The Nagoya Protocol comprises measures to create predictable conditions for a dual purpose: accessing genetic resources, and sharing of benefits from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge (aTK).
The Protocol stipulates that Prior Informed Consent (PIC) with the custodians of genetic resources and aTK is a prerequisite for adequate access. Before access is actually granted, Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) between the parties need to be fixed and based on clear rules and procedures.
But who monitors that PIC and MAT are being recognized and enforced even after the genetic resources have left the country of origin?
The Protocol's answer is an international Compliance Mechanism with the aim to prevent misappropriation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. Specific measures are provided in Articles 15 and 16 of the Nagoya Protocol.
Assuming that all Parties are users and providers at the same time ― certainly true for industrialized countries but also for emerging economies and a number of developing countries ―, Article 17 of the Nagoya Protocol requires the designation of at least one national checkpoint monitoring the utilization of genetic resources.
Access permits transmitted by Competent National Authorities to the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Clearing-House are internationally recognized certificates of compliance. These serve as evidence that genetic resources have been acquired based on PIC and MAT.
The ABS Clearing-House is currently being established and will be hosted by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Once operational, it will facilitate the monitoring burdens of the national checkpoints.
The task of checkpoints is to "collect and receive ...relevant information" related to PIC, MAT, the source of the genetic resource, including associated traditional knowledge, and its utilization. The checkpoints are essentially information brokers for the national ABS process.
Many countries are in the process of identifying appropriate checkpoints and developing regulatory systems which effectively implement the compliance measures of the Nagoya Protocol.