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Summary report, 6–11 September 1999

3rd Session of the INC for an International Legally Binding Instrument for Implementing International Action on Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

The third session of the International Negotiating Committee (INC-3) for an International Legally Binding Instrument for Implementing International Action on Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) was held from 6-11 September 1999 in Geneva, Switzerland. Delegates from over 110 countries, as well as representatives from UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and industry, convened to continue preparation of an international legally binding instrument on an initial list of 12 POPs grouped into three categories: 1) pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex and toxaphene; 2) industrial chemicals: hexachlorobenzene and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and 3) unintended byproducts: dioxins and furans.

INC-3 made advances on language for articles on measures to reduce or eliminate releases, national implementation plans, the process for adding chemicals, and information exchange, and continued discussion on technical and financial assistance. It also made great strides in placing chemicals in the prohibition and restriction annexes. A legal drafting group completed text on 15 procedural articles of the convention. While INC-3 built upon the successes of INC-2, the pace of progress slowed a bit as divergent positions hindered movement on several key issues such as obligations and technical and financial assistance. This change from INC-2 indicates that delegates have now shifted gears from discussing general concepts and framing the issues to negotiating the actual text of a future convention to manage, reduce and/or eliminate certain persistent organic pollutants.


During the 1960s and 1970s, the use of certain chemicals in industry and as pesticides increased dramatically. Many of these chemicals are important to modern society but can also pose a serious threat to human health and the environment. In particular, a certain category of chemicals known as POPs has recently attracted international attention due to a growing body of scientific evidence indicating that exposure to very low doses of certain POPs can lead to cancer, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, diseases of the immune system, reproductive disorders and interference with normal infant and child development. POPs are chemical substances that persist, bioaccumulate and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. With the further evidence of the long-range transport of these substances to regions where they have never been used or produced, and the consequent threats they now pose to the environment worldwide, the international community has called for urgent global action to reduce and eliminate their release into the environment.

Prior to 1992, international action on chemicals primarily involved developing tools for risk assessment and conducting international assessments of priority chemicals, including the UNEP London Guidelines for the Exchange of Information on Chemicals in International Trade and the FAO International Code of Conduct for the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. In 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) adopted Agenda 21, which called for the creation of an Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS). Agenda 21 also called for the establishment of the Inter-Organization Programme on the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) to promote coordination among international organizations involved in implementing the actions delineated in Chapter 19, “Environmentally Sound Management of Toxic Chemicals Including Prevention of Illegal International Traffic in Toxic and Dangerous Products.”

In March 1995, the UNEP Governing Council (GC) adopted Decision 18/32 inviting the IOMC, the IFCS and the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) to initiate an assessment process regarding an initial list of 12 POPs. In response to this invitation, the IFCS convened an Ad Hoc Working Group on POPs that developed a workplan for assessing these substances. The assessments included available information on the chemistry, sources, toxicity, environmental dispersion and socioeconomic impacts of the 12 POPs.

In June 1996, the Ad Hoc Working Group convened a meeting of experts in Manila, the Philippines, and concluded that sufficient information existed to demonstrate the need for international action to minimize the risks from the 12 POPs, including a global legally binding instrument. The meeting forwarded a recommendation to the UNEP GC and the World Health Assembly that immediate international action be taken. In February 1997, the UNEP GC adopted Decision 19/13C endorsing the conclusions and recommendations of the IFCS. The GC requested that UNEP, together with relevant international organizations, prepare for and convene an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) with a mandate to develop, by the year 2000, an international legally binding instrument for implementing international action, beginning with the 12 specified POPs. The first meeting of the INC was also requested to establish an expert group for the development of science-based criteria and a procedure for identifying additional POPs as candidates for future international action.

INC-1: The first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1) was held from 29 June-3 July 1998 in Montreal, Canada. Delegates voiced their determination to tackle what is universally acknowledged as a very real and serious threat to human health and the environment. INC-1 elected bureau members and considered its programme of work, as well as possible elements for inclusion in an international legally binding instrument. INC-1 requested the Secretariat to prepare a document for INC-2 containing material for possible inclusion in an international legally binding instrument based on discussions at INC-1 and government and NGO submissions received by September 1998.

INC-1 also established a Criteria Expert Group (CEG), as well as a working group on implementation aspects of a future instrument, such as those related to technical and financial assistance. INC-1 established the CEG as an open-ended technical working group mandated to elaborate proposals for science-based criteria and a procedure for identifying additional POPs as candidates for future international action to be presented to the INC at or before its fourth session. INC-1 directed the CEG to incorporate criteria pertaining to persistence, bioaccumulation, toxicity and exposure in different regions taking into account the potential for regional and global transport, including dispersion mechanisms for the atmosphere and the hydrosphere, migratory species and the need to reflect possible influences of marine transport and tropical climates.

CEG-1: The first session of the Criteria Expert Group (CEG-1) was held from 26-30 October 1998 in Bangkok, Thailand. Over 100 delegates from approximately 50 countries gathered to consider the CEG’s programme of work. Delegates considered the development of a procedure for identifying additional POPs, including the information required at different stages of the procedure and who would nominate, screen and evaluate a substance as a potential future POPs candidate.

