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Vienna Convention of 1985 – Origin, Organizational Structure, Memberships, Activities, Summits and Importance to India

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer aimed to sign the multilateral environmental agreement to protect the Ozone layer. The convention of 1985 was done to help reduce the emission of chlorofluorocarbons, which caused the rapid depletion of the outer ozone layer. The agreement with frameworks for the reduction of CFC was signed on March 22, 1985, in Vienna. 

The United Nations Department On Environment, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) overtook the proceedings and organized the convention. It is the first treaty in United Nations history to be ratified by all members and achieved this rare feat on September 16, 2009.

Origins

Planet Earth aerial view

The Vienna Convention was agreed upon at the Vienna Conference of 1985. 

It was the first international conference to talk about the depletion of the ozone layer, which a group of British researchers first discovered in the 1970s. 

Their research found that the stratospheric layer above the South Pole had a hole approximately as large as the United States was discovered. The hole causes UV rays from the sun to directly fall on earth, causing skin cancer and other diseases for many people. Hence, ozone depletion became a global climate issue. 

Organizations like World Meteorological Organization and United Nations took the initiative and organized the Vienna Conference, followed by the Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer. The agreement became effective on September 22, 1988. It provided the necessary framework to reduce the CFC emission by regulatory measures introduced in the Montreal Protocol. 

The Vienna Convention primarily focused on encouraging scientific efforts and collaboration to monitor and evaluate the state of the ozone layer. Meanwhile, the Montreal Protocol was negotiated as a protocol for the Vienna Convention. 

Organizational structure

The Vienna Convention is under the United Nations Environment Programme and in close collaboration with UN bodies like Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change. The Ozone Secretariat organizes the convention and its following summits and conferences. 

The signatories and ratifiers all work under the guidance and provisions made by the Ozone Secretariat. The secretariat organizes the Conference of Parties (COP) every three years and analyses the development of the research and programs aimed at protecting the Ozone layer. 

The COP meets to discuss the research reports and analyses submitted by inter-governmental experts on the position of Ozone depletion and assess the climate change caused by the depletion. They also direct the nations to introduce new policies and programs to limit CFC emissions, decreasing the ozone depletion rate. 

Membership

The Vienna Convention invites nations all across the globe to be a part of the Conference of Parties and work with UNEP to reduce the CFC emissions. The convention agreement signed by members or parties is not binding and works as a framework to protect the ozone layer.

Member states

The Vienna Convention is the most universal treaty of all time, with ratification from all members of the United Nations. The convention reached universal ratification in 2009, and it is the only convention of its kind in which all the countries involved signed it. 

Along with the 198 members of the United Nations, small independent states like The Holy See, Niue, and Cook Islands also ratified the convention. The European Union has also ratified the treaty and works in its capacity to reduce the emission of CFC.

Observer states

In 2009 all states in United Nations became part of the treaty, ratified it, and pledged to decrease carbon emissions. 

The United Nations, its specialized bodies like IPCC, UNESCO, UNFCCC, UNISEF, and other such bodies, are invited as observers to the Vienna Convention Conference of Parties. International Atomic Energy Agency is also an observer in the COPs. 

The constitution of the Vienna Convention allows anybody or agency, national or international, governmental or non-governmental qualified and related to the field of protection of Ozone layer can enter and participate in COP with the consent of the Ozone Secretariat. These third-party observers can be admitted only with the majority of one-third of COP members won’t object. If one-third of the members object against any agency or body, those parties are not eligible to sit in the COP. Any state that is not a party to the convention can also observe the COP.

Dialogue partners

The international and national NGOs, Organizations, Research Institutes, and such bodies with interest in Climate and Environmental issues can act and participate in the conventions Conference of Parties as dialogue partners.

Guest attendances

The NGOs interested in Ozone Protection and Reduction of CFC emission can attend the Conference of Parties Convention as guest attendances.

Future membership possibilities

When it came into existence, the convention had 28 signatories and 20 ratifications. In 2009 all the nations and states in the UN ratified it, and the treaty became universal. No future membership possibility is thought of unless new states come up on the world map. 

Activities

Cooperation on security

The member states cooperate and collaborate on the security of the ozone layer and call for protection of UV rays hitting directly at the human body.

Economic cooperation

The Vienna Convention and following Montreal Protocol decided to lend money to the under and least developed nations to reduce the emission of CFC. The major stake in ozone depletion was caused by the developed countries that became industrialized and developed by the 1970s.

The United States of America and European Powers are responsible for most CFC emissions. It is their duty to pay and help the third world countries in Asia, Africa, North and South Americas to reduce emissions.

The conference parties made different treaties and agreements on economic cooperation and building a CFC-free development in the developing countries. 

Cultural cooperation

The cultural cooperation between member states aims to reduce the carbon footprint and reduce the Ozone Depletion Substance in the atmosphere.

The states and organizations conduct cultural programs that aim to create awareness about Ozone depletion and even celebrate September 16 as Ozone Day worldwide. The Ozone Day celebration aims to make people think about the issues of climate change and CFC and encourages everyone to be a part of the fight against CFC emission.

Summits

The Vienna Convention agreed upon meeting every three years to evaluate the development Ozone Protection Programme. The Montreal Protocol followed it. The conference of Parties in Vienna Convention meets every three years. The last convention took place at Tashkent in Uzbekistan. 

List of summits

The Conference of Parties (COP) met 12 times in total. The 13th COP is supposed to be held in 2024.

Analysis

The convention aims to decrease ozone-depleting substances and reduce ozone layer depletion and global warming. The works of the convention caused changes in the policies of governments all across the world and encouraged them to turn green to reduce the emission of CFC.

Importance to India

India is a part of the Vienna Convention and a member of its Conference of Parties. India acceded to the convention in1991 and became a part of the Montreal Protocol in 1992. 

The Indian Government’s Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate oversees the programs in India to reduce the emission of CFC. The Government of India has started an Ozone Cell to effectively implement Montreal Protocol and organize seminars, research, and programs on the ozone layer.

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