Based in Geneva, the United Nations World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) enables government authorities from around the world to cooperate in establishing vehicle performance requirements.
UN members created the Forum to eliminate unnecessary disparities across national standards and to promote international trade and cooperation.
The World Forum regulations concern:
The World Forum does not have enforcement powers and its regulations are not mandatory. Rather, each national or regional authority determines whether to apply each regulation within its territory and enforces compliance in accordance with its own laws.
The Forum does have agreements (see the Goverance section) through which nations and regional economic blocs agree to adhere to certain principles and resolve differences in interpretation or application of the regulations.
For more information, you can consult the World Forum website or go directly to the "WP.29 Blue Book", a document that details the history and procedures of the World Forum. The Blue Book is available in
The World Forum oversees six Working Parties devoted to particular aspects of vehicle and component systems. The working parties meet biannually to develop and approve regulatory proposals within the scope of their expertise. Known as "GR" from their French acronym, these subsidiary bodies focus on:
The GR's consider proposals and eventually send approved proposals to the World Forum for adoption. The GR's also supervise informal working groups of experts that develop draft regulatory texts, including test procedures and performance criteria.
The World Forum operates like a treaty organization. Its members have established three agreements (supplemented by "resolutions") through the UN to govern their cooperation and use of their regulations. These agreements are known informally as the:
Each agreement has its own set of signatories (known as Contracting Parties) and its own procedures and governing rules. The agreements correspond to particular interests of the signatories. The 1958 Agreement focuses on type-approval regulations and the international recognition of such approvals. The 1997 Agreement focuses on vehicle inspection regimes. The 1998 Agreement focuses on test procedures and performance requirements that can be applied regardless of the regulatory regime (e.g., type approval, self-certification).
Any member country of the United Nations and any regional economic integration organization set up by these countries (e.g., the European Union) may participate in the World Forum and may become a contracting party to any of the agreements administered by the World Forum. Each contracting party is represented by a delegation comprised of officials from its regulatory authorities. For example, the EU is represented by officials from the European Commission and the US by officials from NHTSA and the EPA.
UN-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGO), such as industry associations, standards organizations, and advocacy groups, also participate and can submit proposals for consideration.
Only contracting parties vote on the adoption of proposals. Government agencies and NGO's provide input, but do not have any voting rights when it comes to final decisions on the content of the governing agreements or regulatory texts.
Through its three agreements, WP.29 establishes three types of regulations:
UN Regulations establish requirements for use under type-approval regimes where government authorities certify compliance with the regulatory standards (usually through third-party testing) prior to allowing products on the market. These regulations are associated with an international system for the mutual recognition of approvals issued by participating nations. For these nations, UN Regulations take on a mandatory nature since all participants must issue approvals according to identical requirements. However, many nations use UN Regulations without participating in the mutual recognition system.
UN Rules pertain to vehicle inspection procedures. Global Technical Regulations provide test procedures and performance criteria.
In order to manage work undertaken through its three agreements, the World Forum consists of four executive or administrative bodies:
These "administrative committees" are comprised of the signatories to the respective agreements, such that the official government delegations determine the agenda and regulations adopted under each of the agreements.
Proposals are submitted either as "working documents" or "informal documents". Working documents must be submitted 12 weeks prior to each Forum or GR session so that delegations can consider them internally and arrive at WP.29 sessions with official positions. Informal documents are provided for information and discussion purposes or to propose changes to formal working documents.