INC-2: The second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2) was held from 25-29 January 1999 in Nairobi, Kenya. After general discussion in Plenary on the Secretariat-prepared expanded outline of an international legally binding instrument, delegates divided into Negotiation and Implementation Groups. In the Negotiation Group, delegates completed preliminary discussions on measures to reduce or eliminate releases of POPs into the environment, identified by many as the pivotal article of the future POPs convention. The general discussion held in the Implementation Group resulted in an initial consensus on possible capacity-building activities requiring technical and financial assistance that will provide the basis for developing articles on these issues. A contact group on annexes also met to begin placing the POPs into annexes for prohibited production and use, chemicals with restricted production and use, and chemicals subject to certain release reporting and release reduction or elimination measures.

CEG-2: The second session of the Criteria Expert Group (CEG-2) met from 14-18 June 1999 in Vienna, Austria. Approximately 140 participants representing 60 countries attended the meeting to build upon the work of CEG-1 in the development of scientific criteria and a procedural process for adding other POPs to the initial list of the 12 identified for global action. The CEG succeeded in completing its work in two rather than three sessions, well ahead of its deadline, as agreement was quickly reached on many key issues. The proposed procedure for adding new POPs provides for establishment of a review committee or committees to apply screening criteria and prepare a risk profile and risk management evaluation for proposed substances. The purpose of the risk profile is to evaluate whether the substance is likely to lead to significant adverse human health and/or environmental effects as a result of its long-range environmental transport. The final report states that a party submitting a proposal for listing substances shall identify the substance and provide information relating to the criteria detailed in an annex. Provisions were included to address the procedure when, for example, the screening criteria are not fulfilled or a risk profile determines that the proposal should not proceed. The final report was forwarded to INC-3 for consideration.


INC Chair John Buccini (Canada) opened the third session on Monday morning, 6 September 1999. During the course of the week, delegates met in plenary sessions and various working groups. On Monday and Tuesday, 6-7 September, delegates met in four plenary sessions and held general discussion on measures to reduce or eliminate releases of POPs into the environment. On Wednesday, 8 September, delegates divided into Negotiation and Implementation Groups that met in parallel sessions. The Negotiation Group, chaired by Buccini, considered articles on: measures to reduce or eliminate releases of POPs (Article D); national implementation plans (Article E); criteria and procedure for adding additional POPs (Article F); and information exchange (Article G). The Implementation Group, chaired by Maria Cristina Cardenas Fischer (Colombia), met in seven sessions and addressed technical assistance and financial assistance and mechanisms. A Bureau for the Implementation Group was established, comprised of: Karel Bláha (Czech Republic), Shantanu Consul (India), Soki Kue-di-kuenda (Angola) and Manfred Schneider (Austria). On Monday, 6 September, the Plenary established a Legal Drafting Group, chaired by Patrick Szell (UK). The Legal Drafting Group met throughout the week in parallel with the Plenary and other groups and addressed standard procedural articles (Articles L-Z). A number of contact groups also met throughout the week on prohibition and restriction, byproducts, new substances, adverse effects, and the procedure for adding new chemicals. Delegates met in morning Plenary sessions each day to hear progress reports on the work of the various groups. These groups based their work on the Secretariat’s draft text, as contained in the report of INC-2 (UNEP/POPS/INC.2/6).


Philippe Roch, State Secretary, Director of the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape, welcomed delegates and underscored the importance of global cooperation to address POPs. He called for solidarity and a global effort to stop POPs production and eliminate existing stocks. Roch also emphasized the need to add other substances to the convention and to apply pressure on industry to stop development and production of additional POPs. He underscored that exceptions for use of POPs should only be permitted in cases where public interest is served, such as the use of DDT to control malaria. In closing, he noted Switzerland’s offer to fund the first conference of the parties to be held in a developing country.

Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP, remarked that the INC is at a critical point in the negotiations and emphasized that it is time to develop specific control measures and set deadlines for the 12 POPs. He stressed that no country is immune to POPs, that no country acting alone can address POPs and that every country will benefit from participating in global action. While underscoring the need to reduce and eliminate DDT releases, he emphasized this should not be at the expense of lives lost to malaria and called for further development of alternative methods to control the disease.

Chair Buccini then introduced and delegates adopted the provisional agenda (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/1). He presented the planned organization of work contained in a Secretariat's note (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/INF/7). By the end of INC-3, Buccini expected to have several articles in “good shape,” including those on: measures to reduce or eliminate releases of POPs; national implementation plans; information exchange; public information; and research, development and monitoring. He also hoped to develop draft text for articles on the process of adding new chemicals to the convention, technical assistance, and financial assistance and mechanisms.

Jim Willis, UNEP Chemicals, introduced the meeting reports, meeting documents and information documents. He highlighted two meeting documents prepared at the request of INC-2: an analysis of selected conventions covering the 10 intentionally produced POPs (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/2); and definitional issues relating to POPs-disposal, destruction, wastes and stockpiles (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/3). On the review of ongoing international activities relating to the INC’s work, Willis reported on the updated master list of actions on the reduction and/or elimination of the releases of POPs (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/INF/9). Noting that UNEP had drawn up the list to avoid duplicating efforts, ensure efficient resource use and facilitate coordination and cooperation among countries and organizations, he emphasized the high number of countries responding to the Secretariat’s request for updated information on assessment and monitoring, regulatory information and activities directly addressing POPs. Outlining a new phase of UNEP activities on POPs, he highlighted two regional workshops held this year, organization of a comprehensive series of training workshops for late 1999 and 2000, availability of four new POPs publications and preparations for a new project for country-based pilot work to identify or address persistent toxic substances. He also commended the GEF’s cooperation in addressing persistent toxic substances through its water programme.

