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International Organizations work towards more effective, inclusive and evidence-based international rule-making as a foundation for the SDGs

How can international organizations ensure that their rule-making activities are fit for purpose for Agenda 2030 for sustainable development? How can they make their norms and standards more effective, and their development more inclusive? What more can international organizations do to promote the implementation of their deliverables? And what tools exist to evaluate “rulemaking” activities?

These are some of the questions that participants in the 5th meeting of international organizations (IOs) – an initiative spearheaded by OECD - discussed. The meeting, co-hosted by the UNECE, ISO and IEC, took place on 12 April 2018, at the Palais des Nations and at the premises of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) respectively in Geneva, Switzerland.

Participation in the meeting included representatives from the Partnership for effective international rule-making (IO partnership), representatives of the Geneva diplomatic community and country delegates from the OECD Regulatory Policy Committee, and representatives from academia. Ms. Kamala Huseynli, of the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan, said that increased cooperation among international organizations should be stepped up. She added that this was especially important for small transition economies since for these members, having to follow partially overlapping, and at times contradicting, processes in different forums was a considerable challenge.

A key focus area in the discussion was the advancement of partnerships action areas.  The most important outcomes of the meeting were:

  • Enhanced understanding of the variety of international instruments, and good practices for their evaluation, implementation and impact;
  • Agreed opportunities for enhanced cooperation among the international organizations present, especially working towards the implementation of Agenda 2030;
  • Agreed next steps: the finalization and launch of a questionnaire to be answered by all participating organizations, to document their rule-making activities.

Previous deliverables of the IO Partnership include: a report on International regulatory co-operation, titled: “The role of international organizations in fostering better rules of globalization” which takes stock of the governance modalities and rule-making practices of some 50 international organizations, and specific studies on the rule-making practices of OECD  IMO  FAOISOOIMLWHO and UNECE.

“International rule-making” -  in this context - is understood broadly, from the design and development of international instruments to their implementation and enforcement. In line with the OECD work and to reflect the breadth of normative activity of IOs, the term “rules” encompasses legal and policy instruments, as well as standards developed by IOs, regardless of their legal effects or attributes and of the nature of the IO. They range from legally binding instruments to different types of non-legally binding instruments and voluntary approaches.