Toolkit for Women

Introduction

Current and Upcoming Issues

UN Documents

Other Intergovernmental Forums

NGO Documents

Other Major Groups Documents

News & Information

Good Practices

Action

Training

Networking Opportunities

Links

Partners

Search

Feedback

Acronyms & Glossary

[ Download the Glossary as TXT or PDF file ]

ACC Administrative Committee on Co-ordination
Agreement The term "agreement" can have a generic and a specific meaning. It also has acquired a special meaning in the law of regional economic integration. 
(a) Agreement as a generic term: The 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties employs the term "international agreement" in its broadest sense. On the one hand, it defines treaties as "international agreements" with certain characteristics. On the other hand, it employs the term "international agreements" for instruments, which do not meet its definition of "treaty". Its Art.3 refers also to "international agreements not in written form". Although such oral agreements may be rare, they can have the same binding force as treaties, depending on the intention of the parties. An example of an oral agreement might be a promise made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of one State to his counterpart of another State. The term "international agreement" in its generic sense consequently embraces the widest range of international instruments. 
(b) Agreement as a particular term: "Agreements" are usually less formal and deal with a narrower range of subject matter than "treaties". There is a general tendency to apply the term "agreement" to bilateral or restricted multilateral treaties. It is employed especially for instruments of a technical or administrative character, which are signed by the representatives of government departments, but are not subject to ratification. Typical agreements deal with matters of economic, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation. Agreements also frequently deal with financial matters, such as avoidance of double taxation, investment guarantees or financial assistance. The UN and other international organizations regularly conclude agreements with the host country to an international conference or to a session of a representative organ of the Organization. Especially in international economic law, the term "agreement" is also used as a title for broad multilateral agreements (e.g. the commodity agreements). The use of the term "agreement" slowly developed in the first decades of this century. Nowadays by far the majority of international instruments are designated as agreements. 
(c) Agreements in regional integration schemes: Regional integration schemes are based on general framework treaties with constitutional character. International instruments that amend this framework at a later stage (e.g. accessions, revisions) are also designated as "treaties". Instruments that are concluded within the framework of the constitutional treaty or by the organs of the regional organization are usually referred to as "agreements", in order to distinguish them from the constitutional treaty. For example, whereas the Treaty of Rome of 1957 serves as a quasi-constitution of the European Community, treaties concluded by the EC with other nations are usually designated as agreements. Also, the Treaty of Montevideo of 1980 established the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA), but the subregional instruments entered into under its framework are called agreements.
http://untreaty.un.org/english/guide.asp
AOSIS The Alliance of Small Island States, with 42 members and observers
BCSB Business Council for Sustainable Development
Bureau Bureaux of Commissions of Preparatory Processes are composed of the Chair or Co-Chairs and representatives of the five regional groupings of member states
CSocDev UN Commission on Social Development
CAN Climate Action Network
CBD Convention on Biological Diversity
CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
CEDAW Committee Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
Chair Chairs / chairpersons are responsible for facilitating progress in the work of a meeting or body
Charter The term "charter" is used for particularly formal and solemn instruments, such as the constituent treaty of an international organization. The term itself has an emotive content that goes back to the Magna Carta of 1215. Well-known recent examples are the Charter of the United Nations of 1945 and the Charter of the Organization of American States of 1952.
http://untreaty.un.org/english/guide.asp
CHS UN Commission on Human Settlements
CITES UN Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species
COP Conference of the Parties; regularly held meetings of those States which have signed a Convention and hence are "Parties to the Convention"
Consultative Status Non-governmental, non-profit public or voluntary organizations may be admitted into a mutually beneficial working relationship with the United Nations by attaining consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This status was based on Article 71 of the Charter of the United Nations. Article 71 of the Charter provides that "...the Economic and Social Council may make suitable arrangements for consultations with non-governmental organizations which are concerned with matters within its competence". The rights and privileges enumerated in detail in ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 enable qualifying organizations to make a contribution to the work programmes and goals of the United Nations by serving as technical experts, advisers and consultants to governments and the UN Secretariat. Sometimes, as advocacy groups, they espouse UN themes, implementing plans of action, programmes and declarations adopted by the United Nations. In concrete terms this entails their participation in ECOSOC and its various subsidiary bodies through attendance at meetings, and also through oral interventions and written statements on agenda items of those bodies. In addition, organizations, qualifying for General Category consultative status, may propose new items for consideration by ECOSOC. Organizations granted status are also invited to attend international conferences called by the UN, General Assembly special sessions, and other intergovernmental bodies (The participation modalities for NGOs are governed by the rules of procedure of those bodies).
http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ngo/faq.htm
Convention The term "convention" again can have both a generic and a specific meaning. 
(a) Convention as a generic term: Art.38 (1) (a) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice refers to "international conventions, whether general or particular" as a source of law, apart from international customary rules and general principles of international law and - as a secondary source - judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists. This generic use of the term "convention" embraces all international agreements, in the same way as does the generic term "treaty". Black letter law is also regularly referred to as "conventional law", in order to distinguish it from the other sources of international law, such as customary law or the general principles of international law. The generic term "convention" thus is synonymous with the generic term "treaty". 