GENERAL REMARKS: The floor was then opened for general remarks. INDONESIA stressed difficulties in collecting quantitative data. CAMEROON urged strengthening regional and subregional cooperation. The GAMBIA noted its current focus on a PCB case study contingent on UNEP assistance. MALI, the PHILIPPINES, NIGERIA, EGYPT, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, KENYA, SAMOA, MALAYSIA and IRAN presented their current standings regarding POPs, including national programmes to eliminate their use. Many countries requested assistance, including legal, technical and financial assistance, from governments or organizations. The US welcomed the GEF’s interest in considering a range of POPs projects and stressed the need for: more information on releases; technical and financial assistance for developing countries; strong policy measures on wastes and byproducts of POPs; meaningful provisions in the treaty; and, with CANADA and CHINA, global cooperation to eliminate the use of intentionally produced POPs. CANADA requested an evaluation of whether the convention is effective as a practical system of global monitoring at a regional level. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION and IRAN recognized divisions between developed and developing country positions on POPs issues and their potential to impede INC work. CHINA stressed common but differentiated responsibilities and supported a mechanism resembling the Montreal Protocol’s multilateral fund. NIGERIA, on behalf of the African Group, called for a multilateral financial mechanism similar to that of the Montreal Protocol, means for information exchange, and assistance to developing countries to help implement the convention. KUWAIT recommended inclusion of an article on regional and subregional arrangements, as well as a mechanism to assess and evaluate new chemicals to ensure environmental safety, and suggested that UNEP could undertake such an assessment. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA supported use of the precautionary approach when adding chemicals to the convention.

PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY expressed concern over DDT use for malaria control and, with the US and WWF, stressed the need to phase out DDT and redirect attention to the research and creation of new mechanisms to control malaria.

The MALARIA PROJECT introduced an open letter signed by doctors, scientists and health economists urging that public health use of DDT be permitted to fight malaria, stressing that health risks from malaria outweigh those from DDT. He said the convention should require developed countries to fund costly alternatives if DDT is to be phased out or eliminated. The WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) highlighted a progress report on the development of the WHO action plan for the reduction of reliance on DDT use for public health purposes (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/INF/15) and stressed overcoming the cost of alternatives. LESOTHO expressed concern over conflicting evidence on DDT and called on developed countries to provide clarification on the issue. NIGERIA supported a phaseout of DDT as long as cost-effective alternatives are available. BOTSWANA noted it has provisionally stopped DDT use, and the PHILIPPINES emphasized that malaria can be reduced without DDT.

THAILAND expressed concern over the reemerging use of DDT, and urged countries to share practical experiences regarding malaria reduction without the use of DDT. ZAMBIA mentioned domestic public perception that DDT is the most effective method to control malaria. ARGENTINA supported changing current malaria strategies and called for an accurate, in-depth cost-benefit analysis on DDT. INDIA called for technical and financial assistance to help developing countries meet the convention's objectives. ECUADOR said developed countries should stop exporting POPs to developing countries. WWF reiterated that banning DDT should not be at the cost of lives lost to malaria and withdrew its global DDT phaseout target date of 2007, but supported continued efforts to achieve elimination regardless of the date. The PESTICIDES ACTION GROUP AND ALTERNATIVES FOR LATIN AMERICA stressed pursing the goal of POPs elimination and highlighted Mexico’s success in decreasing cases of malaria while decreasing DDT use.

Jim Willis announced that: Germany will host INC-4 in Bonn from 20-25 March 2000; South Africa will host INC-5, with a contribution from Denmark, sometime between October and December 2000; and the Diplomatic Conference is tentatively scheduled to be hosted and funded by Sweden sometime between April and June 2001.

REPORT OF CEG-2: Criteria Expert Group (CEG) Co-Chairs Reiner Arndt (Germany) and Fatoumata Jallow Ndoye (The Gambia) reported on the outcome of CEG-2 (UNEP/POPS/INC/CEG/2/3). The report contains some working definitions and a draft article on the procedure for identifying additional POPs, including information requirements and criteria for the proposal and screening of a substance as well as information requirements for the risk profile and socioeconomic considerations. Arndt noted that CEG-2 had fulfilled the group’s mandate. He said the CEG agreed organic substances with transformation products that are POPs should be eligible for nomination. He noted the CEG did not reach agreement on: the half-life in water necessary to meet the persistence criteria; the log Kow necessary to demonstrate bioaccumulation; or the definition for the potential for long-range environmental transport. He also noted the CEG supported reference to the precautionary principle in the convention.

Jallow Ndoye noted the CEG considered options for a POPs review committee and preferred establishment of two POPs review committees to address risk assessment and risk management.

