The International Olive Council was set up in 1959 to administer the succession of international commodity agreements concluded over the past fifty years to defend and promote olive growing, olive oil and table olives.
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The first International Olive Oil Agreement was adopted on 17 October 1955 after negotiations convened in Geneva by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Like all the international commodity agreements, it was legally underpinned by chapter VI of the Havana Charter, which adopted principles to help expand world trade. Its prime aim was to stimulate the international coordination of production, industrialisation and marketing policies in the olive sector and to stabilise and expand trade. It remained in force until September 1963.
The IOC was created in 1959 under this first agreement. Its headquarters were established in Madrid, Spain, where it has been based ever since.
The second International Olive Oil Agreement was operational from October 1963 until December 1979. Like its predecessor, its chief aim was to stabilise and expand trade.
The third agreement entered into force definitively in January 1981 and expired in December 1986.
It was the first international commodity agreement to refer to Resolution I (III) of the United Nations Conference on a Common Fund under the Integrated Programme for Commodities. This Fund was later to play an important part in IOC action.
The 1986 Agreement marked a milestone in the life of the IOC. For the first time ever, the title of the Agreement mentioned not just olive oil but also table olives and incorporated specific references and measures for this product, which had always been overshadowed by olive oil. Technical and promotional activities were also strengthened.
The 2005 Agreement was negotiated at an international conference held in Geneva in April 2005 under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The 2005 Agreement has come a long way from earlier Agreements and incorporates new, innovative features to help the IOC to adapt to the changing demands of the olive sector and society.
It places major emphasis on building closer relations with the private sector and bringing industry and institutional representatives together to work out solutions to concerns and issues in the olive sector. It attaches even more importance to product quality, which is viewed as a key argument in promoting olive oil and table olives to consumers and in helping to balance supply and demand. Last but not least, environmental protection and conservation are considered top priorities to improve the environmental impact of olive growing and the olive/olive oil industry.
The 2005 Agreement remained in force until 31 December 2016.
Since its inception, the International Olive Council has signed three Headquarters Agreements with the Kingdom of Spain, the host country of the Organisation, governing the rights, immunities and privileges of the IOC headquarters, staff and representatives. The current one was signed on 20 November 2007 after the entry into force of the 2005 Agreement.