member of FAO. In the special case of the Treaty, the negotiators agreed to include Russian as an authentic language given that Russia is already a Party to the CBD, and they expressed their desire to be as complete as possible in providing incentives for the membership coverage of the Treaty.

A particularly important function assigned to the Secretary involves cooperation with “other organizations and treaty bodies”. The Treaty repeatedly emphasizes that the Treaty's implementation must be done in coordination with other international instruments, particularly the CBD.

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