(b) Convention as a specific term: Whereas in the last century the term "convention" was regularly employed for bilateral agreements, it now is generally used for formal multilateral treaties with a broad number of parties. Conventions are normally open for participation by the international community as a whole, or by a large number of states. Usually the instruments negotiated under the auspices of an international organization are entitled conventions (e.g. Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969). The same holds true for instruments adopted by an organ of an international organization (e.g. the 1951 ILO Convention concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value, adopted by the International Labour Conference or the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the General Assembly of the UN). 
http://untreaty.un.org/english/guide.asp
CPD UN Commission on Population & Development
CSD UN Commission on Sustainable Development
CSD Intersessional The official between-sessions meetings of the CSD
CSW UN Commission on the Status of Women
DAW (UN) Division for the Advancement of Women
Declaration The term "declaration" is used for various international instruments. However, declarations are not always legally binding. The term is often deliberately chosen to indicate that the parties do not intend to create binding obligations but merely want to declare certain aspirations. An example is the 1992 Rio Declaration. Declarations can however also be treaties in the generic sense intended to be binding at international law. It is therefore necessary to establish in each individual case whether the parties intended to create binding obligations. Ascertaining the intention of the parties can often be a difficult task. Some instruments entitled "declarations" were not originally intended to have binding force, but their provisions may have reflected customary international law or may have gained binding character as customary law at a later stage. Such was the case with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  http://untreaty.un.org/english/guide.asp
DPI (UN) Department of Public Information
EC European Commission
ECA (UN) Economic Commission for Africa
ECE (UN) Economic Commission for Europe and North America
ECLAC (UN) Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean
ECOSOC (UN) Economic & Social Council
EFITA European Federation of Information Technology in Agriculture
EIT Countries with Economies in Transition, i.e., those in Central and Eastern Europe
ESCAP (UN) Economic & Social Commission for Asia & the Pacific
ESCWA (UN) Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia
EU European Union
FAO (UN) Food & Agriculture Organisation
FDI Foreign Direct Investment
G-77 & China The Group of 77 and China was the original group of the so-called non-aligned states. It is in effect the negotiating bloc of the negotiating countries and seeks to harmonize the negotiating positions of its over 140 developing-country members
GA (UN) General Assembly
GATT Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GC Governing Council - governing bodies of many UN Agencies, such as UNEP, and their meetings
GEF The Global Environment Facility. The multi-billion-dollar GEF was established by the World Bank, the UN Development Programme, and the UN Environment Programme in 1990 to fund environmental programmes, especially in the South and the EIT 
Gender Mainstreaming "Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality." (E.1997.L.10.Para.4. Adopted by ECOSOC 17.7.97)
GHG Green House Gases
GPA Global Programme of Action
High Level Segment The Ministerial-level part of a meeting where most significant issues are debated
IACSD UN Inter Agency Committee on Sustainable Development
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
ICC International Chamber of Commerce
ICLEI International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives
ICPD International Conference on Population & Development, Cairo 1994
IFAP International Federation of Agricultural Producers
IFF Inter-governmental Forum on Forests
IGO Inter-Governmental Organisation
IIED International Institute for Environmental Development
ILO International Labour Organisation
IMF International Monetary Fund
ISO International Standards Organisation
IUCN International Council for the Conservation of Nature
IULA International Union of Local Authorities
JUSSCANNZ The non-EU industrialized countries meet as a group to discuss various issues; they are Japan, the US, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Norway, and New Zealand. Iceland, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea may also attend meetings
MAI Multi-lateral Agreement on Investments
Major Groups The term used in Agenda 21 to describe nine sectors of society fundamental to achieving sustainable development. The Major Groups are: Women, Children and Youth, Indigenous People, Non-governmental Organizations, Local Authorities, Workers and Trade Unions, Business and Industry, Scientific and Technological Communities, and Farmers
MAP Mediterranean Action Plan
MARPOL International Convention for the Protection of Pollution from Ships
MEA Multi-lateral Environmental Agreement
Member State A nation that is a member of the United Nations
Multi-stakeholder processes Processes which aim to bring together all major stakeholders in a new form of decision-finding (and possibly decision-making) structure on a particular issue. They are also based on recognition of the importance of achieving equity and accountability in communication between stakeholders, involving equitable representation of three or more stakeholder groups and their views. They are based on democratic principles of transparency and participation, and aim to develop partnerships and strengthened networks between stakeholders. Multi-stakeholder processes (MSPs) cover a wide spectrum of structures and levels of engagement. They can comprise of dialogue (e.g. the CSD stakeholder dialogues), or grow into processes encompassing consensus-building, decision-making and implementation. The exact nature of any MSP will depend the issue, the participants, the time-frame, etc. 
See UNED Forum's work on MSPs at www.earthsummit2002.org/msp
NAFTA North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement
NGLS UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service
NGO Non-Government Organisation - any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group that is organized on a local, national or international level. NGOs perform a variety of services and humanitarian functions, bring citizens' concerns to Governments, monitor policies and encourage political participation at the community level
North The current widely used term to describe developed, industrialised countries
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development
OEEC Organisation for European Economic Co-operation
Plenary A meeting of all participants at a meeting, where formal decisions are taken
POPs Persistent Organic Pollutants
Protocol