FINLAND, on behalf of the EU, supported the recommended procedure and noted estimated time and costs for the procedure contained in UNEP/POPS/INC.3/INF/11. Several countries, including IRAN, the CZECH REPUBLIC, SWITZERLAND, the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, MALI and CAMEROON supported adoption of the report as the basis for further negotiation. The INTERNATIONAL POPS ELIMINATION NETWORK (IPEN) called for incorporation of the precautionary principle and a transparent procedure. Buccini commended the CEG for having completed its work ahead of schedule and under budget.


On Tuesday, 7 September, delegates in Plenary began discussions on the article on measures to reduce or eliminate releases of POPs into the environment, including measures on prohibition and restriction, byproducts, waste management and stockpiles (UNEP/POPS/INC.2/6). Discussion on this article continued in the Negotiation Group throughout the week. A provision on new substances was also discussed under this article.

Prohibition and Restriction: The EU called for clear obligations to prohibit production and use, and stressed the ultimate aim of elimination, as did CANADA, POLAND, ICELAND and SWITZERLAND. The US, supported by SOUTH AFRICA, BOTSWANA, TANZANIA, JAMAICA and JAPAN, said the text should provide for “effective measures to eliminate” production rather than “prohibit” production. AUSTRALIA and ARGENTINA supported one provision for prohibition and restriction, while the GAMBIA supported separate provisions. The US, ETHIOPIA, TURKEY, ZAMBIA, GHANA and the INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHEMICAL ASSOCIATIONS (ICCA) supported two annexes for prohibition and restriction. The EU and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA supported a single annex approach. MICRONESIA, CHINA, ZAMBIA, EGYPT and IRAN supported common but differentiated responsibilities and different phaseout schedules for developed and developing countries. ARGENTINA stressed the need to carefully consider the benefits of different timetables. The DOMINICAN REPUBLIC expressed concern that developing countries could become POPs dumping grounds with a two-track system of obligations.

On the issue of import and export, the EU, NORWAY, SWITZERLAND, MICRONESIA, PERU, VENEZUELA and the GAMBIA opposed export and import of banned POPs, except for the purpose of environmentally sound “destruction.” COLOMBIA stressed environmentally sound “disposal.” The US, with others, stressed consistency with the Rotterdam and Basel Conventions. QATAR opposed developed country exportation of POPs to developing countries. AUSTRALIA expressed concern over the inclusion of import and export measures and the potential for inconsistency with the WTO.

The EU opposed general exemptions except for research purposes and said restricted exemptions should be considered for DDT. EGYPT stressed caution in allowing production of POPs for research purposes, so as to avoid exploitation of loopholes. The US supported several exemptions and allowing individual end-users to deplete remaining stocks. ARGENTINA supported restricted and well-considered exemptions. 

The EU supported prohibition of PCBs production and a phaseout period for PCBs use in transformers. YEMEN said the developing countries need the means and facilities to utilize the alternatives to DDT. LESOTHO supported elimination of DDT in the country of origin. BOTSWANA called for a delay in the prohibition of DDT and asked for reference to effective sustainable alternatives to DDT. JAMAICA supported reference to the Rotterdam Convention and to the Montreal Protocol to demonstrate examples of effective import and export control measures. The WHO recommended export of DDT stockpiles to countries that use DDT for malaria control as a cost-effective manner for disposal. He supported including a definition of “alternatives” in the convention. The SEYCHELLES supported a global inventory of DDT in order to expedite prohibition.

WWF said the message of elimination must be in specific control measures and supported a two-annex approach to highlight the ultimate goal of elimination. He said import or export of POPs should be consistent with the Basel Convention and only for environmentally sound disposal. He highlighted a new report on disease vector management for public health and conservation. The INUIT CIRCUMPOLAR CONFERENCE (ICC) called for elimination, cost-effective alternatives, financial and technical assistance and new funding through a reformed GEF or through a multilateral fund.

From Tuesday, 7 September, through Friday, 10 September, the contact group on prohibitions and restrictions, established at INC-2, reconvened to work on: operative language of the prohibition and restriction paragraphs; issues of exemptions; import and export of commercial production; and allocating the 10 intentionally-produced POPs into annexes on prohibition and restriction, with possible exemptions by product, country and time-frame using examples provided by countries in the group. The contract group, chaired by Charles Auer (US), produced a Chair’s report, draft text and annexes, which are attached to the report of INC-3.

On Friday, 10 September, the Negotiation Group discussed the text put forward by the contact group. The US, with CANADA, bracketed “production” in the provision on restrictions. Delegates did not agree on whether to extend prohibition to export and import, some highlighting concerns regarding non-parties and the World Trade Organization. On dealing with wastes exported for environmentally sound destruction or disposal, the group requested that the Legal Drafting Group clarify the need in the prohibition provision for Australia’s proposed language stipulating that chemicals be treated as wastes once banned, taking into account the issues being addressed in the article on wastes. IRAN, supported by CHINA, proposed language making both the prohibition and restriction requirements "subject to the accessibility of financial and technical assistance."

