Log in

No account? Create an account


Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
The FCTC Treaty
I'm no lawyer. So when I read the following a year or more ago about the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, it didn't mean that much to me.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005. It has since become one of the most widely embraced treaties in UN history and, as of today, has already 167 Parties.

The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic and is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. The Convention represents a milestone for the promotion of public health and provides new legal dimensions for international health cooperation. (emphases added)

A treaty is just an agreement, isn't it? It's usually an agreement between two countries. A peace treaty is an agreement whereby two countries agree to stop fighting, and settle their differences. Something like that. But at the weekend I was listening to Lord Monckton of Brenchley, who said:

It's very serious stuff. And I'll tell you why this is. Because international treaties by their very character are above the mere constitutions of the countries that sign them. And so what happens is that these treaties stand alongside your constitution, but the terms of the treaty take precedence over your own constitution. That's the whole point of treaties. You can't sign a treaty and then say 'Ha ha, I didn't mean it. My constitution says I can get out of it'. There'd be no point in treaties if you could do that.

Monckton wasn't talking about Tobacco Control, of course. He was talking about Climate Control, and the Copenhagen Treaty that he said would be signed at the Copenhagen climate conference next month. But the WHO FCTC and the UN FCCC are both out of the same UN family. They're siblings. The WHO is, after all, simply the Public Health arm of the UN. The difference is that the Copenhagen climate Treaty hasn't been signed yet, but the FCTC treaty has been.

Putting together what Monckton had to say about treaties with the fact that the FCTC is a treaty, it suggests that the FCTC treaty takes precedence over the constitutions of those countries which signed it, and that there's no way of saying 'Ha ha, I didn't mean it. My constitution says I can get out of it'.

And perhaps this begins to explain the extraordinary power that Tobacco Control has acquired in recent years: it comes from the legal status of the FCTC as a binding treaty that overrides the constitutions and internal arrangements of the signatory countries. Perhaps that's where the iron fist of Tobacco Control originates: in international law. In a treaty with 'new legal dimensions'. And when Spain moved last week to harmonise its smoking ban with other European countries, it was to comply with its treaty obligations, about which there could be no democratic debate under Spain's constitution. Treaties override all that.

Speaking in America towards the end of October, Monckton said:

I think it's here in your great nation which I so admire, it's here perhaps at this 11th hour, at the 59th minute and 59th second, you will rise up and stop your president from signing that dreadful treaty - that purposeless treaty - , because there's no problem with the climate...

It may be that Monckton succeeded. The prospect of any treaty being signed in Copenhagen next month is now being talked down. But there doesn't seem to have been any Monckton around in 2003 to warn about the equally dreadful and purposeless FCTC treaty. There wasn't a problem with environmental tobacco smoke either. There was no need for a treaty. It was an equally fictional threat as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But the FCTC treaty was signed, and is now in force, and it is destroying the hospitality industry and the communities around them in every country that was stupid enough to sign it.

  • 1

"there'd be no point in treaties if you could do that,"

but we still can and do violate a treaty whenever we want. Such treaties are more like gentlemanly agreements, violations of which only affect poorer countries who are more likely to be getting money instead of political favors in the exchange. For example, we violated a treaty with Russia made for us by NATO when we moved to put ICBM defense systems in Europe - Russia has been very angry about this until recently when we quietly agreed we'd be quiet about their human rights abuses.

The fact that the people writing and making these treaties are not accountable to any electorate is unnerving, and part of why there's all those G8 protests every time they meet and decide the fate of the third world. So I still think there's cause for concern, but I wouldn't say it's 59th second of the 59th minute of the 11th hour. Only a Brit would be so dramatic.

i thought it was aquestion wether the treaty was political or legal? anyone knows btw what kind the FCTC is?

"Under Article 8.1 of the FCTC, 'Parties recognize that scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability'. Parties therefore agree to adopt and implement, in areas of national jurisdiction [...]), effective legislative, executive, administrative and/or other measures providing for protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, public transport, indoor public places and, as appropriate, other public places. Such protection must be in place five years after the FCTC comes into force for a Party.

The treaty explicitely obliges the "parties to recognize that scientififc evidence has unequivocally established ..."
Science by treaty! In no way are the parties allowed to question the "science" or to add new evidence to the contrary. Because the treaty sais so.


I doubt they could do any more than boot us out of the WHO, but they wouldn't do that because they need us in it.

Civil servants tend to regard our obligations to treaties their Lords and masters have signed (the EU first and foremost, but this will be no different) as more important than us voting on it.

The mandarins are more than happy for us only to vote only once every four or five years and elect either a labour or tory government, who appoint a few ministers to sign these kind of things for them.

anonymous 2: science by treaty, thats just great! thanks for the input :)

anon 1

Not that it'll ever happen, because our politicians are too lily-livered and our public are too apathetic, but what can anyone "in power" actually DO if a country decides not to abide by the restrictions of a Treaty? As posttrainwreck says, they can withdraw hard cash and other kinds of aid from third-world countries but what penalties can they apply (in reality, I mean, not in theory) to bring a first-world country back into line? Clearly, if the treaty in question is one designed to prevent war from breaking out, then military action could ensue (I understand that it was the numerous treaties between countries which, ultimately, led to WWI following the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand), but in the case of health such as this, what penalties are, practically speaking, possible? Perhaps we should put it to the test. Yeah, right, like THAT'S going to happen - I don't think!

It seems it's possible to withdraw from the Treaty. It seems that all you have to do is send them a letter saying so.

Article 31 Withdrawal

1. At any time after two years from the date on which this Convention has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from the Convention by giving written notification to the Depositary.

2. Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal.

3. Any Party that withdraws from the Convention shall be considered as also having withdrawn from any protocol to which it is a Party.

However, since the EU is also a signatory to the treaty, and the EU is very likely to be making its own regulations on smoking sooner or later, you may have to leave the EU as well.

Excellent! Two birds with one stone!


You say that like it's a bad thing. They've just appointed a career quangocrat-come-life peer to high office that has never even stood for election.

I'm getting tempted by UKIP but I still feel it's more important to rid ourselves of this shower of s**t before signing my membership forms.

Re: http://stevenlsplace.blogspot.com/

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Leaving the EU? Well, I used to be fairly pro-EU, but I'm getting more and more anti it these days. I do NOT want the EU superstate we seem to be getting whether we like it or not. The secretive election by 27 people of the President of the Commission is another nail in the coffin. That's democracy, is it?

I do recommend reading this from They're Joking, Aren't They?

Re: http://stevenlsplace.blogspot.com/

The 'career quangocrat' is married to Peter Kellner. The Filthy Smoker at the Devil's Kitchen had a few words to say about him last year:


  • 1