The English text of the UNWTO Convention on Tourism Ethics, the first convention of the Organization, was approved by A/RES/707(XXII) during the 22nd General Assembly which took place in Chengdu, China in September 2017.
In 2015, the World Committee on Tourism Ethics submitted to the General Assembly of the UNWTO a proposal to convert the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, UNWTO’s main policy document, into an international convention in order to reinforce its effectiveness.
Consequently, by Resolution 668 (XXI) the UNWTO General Assembly (Medellin, Colombia, 12-17 September 2015) entrusted the UNWTO Secretary-General to establish a special Working Group to examine the procedures and implications of adopting such a Convention in cooperation with the World Committee on Tourism Ethics.
The Working Group, composed by representatives of 36 UNWTO Member States, held five meetings since it was created at the beginning of 2016. It examined the original draft text of the Convention and revised article by article and section by section.
As part of its deliberations, the Working Group agreed not to make substantial changes to the nine core principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism as these were already accepted by the UNWTO General Assembly in 1999 and are widely known by the international Tourism community: These nine articles are reproduced in the Draft Convention on Tourism Ethics under the section “Ethical Principles in Tourism” and constitute the backbone of the Convention.
The 105th session of the UNWTO Executive Council endorsed the approach of avoiding any unnecessary changes to the nine core principles of the Global Code of Ethics in order to finalize a draft text of the Convention for its consideration by the General Assembly (CE/DEC/7(CV) Madrid, Spain, 10-12 May 2017).
The proposed draft text of the Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics was submitted to the 22nd session of the General Assembly for its consideration and was approved by A/RES/707(XXII). The Framework Convention will be officially adopted once the approved English text is available in all five official languages of the Organization. This would be the first International Convention to be adopted under the aegis of UNWTO.
UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics
The Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics has been built around the nine core principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. In order to frame these principles in the classical structure of an international treaty, several provisions have been adapted.
- The Preamble of the text is inspired by that of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, although updated to the current international context and purpose of the proposed Convention.
- Part I of the Convention includes the General Provisions which contextualise the text by outlining the key terminology, the aim and scope of the provisions of the Convention as well as the means of implementation.
- Part II is dedicated to the Ethical Principles in Tourism which constitute the backbone of the Convention.
- Part III on the World Committee on Tourism Ethics refers to the mandate, composition and functioning of this subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly in the context of the Convention.
- The two final sections of the Convention contain standard provisions of international treaties, namely Part IV addresses the Conference of States Parties and Part V features the Final Provisions regulating procedures for signature, ratification, acceptance, approval and accession.
- The Optional Protocol annexed to the Convention is a separate instrument that States Parties to the Convention can decide to ratify or not; it consists of a voluntary conciliation mechanism concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention.
Steps undertaken prior to its approval
The English text of the UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics, the first convention of the Organization, was approved by A/RES/707(XXII) during the 22nd General Assembly which took place in Chengdu, China, in September 2017.
Following the third meeting of the Working Group, held on 12-13 May, the revised draft text of the Convention was circulated to all UNWTO Member States and submitted to the 22nd General Assembly of the UNWTO (Chengdu, China, September 2017) for examination and possible adoption.
Member States were invited to submit written comments and amendments to the text by 14 August 2017 for the Working Group Members to study prior to the General Assembly.
The Special Guidelines prepared for this purpose indicated that amendments should be concise and clearly specify the article and paragraph they refer to as well as the proposed action, including any alternative text. Except when an amendment is self-explanatory, it may be accompanied by a note of not more than 50 words to facilitate better understanding or clarify the scope of the amendment.
Against this backdrop, a virtual meeting of the Working Group took place on 24 August 2017, followed by a final meeting of the Working Group prior to the General Assembly in Chengdu, China (11-12 September 2017).
The General Assembly appointed an ad hoc Committee entrusted with the review of the final text of the Convention. This Committee met on the 13 and 14 of September 2017 in Chengdu, China, and submitted the text to the General Assembly on 15 September 2017, for consideration and approval or adoption.