The final text on prohibition and restrictions provisions reflects a lack of consensus as to whether countries will be obligated to prohibit or take the legal measures necessary to eliminate production and use. Various combinations of these two options also remain in brackets. All options remain in brackets. In both provisions, references to accessibility of financial and technical assistance remain in brackets. No consensus was reached on whether the prohibition requirement should extend to export and import. A provision under prohibition on whether exceptions for import or export of banned chemicals should be allowed for the environmentally sound “destruction” or, alternatively, “disposal” also remains bracketed with internal brackets around both "disposal and "destruction." Regarding restrictions, consensus was not reached as to whether restrictions should extend to production and this is reflected in the final draft text.

Annexes on Prohibition and Restriction: In addressing the annexes on elimination of production and use (Annex A) and elimination of production and restriction of use (Annex B), the group placed aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, HCB, mirex and toxaphene into Annex A. Chlordane and heptachlor were placed in brackets in Annex A. Due to lack of consensus, DDT and PCBs were placed in both annexes with brackets. Aldrin, endrin and toxaphene did not have specific exemptions identified. A number of country-specific exemptions were identified for HCB, chlordane, dieldrin, heptachlor and mirex. For HCB, a date of exemption expiry was identified for several uses; for the other chemicals the date of expiry or review was not identified.

Discussions on DDT in the contact group focused on use for vector control. No countries indicated a need for agricultural use. The need to address illegal traffic was identified. A US proposal addressing elements of an overall strategy for dealing with DDT was discussed extensively and is detailed in the Chair’s report. The group proposed this type of broad strategy be developed for all POPs having specific prohibition exemptions or being placed in the restrictions annex and proposed future elaboration of its DDT discussions or their use for intersessional work.

The focus of the group was on the use of PCBs in transformers and other electrical equipment. No participants indicated a need for production or new uses. The issue of elimination of PCBs was deemed complex and expensive. Identified concerns were: cost of replacement before electrical equipment reaches the end of its useful life; identifying existing applications in countries; the import of used equipment containing PCBs; absence of a phaseout plan; and the costs and availability of alternatives. Support for phaseout was significant. An additional specific exemption for PCBs was entered in both annexes. Regarding the proposed general exemption for de minimus contaminants, the group noted PCBs will likely warrant specification of a contaminant level.

The group requested advice on procedure when a party anticipates not meeting the date specified for a country-specific obligation, as set out in any of the annexes to the article on measures. The group also identified a need for countries to indicate specific exemptions and related issues on the intentionally produced POPs before INC-4 to allow annex updates, and the need for capacity building for legislative banning of chemicals.

General Exemptions: On Thursday, 9 September, in the Negotiation Group, Chair Auer outlined text for proposed general exemptions: research; de minimis contaminants in products; occurring as constituents of articles manufactured or already in use; use as a closed-system intermediate that is chemically transformed in the manufacture of other chemicals; and substances that are in the possession of an end-use consumer prior to entry into force. He said the group briefly discussed the question of a general exemption for public health emergencies, noting that most delegates in the group supported use of chemical-specific exemptions rather than a general exemption. On other proposed exemptions, delegates did not agree whether to place general exemptions in an article or in the annexes. The EU supported placement in the annexes. The GAMBIA and INDONESIA suggested that exemptions be placed under scope. CANADA and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA supported inclusion in an article. AUSTRALIA supported placement in the article on measures to reduce or eliminate. Delegates agreed on a general exemption for research.

Many delegates requested further elaboration of closed-system intermediates. SOUTH AFRICA, on behalf of the African Group, as well as the EU, MALI, INDIA, MALAYSIA and INDONESIA opposed an end-use exemption. The US supported its retention. INDONESIA, YEMEN and MALAYSIA asked for clear definition of de minimis. The US stressed the high costs associated with removing chemicals from articles in use (i.e., flame retardant clothing containing mirex), while others opposed this general exemption. GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL expressed concern over the number and magnitude of general exemptions and stressed they would create loopholes that could lead to increases of POPs particularly before entry into force of the convention. In preparation for INC-4, Buccini suggested the Secretariat look at issues related to the exemptions on de minimis contamination, articles in use and closed-system use.

On Saturday, 11 September, the Negotiation Group discussed how to move the issue forward for INC-4. POLAND preferred the incorporation of text on general exemptions in the article on measures to reduce or eliminate releases. The EU said it was premature to place it in the negotiating text, and preferred its inclusion in the contact group's report. ARGENTINA said that location of the text depended on clarifications regarding the exemptions. Chair Auer said use for research should appear in the text, as there was agreement to this exemption. Buccini suggested use of a dummy article “zz” for general exemption and said placement of general exemptions in the convention would be further discussed at INC-4.

The final text on general exemptions states that unless otherwise specified, the provisions on prohibition and restriction will not apply to quantities of a substance: used in research; occurring as de minimis contaminants in products; contained in articles in use; used as closed-system intermediates; and used by an end-use consumer. Except for the general exemption on research, the text remains in brackets and will be further considered at INC-4.

