The environmental issues regarding the transboundary movement of chemicals and their management have resulted in four UN Processes. They are the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC), the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the Basel Convention on Toxic Waste, and a Code of Ethics. In 2006, the first UN Convention
In Dubai Feb 2006, ministers and senior officials from more than 140 countries agreed to a new international agreement called Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). It aims to ensure that chemicals management all over the world is done in a manner that will help reach the target set at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development "to achieve, by 2020, that chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to a minimisation of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment." As the High Level declaration puts it, SAICM represents a commitment “to achieving chemical safety and thereby assisting in fighting poverty, protecting vulnerable groups and advancing public health and human security”. More
Growth in internationally
traded chemicals during the 1960s and 1970s led to increasing concern over pesticides
and industrial chemical use, particularly in developing countries that lacked
the expertise or infrastructure to ensure their safe use.
prompted the development of the International Code of Conduct for the Distribution
and Use of Pesticides by the FAO and the London Guidelines for the Exchange of
Information on Chemicals in International trade by UNEP. Both the Code of Conduct
and the London Guidelines include procedures aimed at making information about
hazardous chemicals more readily available, thereby permitting countries to assess
the risks associated with their use.
The aim is to promote a shared responsibility between exporting and importing
countries in protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects
of certain hazardous chemicals being traded internationally through a voluntary
The PIC Database can be found at
from UNEP at
Latest on PIC Convention from
to the 1992 (UNCED) recognized that the use of chemicals is
essential to meet social and economic goals, but also acknowledged
that a great deal remains to be done to ensure the sound management
of chemicals. Chapter 19 of Agenda 21 contains an international
strategy for action on chemical safety. States were set to
achieve, by the year 2000, the full participation in and implementation
of the PIC procedure.
Rotterdam Convention on PIC:
Rotterdam Convention which covers the Prior Informed Consent
(PIC) procedure, is the first multi-environmental Convention
to be signed since the UN Conference on Environment and Development
(UNCED) in 1992. PIC is an information exchange and notification
procedure. Its aim is to ensure that international shipment
of a chemical that has been banned or severely restricted
in any country in order to protect human health or the environment,
or, severely hazardous pesticide formulations causing health
or environmental problems under conditions of use in developing
countries, do not proceed without the consent of the PIC Designated
National Authority (DNA) in the importing country, based on
prior information on the chemical. Exporting countries are
required to give prior notification to importing countries
of the intended export of a PIC list chemical, and the exporter
has to supply prior information on the nature of the chemical,
its hazards, prevention measures etc (including notifying
their national government). The importing country PIC DNA
evaluates this information then either gives or refuses its
consent as to whether to allow import (or to set conditions
on the import). The exporter is then bound to abide by the
consent decision even if it does not permit import. Exporting
country governments then have a duty to ensure that their
exporters abide by the consent decision and do not export
where consent has been refused.
105 States attended
the 6th International Negotiating Committee meeting to agree:
of the existing voluntary PIC system into the interim PIC system, based on the
legally-binding Convention. The interim system, which is still voluntary, will
carry on until the first Conference of the Parties (COP), once the Convention
has been ratified.
building work in the regions force of the PIC Convention including. The Convention
will enter into force 90 days after the 50th ratification is received, and it
will be legally binding.
work plan of the Joint Secretariat of UNEP Chemicals (industrial
chemicals) and FAO (pesticides).
2002 the Rotterdam Convention, developed
to reduce international trade of dangerous chemicals, has
34 of 50 needed ratifications. The WSSD
Plan reinforced the process and also includes a renewed
global commitment to phase out chemicals that harm human health
and the environment, with a specific target date of 2020.
Article 5 of the
Convention establishes that a ban or severe restriction of a pesticide or chemical
for health or environmental reasons in any two regions will qualify it for the
PIC list (in the voluntary system it was one)
INC6 decided that
the PIC regions should be based on FAO regions for the interim period, inserting
non-FAO member States into the appropriate region to give the following picture:
Asia (23 countries);
Europe (49 countries), Latin America and the Caribbean (33 countries); Near East
(22 countries), North America (2 countries: Canada and US), Southwest Pacific
(16 countries) This means that all bans or severe restrictions in the European
Region, which stretches from Finland to Malta and from the UK to Russia, will
only count as one for the purpose PIC. (but 49 for ratification).
Chemical Review Committee (ICRC)
The Interim Chemical
Review Committee (ICRC) was established as the Convention's
main technical body. Its task is to review and give opinions
on government notifications as contained principally in PIC
Decision Guidance Documents (DGDs) for the listing of new
chemicals and pesticides, as well as for removal of substances
from the PIC list.
ICRC will be based on experts designated by governments but
appointed by the ICRC. Negotiations on numbers from each region
were tense. Developing countries were especially concerned
that experts from developed countries should not dominate
Guidance Documents (DGDs)
It had been agreed
that any chemicals already identified for the voluntary procedure should be brought
into PIC, and a number are waiting to be put on the list. The meeting considered
the Decision Guidance Documents (DGD) for six pesticides and decided:
on Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent: http://www.pic.int/
and toxaphene-agreed to include both. It is thought there
is no present production or trade of either of these pesticides,
but toxaphene is also a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP)
pesticide, and it was recognised that they were business
left over from the voluntary PIC.
dichloride and ethylene oxide-both are nominated as pesticides
but are also industrial chemicals. It was agreed that
the DGDs should make this distinction clearer before they
are included in PIC.
hydrazide-the pesticide is included because of the impurity,
hydrazine. The chemical should be further reviewed and
if appropriate the DGD revised and forwarded to the ICRC.
pesticide (a DuPont herbicide) is banned in Germany, Slovenia
and Sweden, primarily because of concerns of persistence
and leaching from sandy soils to groundwater. It is severely
restricted in Belize. The INC recommended that the basis
of the reported control actions and appropriateness for
its inclusion in PIC be reviewed.
