Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development
Vol. 15 No. 58
Monday, 8 October 2001
EIGHTH SESSION OF THE
INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE FOR AN INTERNATIONAL LEGALLY
BINDING INSTRUMENT FOR THE APPLICATION OF THE PRIOR INFORMED CONSENT
PROCEDURE FOR CERTAIN HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS AND PESTICIDES IN
8 – 12 OCTOBER 2001
The eighth session of the
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an International Legally
Binding Instrument for the Application of the Prior Informed Consent
Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in
International Trade (INC-8) opens today at the Food and Agriculture
Organization in Rome, Italy, and will meet until 12 October 2001.
The Rotterdam Convention on the
Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals
and Pesticides in International Trade was adopted at a Conference of
Plenipotentiaries in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on 10 September 1998.
To date, the Convention has been signed by 72 States and the European
Commission, and ratified by 16 States. It will enter into force once
50 instruments of ratification are deposited. Until the Convention’s
first Conference of the Parties (COP), the INC will continue to
provide guidance regarding the implementation of the PIC procedure
during the interim period.
The PIC procedure aims to promote
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.
Delegates to INC-8 will consider, inter
alia: activities of the Secretariat; the work of the Interim
Chemical Review Committee (ICRC); implementation of the interim PIC
procedure; preparation for the COP; and issues arising out of the
Conference of Plenipotentiaries.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PIC PROCEDURE
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. This prompted the development of the International Code of
Conduct for the Distribution and Use of Pesticides by the Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the London Guidelines for the
Exchange of Information on Chemicals in International Trade by the
United Nations Environment Programme (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.
In 1989, both instruments were
amended to include a voluntary PIC procedure to help countries make
informed decisions on the import of chemicals that have been banned or
severely restricted. Managed jointly by the FAO and UNEP, the
voluntary PIC procedure provided a means for formally obtaining and
disseminating the decisions of importing countries on whether they
wish to receive future shipments of such chemicals. The voluntary PIC
procedure was designed to:
help participating countries
learn more about the characteristics of potentially hazardous
chemicals that may be imported;
initiate a decision-making
process on the future import of these chemicals; and
facilitate the dissemination of
these decisions to other countries.
At the United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992,
delegates recognized that while the use of chemicals is essential to
meet social and economic goals, a great deal remains to be done to
ensure their sound management. UNCED adopted Agenda 21, which
contains, in Chapter 19, an international strategy for action on
chemical safety and calls on States to achieve, by the year 2000, the
full participation in and implementation of the PIC procedure,
including possible mandatory applications of the voluntary procedures
contained in the amended London Guidelines and the International Code
In November 1994, the 107th meeting
of the FAO Council agreed that the FAO Secretariat should proceed with
the preparation of a draft PIC convention as part of the FAO/UNEP
programme on PIC in cooperation with other international and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In May 1995, the 18th session
of the UNEP Governing Council adopted decision 18/12, authorizing the
Executive Director to convene, with the FAO, an intergovernmental
negotiating committee (INC) mandated to prepare an international
legally binding instrument for the application of the PIC procedure. A
diplomatic conference for the purpose of adopting and signing such an
instrument was initially scheduled for 1997.
first session of the INC was held from 11–15 March 1996, in
Brussels. More than 194 delegates from 80 governments, the European
Commission (EC), a number of specialized agencies, IGOs and NGOs
participated. INC-1 agreed on the rules of procedure, elected Bureau
members and completed a preliminary review of a draft outline for a
future instrument. Delegates also established a working group to
clarify the groups of chemicals to be included under the instrument.
second session of the INC met from 16–20 September 1996, in Nairobi,
and produced a draft text of the Convention. Delegates agreed that
many facets of the instrument required further consideration and noted
the need for at least one additional negotiating session before the
Convention could be completed.
third session of the INC convened from 26–30 May 1997, in Geneva.
Delegates from 102 countries considered the revised text of draft
articles for the instrument and proposals from several delegations.
Considerable debate centered on the scope of the proposed Convention.
Delegates from over 100 countries attended the fourth session of the
INC from 20–24 October 1997, in Rome. INC-4 considered the revised
text of draft articles for the instrument, as well as proposals by the
US and EC.
fifth session of the INC was held from 9–14 March 1998, in Brussels.
Delegates from over 95 countries made progress on a consolidated draft
text of articles. INC-5 reached agreement on the draft text of the PIC
Convention and a draft resolution on interim arrangements.