Byproducts: On Tuesday, 7 September, delegates made interventions in Plenary on reducing releases of byproducts. AUSTRALIA, noting the wide range of byproduct sources, opposed a prescriptive approach and suggested regular progress reports. NORWAY noted the need to take concrete measures to reduce dioxin releases and to use best available techniques (BATs) for new and existing sources. CANADA and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA called for realistic and achievable action. CHINA supported concrete measures to eliminate dioxin. The US said legal commitments for reduction were not feasible due to the lack of precise baseline data. INDONESIA, supported by CHINA, INDIA and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, expressed concern that baseline requirements would make participation in the convention difficult. While recognizing the lack of information on byproduct releases and difficulties in developing inventories, the EU said countries should set reduction targets with the aim of continuing minimization and, with SWITZERLAND, supported development of release estimates based on sources and use estimates for national inventories. NORWAY, supported by ICELAND, called for clear and adequate reporting requirements on reductions and a review committee to evaluate obligations and whether they should be strengthened.

Several delegations, including JAPAN, MALAYSIA and INDONESIA, supported development of an action programme to reduce byproducts. The US said such a programme should be flexible with varying commitments depending on the country. Noting the lack of data on byproduct releases in developing countries, MALAYSIA, supported by CHINA and INDONESIA, identified development of inventories as the first step toward reducing byproduct releases and emphasized contingency on technical assistance and financial resources. ECUADOR emphasized prevention through clean production. GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL underscored elimination as the ultimate goal, and called for a provision requiring use of alternatives when available and supported implementing the "polluter pays principle.”

On Thursday, 9 September, Buccini established a contact group on byproducts, chaired by Paul Whylie (Jamaica), and mandated the group to develop text reflecting an action-plan based approach.

On Saturday, 11 September, the Negotiation Group reviewed text submitted by the contact group. ICELAND, NEW ZEALAND and CANADA agreed the text was a good basis for negotiation. ICELAND highlighted the outstanding issues, regarding use of the term "best available techniques." CHINA said the contact group's report did not reflect developing countries’ views and, with the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and ZAMBIA, asked that reduction of releases be consistent with capacities and subject to the availability of technical and financial assistance. The US and AUSTRALIA supported addressing the issue in the articles on technical and financial assistance. JAMAICA advocated waiting for outcome on these articles to determine how to proceed.

The EU supported an effective and practical approach, acknowledging the difficulties associated with baselines for byproducts, and with AUSTRALIA, did not support a baseline approach. The EU and NORWAY stressed the importance of stating the long-term goal of ultimate elimination. AUSTRALIA disagreed. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION opposed listing elements required for inclusion in national action plans. CHINA said evaluations were costly. The US requested inclusion of text on COP review of such plans. In response, Whylie said the group considered placing this under the provision on national implementation plans. He also noted that due to time constraints, the annex on byproducts was not addressed.

The final draft text reflects that no consensus was reached on the degree of commitment parties would take on reducing releases of byproducts and text on the aim of continuing minimization and ultimate elimination remains bracketed. The text requires parties to promote the application of measures that practically and feasibly reduce releases and/or source elimination use. The text also includes provisions on using best available techniques for new and existing sources, taking into consideration guidelines on best available techniques developed by the COP. Reference to other prevention strategies remain bracketed.

Text on the development of a national action plan designed to identify, characterize and address the release of byproducts requires parties to include:

  • an evaluation of current and projected releases, including the development and maintenance of source inventories and release estimates;

  • an evaluation of the adequacy of policies and laws;

  • prevention, reduction and control strategies;

  • steps to promote education, training and awareness of such strategies;

  • an implementation schedule; and

  • a means for monitoring progress of strategies.

Text on technical and financial assistance remains in brackets, as does text on national action plans. The text will be forwarded to INC-4 for negotiation.

Waste Management and Destruction of Stockpiles: On Tuesday, 7 September, delegates in Plenary discussed management and disposal of wastes, and destruction of stockpiles and waste. The EU emphasized development of inventories on stockpiles and wastes. She also underscored management in a controlled and safe manner and called for this to be defined in the convention. IPEN drew attention to communities affected by POPs used or stored by the military and asked that the convention hold the military responsible for cleanup after military activities in national and foreign bases. CANADA supported using the Basel Convention as a key vehicle for POPs waste, and preferred "environmentally-sound disposal" to “destruction of wastes” in the text. COLOMBIA said reference to the Basel Convention was not necessary in the context of management and disposal of waste. AUSTRALIA called for reference to cleanup of contaminated sites and an evaluation of the relationship between POPs waste and the Basel Convention. Noting that substances can be trace contaminants, JAPAN, supported by CANADA and the US, opposed inclusion of byproducts under chemicals affected by measures on waste management and disposal. CHINA, INDIA, MALAYSIA and INDONESIA wanted to retain reference to technical and financial assistance. With JAPAN, the US preferred moving it to articles on technical and financial assistance. The US said reference to the Basel Convention in destruction of stockpiles and waste may impede ratification of the POPs convention. The EU, supported by INDONESIA, requested deletion of the paragraph on the destruction of stockpiles and waste.