Convention on POPs
POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for
long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate
in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans
in the use of certain chemicals in industry or as pesticides
increased dramatically during the 1960s and 1970s. POPs are
chemical substances that are persistent, bioaccumulate and
pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and
Prior to 1992,
international action on chemicals primarily involved developing tools for risk
assessment and conducting international assessments of priority chemicals
Agenda 21 Chapter
19 on the "Environmentally Sound Management of Toxic Chemicals Including Prevention
of Illegal International traffic in Toxic and Dangerous Products," called for
the creation of an Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS). The Inter-Organization
Programme on the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) was also established to
promote co-ordination among international organizations involved in implementing
In March 1995,
the UNEP Governing Council (GC) invited the IOMC, together with the International
Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) and the IFCS, to initiate an assessment process.
They assessed a short-list of 12 POPs, taking into account the circumstances of
developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The assessments
of the chemicals included available information on their chemistry, sources, toxicity,
environmental dispersion and socio-economic impacts. The IFCS was further invited
to develop recommendations and information on international action).
UN Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) recently concluded
negotiations for a Protocol to the Convention on Long- Range
transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) regarding 16 POPs. On
24 June 1998, 32 countries and the European Community signed
the Protocol, which aims to control, reduce or eliminate discharges,
emissions and losses of POPs.
the production and use of some products outright (aldrin, chlordane, chlordecone,
dieldrin, endrin, hexabromobiphenyl, mirex, toxaphene)
others for elimination at a later stage (DDT, heptachlor, exachlorobenzene, PCBs)
restricts the use of DDT, hCh (including lindane), and PCBs.
countries to reduce their emissions of dioxins, furans, PAhs and hCB below their
1990 levels and provides for best available techniques to cut emissions of these
July 1998 in Montreal, Canada, representatives of over 100
governments gathered to negotiate an international agreement
to minimise emissions and releases of POPs such as DDT and
PCBs into the environment. The negotiations also address the
accumulation of unwanted and obsolete stockpiles of pesticides
and toxic chemicals, particularly in developing countries.
The INC is focusing on a list of twelve POPs grouped into
POPs: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex and toxaphene;
chemical POPs: hexachlorobenzene and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and
that are unintended byproducts: dioxins and furans.
Stockholm Convention, signed into existence in May 2001, calls
for global elimination of POPs. The treaty targets an initial
12 chemicals for phase out and lays out a process for adding
new chemicals that meet agreed criteria for persistence, bioaccumulation
and transportability. 50 countries need to ratify the Stockholm
Convention and there was a challenge to do this for the World
Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg
in September 2002. While this goal was not reached (21 countries
had ratified the Convention at that time), participating nations
at the WSSD did include in their "Plan of Implementation"
specific goals to promote the rapid ratification and implementation
of the Stockholm Convention.
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants:
International POPs Elimination Network: http://www.ipen.org/
Basel Convention on Toxic Waste
regulate the 3 million tons of toxic waste that crosses national
borders each year, countries negotiated the Basel Convention
on hazardous wastes.
Basel Convention was adopted in March 1989 after a series
of notorious "toxic cargoes" from industrialized countries
galvanized world outrage over the dumping of hazardous wastes
in developing and East European Countries. It entered into
force in May 1992.
1998 -- The Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties
to the Basel Convention on the Control of transboundary Movement
of hazardous Wastes and their Disposal continued the battle
to stem and eradicate the "evil cargo" of hazardous wastes.
illegal exports are a crime against mankind and nature and
they must be prosecuted as a criminal act. Intensive co-operation
with Interpol and the UN Commission on human Rights is a must.
There is an urgent need to build the capacity of states to
prevent illegal traffic of hazardous wastes," said UNEP's
Executive Director Mr Klaus Toepfer .
main aim is to change the production pattern, to stimulate
production technologies which decrease the quality and the
hazard of all kinds of waste, we must stimulate clean products
COP 4 established hazardous waste lists.The hazardous Waste
list (A) would ban the export of wastes containing arsenic,
lead, mercury, asbestos, and dozens of other chemicals and
substances. The non-hazardous waste list (B)would exempt from
the ban those wastes that can be safely (and profitably) recycled
or re-used, including scrap iron, steel or copper, certain
electronic assemblies, non-hazardous chemical catalysts, and
many ceramics solid plastics, and paper and textile wastes.
Convention has grown from 30 Contracting Parties in 1992 to
117, five years later,. In 1995 they adopted a ban which goes
beyond final disposal, and covers transboudnary movements
of hazardous wastes from the OECD, the EC, Liechtenstein to
other countries for recovery operation."
enter into force the Ban Amendment has to be ratified by three
fourths of the parties including the United States. Representatives
recommended faster development of a Protocol for Liability
and Compensation for damage resulting from transboundary movement
of hazardous wastes and their disposal. They emphasized that
the main goal of the Basel Convention was environmentally
sound management of hazardous wastes, among other things.
on Basel Convention: http://www.basel.int/
Code of Ethics on the International Trade in Chemicals ("The
Code"), concluded in 1994, represents the commitment
of the world's industries to reduce the risks of chemical
substances to human health and the global environment. Many
provisions contained in the Code call on private sector parties
to take initiatives in ensuring the safety of chemicals throughout
their whole life cycle - to develop safer packaging and clear
and concise labelling, to end the production and trade in
chemicals with unacceptable risks, to reduce the use of hazardous
chemicals, and to take a number of other steps to promote
chemical safety through testing and assessment, quality assurance,
providing safety information, and promoting education and
training for safety purposes.
details of the Code of Ethics in Chemicals: http://irptc.unep.ch/ethics/