Rotterdam Convention: No progress on democratic right to be protected from hazardous substances

Sun, May 7, 2017

0 Comments

Kathleen Ruff, RightOnCanada.ca

The 8th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (COP8) ended on May 5, 2017. It will be two years before the next conference takes place in 2019.

Ever since the Convention came into beginning, the asbestos industry has refused to allow chrysotile asbestos to be put on the Convention’s list of hazardous substances, even though chrysotile asbestos meets all the criteria for listing. At COP 8, once again, a handful of countries, led by asbestos exporters, Russia and Kazakhstan, simply refused to allow the rights contained in the Convention to be implemented by refusing consensus.

Frustrated by the asbestos industry’s endless sabotage of the Convention, a group of twelve African countries put forward an amendment to the Convention at COP8 that would allow a 3/4 majority vote to take the decision to list a hazardous substance, when consensus proves impossible. This amendment would end the ability of a small group of countries to sabotage the Convention in order to protect industry profits.

Countries did not vote on the African amendment at COP8. Instead they officially noted “the different options for enhancing the effectiveness of the Rotterdam Convention, including improving the prior informed consent procedure (and) improving the listing process” and requested the Secretariat “to develop an online survey to gather information on priority actions to enhance the effectiveness of the Convention.” They established a working group with membership composed of representatives from Parties “to identify, on the basis of the report and comments received  a set of prioritized recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of the Convention, and develop a report identifying further steps for consideration by the Conference of the Parties at its ninth meeting.”

In other words, after a decade of sabotage of the Convention and failure to take action to address the sabotage, the Parties to the Convention will spend another two years discussing the problem and will “consider” the problem at the next conference in 2019.

This endless failure to act sends a message that the double standard continues to rule in the world and that the lives of populations in the Global South are provided lesser rights to be protected from harm from hazardous substances than the rest of the world.

In addition to chrysotile asbestos, the listing of carbosulfan, fenthion, and a paraquat formulation was blocked by a small number of countries.

Continue reading...
Older Entries Newer Entries