The BASEL CONVENTION announced that its programme includes a proposed classification of obsolete pesticides needing reformulation, in close cooperation with the Basel Secretariat and UNEP Chemical Secretariat, to avoid possible gaps or overlaps that might occur between the Basel and future POPs conventions. He added that under Basel, there are provisions that request environmental management of POPs. A request was put forward to the Legal Drafting Group to evaluate cross-referencing other conventions, highlighting issues raised regarding reference to the Basel Convention under these measures. Legal Drafting Group Chair Patrick Szell reported the group had identified no legal impediment but stressed caution in using such an approach. He said cross-referencing did not bind a non-party to the crossed-referenced Convention. On the interface between the Basel and the POPs conventions, he identified the need for comparative policy analysis addressing gaps and overlaps. Due to time constraints, further discussion on this issue was postponed until INC-4.

NEW Chemicals: On Thursday, 9 September, delegates addressed EU-proposed text, located under the article on measures to reduce or eliminate releases, which states that each party shall take necessary measures to prevent newly developed chemicals that exhibit POPs characteristics from being produced, made commercially available or used. CANADA presented two options: appropriate measures to identify and prevent releases in accordance with national laws; and consideration of criteria and procedures for new or newly developed chemicals be within the parties' national regulatory and assessment schemes. AUSTRALIA supported the second option without "new or newly developed.” POLAND requested reference to criteria which apply specifically to the 12 POPs covered by this convention. JAMAICA suggested replacing “developed” with “discovered” chemicals. A contact group was established to address new chemicals.

On Friday, 10 September, the contact group presented new text to Plenary, which stated that parties shall take measures within their regulatory and assessment schemes for new or newly developed chemicals to address chemicals demonstrating POPs properties to avoid creation of additional POPs. Delegates indicated broad support for a provision on new chemicals, but disagreed on language. A number of delegations expressed concern with the term “creation” of additional POPs, indicating it may capture unintended circumstances such as the creation of POPs during research. The US proposed referring only to “new chemicals" and specifying the avoidance of commercialization of additional POPs. The UKRAINE agreed and supported substituting “emergence” for “creation.” CANADA preferred a simple reference to “chemicals” to capture existing chemicals coming up for review. Chair Buccini preferred treating this as a separate issue, as the CEG’s recommendation covered new chemicals. The EU proposed bracketing “avoiding the creation” and supported adding “prohibiting the commercialization.” The US opposed "prohibiting." The RUSSIAN FEDERATION preferred referring to environmental impacts as opposed to specifying creation or commercialization. In response, the US suggested, and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION supported, referring to releases.

On Saturday, 11 September, the contact group reported its amendments to the text with the options of “avoiding” or “preventing” new POPs through measures within regulatory and assessment schemes for either “new” or “newly developed” chemicals. SOUTH AFRICA bracketed the entire text on grounds that answers were first needed on how to regulate and monitor new chemicals. Interpreting the requirement to take measures “within regulatory and assessment schemes” as not allowing for parties without such schemes, the GAMBIA, with COLOMBIA, preferred requiring “measures to regulate” chemicals. The Plenary agreed to bracket the text and its elements of contention, retain it in the key article on measures to reduce or eliminate releases, send the text to the Legal Drafting Group, and note the points of contention in the meeting report.


On Wednesday, 8 September, delegates discussed the article on national implementation plans. Many delegations indicated their strong support for the requirement to develop national implementation plans. Most preferred referring to “national plans” instead of “national strategies and plans” since strategies were considered to form part of national plans. On the EU’s call for language to allow for regional plans, NEW ZEALAND, with AUSTRALIA, stressed the need for a clear obligation on each party to develop a plan.

CHINA, TOGO, CHILE, ECUADOR, TANZANIA, VENEZUELA, ZAMBIA, MALAYSIA, EGYPT, YEMEN, BURKINA FASO, the PHILIPPINES, the GAMBIA, LESOTHO, SAUDI ARABIA, MICRONESIA, SENEGAL, PERU, CUBA, BOTSWANA and others supported retaining text on developing national plans consistent with capabilities and subject to the availability of technical assistance, where appropriate, and further extending this condition to availability of financial assistance. MALI, with the CZECH REPUBLIC, suggested splitting this paragraph in two, separating developed and developing countries, stating the availability of technical assistance does not apply to developed countries. The EU, NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA and the US preferred including reference to technical and financial assistance in articles directly addressing technical assistance and financial mechanisms. IRAN and PAKISTAN suggested replacing “availability” with “accessibility” of technical assistance. CANADA proposed language stating that plans be transmitted to the COP within six months of the convention's entry into force and updated at regular intervals to be determined by the COP. The US and AUSTRALIA supported consideration of such language.

YEMEN, with the FAO, called for obligatory cooperation. The US stated a need to consider the application of the provision on national implementation plans to action plans needed for byproducts. JAPAN stressed considering this provision’s relationship with the provision on national reporting. The FAO outlined its activities relevant to implementation of the convention, including managing pesticides and supporting development of inventories. It highlighted its willingness to support establishment of national implementation plans and stressed that exemptions for POPs use should be in accordance with integrated pest management (IPM).

The draft article states that parties shall develop national plans, with bracketed options for this to be completed within six months or one year of entry into force. The strategies shall include information on how the party plans to implement the obligations of the convention. It calls upon parties to cooperate at the international, regional and subregional levels to facilitate development of such plans.