The term "protocol" is used for agreements less formal than those entitled "treaty" or "convention". The term could be used to cover the following kinds of instruments: 
(a) A Protocol of Signature is an instrument subsidiary to a treaty, and drawn up by the same parties. Such a Protocol deals with ancillary matters such as the interpretation of particular clauses of the treaty, those formal clauses not inserted in the treaty, or the regulation of technical matters. Ratification of the treaty will normally ipso facto involve ratification of such a Protocol.
(b) An Optional Protocol to a Treaty is an instrument that establishes additional rights and obligations to a treaty. It is usually adopted on the same day, but is of independent character and subject to independent ratification. Such protocols enable certain parties of the treaty to establish among themselves a framework of obligations that reach further than the general treaty and to which not all parties of the general treaty consent, creating a "two-tier system". The Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 are well-known examples.
(c) A Protocol based on a Framework Treaty is an instrument with specific substantive obligations that implements the general objectives of a previous framework or umbrella convention. Such protocols ensure a more simplified and accelerated treaty-making process and have been used particularly in the field of international environmental law. An example is the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer adopted on the basis of Arts.2 and 8 of the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer.
(d) A Protocol to amend is an instrument that contains provisions that amend one or various former treaties, such as the Protocol of 1946 amending the Agreements, Conventions and Protocols on Narcotic Drugs. 
(e) A Protocol as a supplementary treaty is an instrument that contains supplementary provisions to a previous treaty, e.g. the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. 
(f) A Proces-Verbal is an instrument that contains a record of certain understandings arrived at by the contracting parties. 
http://untreaty.un.org/english/guide.asp

Side Event An open, lunchtime or evening event at an official meeting, (e.g. panel discussion) usually related to the issues being negotiated
SIDS Small Island Developing States, especially important in relation to the Barbados Plan of Action for SIDS
South The current widely-used term to describe developing countries
Square brackets Used during negotiations to indicate that a section of text is being discussed but hasn’t been agreed
Stakeholders Stakeholders are those individuals or groups who have a stake in a certain policy or decision – they are impacting the decision or policy and/or are affected by it. Agenda 21 recognises nine stakeholder groups (so-called “Major Groups”, see below), and women are one of them.
Sustainable Development Can be defined as development that allows the present generation to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Sustainable development needs to balance three goals: environmental protection, healthy economic growth, and social equity
Treaty The term "treaty" can be used as a common generic term or as a particular term that indicates an instrument with certain characteristics. 
(a) Treaty as a generic term: The term "treaty" has regularly been used as a generic term embracing all instruments binding in international law concluded between international entities, regardless of their formal designation. Both the 1969 Vienna Convention and the 1986 Vienna Convention confirm this generic use of the term "treaty". The 1969 Vienna Convention defines a treaty as "an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation". The 1986 Vienna Convention extends the definition of treaties to include international agreements involving international organizations as parties. In order to speak of a "treaty" in the generic sense, an instrument has to meet various criteria. First of all, it has to be a binding instrument, which means that the contracting parties intended to create legal rights and duties. Secondly, the instrument must be concluded by states or international organizations with treaty-making power. Thirdly, it has to be governed by international law. Finally the engagement has to be in writing. Even before the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the word "treaty" in its generic sense had been generally reserved for engagements concluded in written form. 
(b) Treaty as a specific term: There are no consistent rules when state practice employs the terms "treaty" as a title for an international instrument. Usually the term "treaty" is reserved for matters of some gravity that require more solemn agreements. Their signatures are usually sealed and they normally require ratification. Typical examples of international instruments designated as "treaties" are Peace Treaties, Border Treaties, Delimitation Treaties, Extradition Treaties and Treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Cooperation. The use of the term "treaty" for international instruments has considerably declined in recent decades in favour of other terms.
http://untreaty.un.org/english/guide.asp
UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment & Development, Rio 1992
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade & Development
UNDESA United Nations Department on Economic & Social Affairs
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNDPCSD United Nations Division for Policy Co-ordination for Sustainable Development
UNDSD United Nations Division for Sustainable Development
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation
UNFCCC United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention
UNGASS United Nations General Assembly Special Session
WB World Bank
WBCSD World Business Council for Sustainable Development
WEDO Women's Environment & Development Organisation
WHO World Health Organisation
Working Group A sub-group of, for example a UN Commission, tasked with drafting language for the final documents
WSSD World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen 1995
WTO World Tourism Organisation
WTO World Trade Organisation
WTTC World Travel & Tourism Organisation

 [ Download the Glossary as TXT or PDF file ]

 

[ Home ]          [ E-mail ]          [ Site Map ]

Go to UNED Forum