United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

During the 1980s, scientific evidence about the possibility of global climate change led to growing public concern. By 1990, a series of international conferences had issued urgent calls for a global treaty to address the problem.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) responded by establishing an intergovernmental working group to prepare for treaty negotiations. Rapid progress was made, in part because of work by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and by meetings such as the 1990 Second World Climate Conference.

In response to the working group's proposal, the United Nations General Assembly at its 1990 session set up the intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change (INC/FCCC). The INC/FCCC was given a mandate to draft a framework convention and any related legal instruments it considered necessary.

Negotiators from over 150 States met during five sessions between February 1991 and May 1992. They adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on 9 May 1992 at UN Headquarters in New York.

Soon after, at the June 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (known as the Rio "Earth Summit"), the Convention received 155 signatures. Other States have since signed, and a growing number have ratified. The Convention entered into force on 21 March 1994, 90 days after the 50th ratification.

The Conference of the Parties (ratifying States) will hold its first session from 28 March to 7 April 1995 in Berlin. The INC/FCCC, which is continuing with important preparatory work, will then be dissolved and the Conference of the Parties will take over responsibility for the lengthy process of implementing the Convention.


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