THE DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE OF
PLENIPOTENTIARIES: The Conference of
Plenipotentiaries on the Convention on the PIC Procedure was held from
10–11 September 1998, in Rotterdam. Ministers and senior officials
from nearly 100 countries adopted the Rotterdam Convention, the Final
Act of the Conference and the resolution on interim arrangements.
Sixty-one countries signed the Convention and 78 countries signed the
Final Act. The PIC Convention currently covers 31 chemicals,
consisting of 21 pesticides, five severely hazardous pesticide
formulations and five industrial chemicals, but it is expected that
many more chemicals will be added as the provisions of the Convention
The resolution on interim
arrangements provides for continued implementation of the PIC
procedure during the interim period, in line with the new procedures
contained in the Convention. The resolution invites UNEP and the FAO
to convene further INCs during the interim period to oversee the
operation of the interim PIC procedure. Chemicals for which Decision
Guidance Documents (DGDs) were circulated during the original
procedure are subject to the interim procedure. Those chemicals
identified for inclusion, but for which DGDs had not been circulated,
are subject to the interim procedure, once adopted by the INC. The
resolution invites the INC to: establish an interim subsidiary body to
carry out the functions that will be permanently entrusted to the
Chemical Review Committee (CRC); define and adopt PIC regions on an
interim basis; adopt, on an interim basis, the procedures for banned
or severely restricted chemicals; and decide on the inclusion of any
additional chemicals under the interim PIC procedure.
sixth session of the INC was held from 12–16 July 1999, in Rome,
gathering approximately 300 delegates from 121 countries to address
arrangements for the interim period prior to entry into force of the
Convention and implementation of the interim PIC procedure. INC-6
resulted in the adoption of outline draft decisions on the definition
and provisional adoption of PIC regions, the establishment of an
interim CRC and the adoption of draft DGDs for chemicals already
identified for inclusion.
The first session of the Interim Chemical Review Committee (ICRC-1)
took place in Geneva from 21–25 February 2000. The ICRC, consisting
of 29 government-designated experts in chemicals management from the
seven PIC regions, agreed to recommend two chemicals – ethylene
dichloride and ethylene oxide – for inclusion as pesticides in the
interim PIC procedure, and forwarded draft DGDs for those chemicals to
the INC for consideration. ICRC-1 also established a number of task
groups that will work intersessionally on various issues related to
the ICRC’s operational procedures.
seventh session of the INC was held from 30 October to 3 November
2000, in Geneva. Over 230 delegates from 100 countries attended the
meeting, which addressed, inter alia: implementation of the
interim PIC procedure; issues arising out of the Conference of the
Plenipotentiaries; and preparations for the COP, such as
discontinuation of the interim PIC procedure and financial
arrangements. Delegates also adopted DGDs for ethylene dichloride and
ethylene oxide, as well as a policy on contaminants within chemicals.
second session of the ICRC (ICRC-2) was held in Rome from 19–23
March 2001. In light of discussion and adoption of a general policy on
contaminants within chemicals by INC-7, the ICRC considered the draft
decision guidance document on maleic hydrazide. It also addressed:
ICRC operational procedures; inclusion of monocrotophos in the interim
PIC procedure; and the use of regional workshops to strengthen the
links between designated national authorities and the work of the ICRC
and the INC. It also adopted recommendations to the INC on cooperation
and coordination in the submission of notifications of final
regulatory actions, and the review of notifications on monocrotophos
forwarded to the ICRC.
Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Stockholm Convention on
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) was held from 22ï¿½23 May 2001,
in Stockholm, Sweden. The Stockholm Convention sets out control
measures covering the production, import, export, disposal and use of
an initial list of twelve POPs grouped into three categories: 1)
pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor,
mirex and toxaphene; 2) industrial chemicals: hexachlorobenzene (HCB)
and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and 3) unintended byproducts:
dioxins and furans. A total of 91 countries and the EC signed the
Stockholm Convention, while 115 countries and the EC signed the Final
Act of the Conference. At the Conference, Canada submitted the first
instrument of ratification. Since then, nine additional countries have
signed the Convention, with Fiji being the second country to deposit
its instrument of ratification.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
will begin at 10:00 am at FAO Headquarters in Rome. Opening statements
will be heard from Shafqat Kakakhel, Deputy Executive Director of
UNEP, and Louise Fresco, Assistant Director-General of the FAO.