Eight years of the WHO FCTC

On 27 February 2013 the WHO FCTC marks eight years since its entry into force. In May this year it will also be the 10th anniversary of its adoption by the World Health Assembly. The WHO FCTC represents a milestone for the promotion of public health and provides new legal dimensions for international health cooperation.

The passing years have witnessed remarkable developments. There has been a rapid growth in the number of Parties to the Convention – from the 40 ratifications needed for entry into force on 27 February 2005 up to the current membership of 176 Parties. The Convention now covers some 90% of the world’s population.

The development of treaty instruments, vital for implementation work globally, has made vigorous progress since the Conference of the Parties (COP) was established in 2006. Eight articles of the Convention are covered by guidelines that have already been adopted by the COP, with other articles the subject of intergovernmental groups currently mandated by the COP. In addition, the first protocol to the Convention, the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, was adopted by the COP at its fifth session in Seoul in November 2012. The Protocol, an international treaty in its own right, will enter into force 90 days after the deposit of the 40th instrument of ratification.

The reporting system of the Convention, the basis of the global progress reports, is well established and synchronized with the biennial cycle of the regular sessions of the COP. More than 90% of Parties submitted at least one implementation report after the entry into force of the Convention.

Recent years have seen growing political recognition of the role of the WHO FCTC on the global health and development agenda. They have also witnessed the strengthening of cooperation with international partners, including United Nations system organizations, in support of the multisectoral dimension of the treaty and country-level work.

The Parties themselves have been taking extraordinary steps in tobacco control through their implementation of the Convention. Nearly 80% of Parties adopted or strengthened tobacco control legislation after ratifying the WHO FCTC. These achievements are helping to protect the citizens of countries around the world, and are an inspiration to everyone involved in tobacco control.