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50th Anniversary

50th Anniversary of the Agreement on Uniform Technical Prescriptions for Vehicles

Globally harmonized vehicle regulations are key in addressing shared problems like environmental damage and road safety. That was one of the main messages at a recent UNECE Round Table celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Agreement concerning the Adoption of Uniform Technical Prescriptions for Vehicles (The 1958 Agreement).

“In a global world, we need global rules,” said Günter Verheugen, European Commission Vice-President Responsible for Enterprise and Industrys, in a statement addressed to participants. He highlighted the fact that EU is replacing its rules on vehicle regulation with those of UNECE, reducing bureaucratic procedures and allowing the industry to adapt faster to technical developments. “This [Agreement] is a model for successful international collaboration which needs to be copied by other industrial sectors,” he continued.

Around 160 people gathered for a Round Table to mark the anniversary which explored the historical and future significance of the 1958 Agreement through panel presentations. Organized in conjunctionwith the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations 145 th sessions, the Round Table included a varied panel of WP.29 veterans as well as current stakeholders.

Ambassador Alex Van Meeuwen, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Chairman of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, opened the Round Table by welcoming participants and making a general statement about the 1958 Agreement as well as the 1998 parallel Agreement.

Ambassador R. Schweppe, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Office at Geneva, made a historical review of the Agreement and underlined its importance for Germany and for the car industry.

After World War II, the motor vehicle became a major instrument of economic development and social progress. But problems generated by motor vehicles make it necessary to regulate the industry at an international level governing the construction, ownership and use of vehicles – and thus also vehicle construction.

Over the last 50 years, the 1958 Agreement has laid the foundations for vehicle regulations, initially at the regional level, but since 1998, on a global scale. Administered by the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), the existing 127 Regulations are constantly being updated to increase vehicles’ safety and environmental performance.

The framework created by the 1958 Agreement guarantees a certain standard that can be trusted by consumers across national borders. The vehicle industry also benefits from unified standards, as Carlo Sinceri, President of The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), pointed out: “It allows us to maximize the harmonization opportunities and to limit the number of legal technical constraints, since we have the assurance that the technical requirements will be widely recognized and accepted. It therefore also frees the necessary resources for further research and development and product improvements, rather than wasting resources on a multiplication of various contradictory legal requirements.”

Despite achievements to date and the global span of the Agreement, there are great challenges ahead. Increased globalization and the emergence of new economies means the number of vehicles will increase enormously, which will in turn create new safety and environmental difficulties. Furthermore, it is imperative to align national policy decisions with the Global Technical Regulations to facilitate, amongst other things, a smooth and timely transition from older, heavy polluting vehicles, to newer, cleaner fleets.

The Agreement currently has 48 Contracting Parties. The wider the membership, however, the more effective the Regulations will become. When opened to non-UNECE membership, accession by countries such as Japan, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Tunisia boosted the Agreement’s value and relevance. These countries now actively promote the Agreement in their respective regions. China and India, in their statements during the Round Table, both indicated that they are laying the foundations for accession in the future (China is already a Party to the 1998 Agreement).

Through effective and common vehicle regulations, many issues of global concern can be alleviated, albeit not completely resolved. Only an integrated approach that addresses government policies, physical infrastructure, and drivers themselves can address such the problems most efficiently.

TRANS/WP.29/5 - Report of the First Meeting of WP.29 held from 10 - 13 February, 1953
English PDF (416 KB)
French PDF (411 KB)
Russian PDF (492 KB)


B. Gauvin PDF(26 Kb)
Alex Van Meeuwen PDF(30 Kb)
R. Schweppe PDF (29 Kb)
P. Jean PDF (16 Kb)
M. Shima:
PP Presentation
PDF (37 Kb)
PDF (110 Kb)
S. Marathe PDF (1 Mb)
S. Morgan PDF (148 Kb)
T. Akiba PDF (119 Kb)
W. Wei PDF (114 Kb)
C. Sinceri:
PP Presentation
PDF (17 Kb)
PDF (162 Kb)
L. Holmqvist PDF (14 Kb)
A. Bryden PDF (21 Kb)
S. Prikallidas PDF (38 Kb)
Round Table Agenda PDF (109 Kb)
Press Release PDF (57 Kb)
Photos from the Session