On Wednesday, 8 September, the Negotiation Group began discussion on criteria and procedure for adding new chemicals. The  Secretariat noted the CEG final report (UNEP/POPS/CEG/2/3) and the estimated time-frames and costs (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/INF/11) in order to facilitate discussions on the criteria and procedure for adding new chemicals. NORWAY expressed concern over the estimated four- to six-year time-frame for adding new substances. In support, the US suggested possible ways to expedite the process, such as written reviews and review committee meetings nine months prior to a COP to ensure six-month party notification.

Delegates discussed various options for dealing with procedure: inclusion as an article; inclusion as an annex; or a decision taken at the diplomatic conference. The EU forwarded a proposal calling for: inclusion of an article on the POPs review committee and its functions; a decision on procedure at the Diplomatic Conference to set the process in motion before entry into force; a decision at COP-1 on procedural aspects of the review committee; and a flexible and easy process for changing procedure through COP decisions. Highlighting the sensitivity of the issue and stressing that too flexible a procedure could cause problems with ratification, the US, JAPAN and AUSTRALIA expressed a strong preference to include the article in the text. CANADA suggested it could be placed in an annex.

In discussion on criteria for persistence and bioaccumulation, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, AUSTRALIA, JAPAN, INDONESIA, the US, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and NEW ZEALAND supported a six-month half-life in water for persistence and a log Kow greater than five for bioaccumulation. The EU, ARGENTINA, ICELAND, SWITZERLAND, CAMEROON and TURKEY supported a half-life of two months and a log Kow greater than four.

Buccini suggested the Legal Drafting Group look at the procedure in an annex without prejudice to any final decision the INC may take on procedure. The EU objected on the basis that putting one option forward would prejudge the outcome. The US suggested the Legal Drafting Group evaluate it in its current form. The EU objected and Buccini suspended discussion on the issue.

Delegates briefly discussed the precautionary principle, with NORWAY, COLOMBIA, ARGENTINA, the EU and the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC supporting its inclusion. Highlighting different interpretations of the precautionary principle, the US preferred use of the precautionary approach and, with AUSTRALIA and CANADA, supported its inclusion in the preamble. Buccini said the issue would be discussed at a later date as a cross-cutting issue.

On Thursday, 10 September, delegates continued debating how to forward the article on procedure and criteria to the Legal Drafting Group. The EU suggested the Legal Drafting Group look at what elements could be addressed in an article, in an annex and outside the body of the convention, either in a decision taken by the diplomatic conference or by the COP. The US said the mandate was vague and that the Legal Drafting Group should be given policy guidance as to what should be included in the agreement and in annexes. He identified six key elements for inclusion in the convention: party nomination of a substance; application of screening criteria; development of a risk profile; review committee determination of whether to proceed with a proposal; risk management evaluation, if warranted; and recommendation by the review committee to the COP as to whether a chemical should be listed. He said provisions such as the role of the Secretariat and time periods could be left for an annex. The EU said it would submit a proposal for text on procedure.

Regarding the annex on socioeconomic considerations, COLOMBIA, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, proposed that references to costs as they relate to risk reduction control measures and alternatives be modified to "environmental and health costs," noting that costs usually refer to economic costs. ICELAND proposed "costs, including environmental and health costs," which was accepted.

On Friday morning, 10 September, delegates briefly discussed an EU-proposed article on procedure, which contained five paragraphs instead of the 14 outlined in the CEG report. NEW ZEALAND said the EU's proposed article overly-abbreviated the procedure set out by the CEG and supported a provision regarding establishment of the review committee. A contact group, chaired by Iceland, was established to further discuss procedure and to draft new text.

On Friday afternoon, Halldor Thorgeirsson (Iceland) reported that the contact group drafted text capturing the key elements identified as critical for inclusion but did not address the POPs review committee, the precautionary principle or elements related to timing and the role of the Secretariat. ARGENTINA bracketed references to observers. The text was forwarded to the Legal Drafting Group.

On Saturday, Legal Drafting Group Chair Szell noted review of the text, requested clarification as to what entities would be covered by the term “observers” and said he expected the Legal Drafting Group would have to review revised versions. ARGENTINA, the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC and PERU confirmed that references to observers would remain bracketed in the text on procedure.

The final text contains seven paragraphs outlining the procedure for adding new chemicals. The procedure states that any party may submit a proposal to the Secretariat for listing a substance in the annexes on prohibition, restriction and/or byproducts and that the proposal must contain information required by the annex on screening criteria. The text makes provisions for forwarding the proposal to the POPs review committee if the criteria are met, applying the criteria in a flexible, transparent and integrative manner, preparation of a risk profile, and preparation of a risk management evaluation, including an analysis of possible control measures for the substance in accordance with the annex on socioeconomic considerations. The text states that, based on the risk profile and the risk-management evaluation, the review committee will recommend whether the substance should be considered by the COP for listing in the convention. A provision stating that the COP will decide whether to amend the annexes to list the substance and related control measures remains in brackets. Also in brackets are references to the precautionary principle and observers. The text was forwarded to INC-4 for negotiation.

Adverse Effects/Reasons for Concern: On Thursday, 9 September, the Negotiation Group discussed a Norwegian proposal on the adverse effects and reasons for concern under the annex on screening criteria, stating that either: toxicity or ecotoxicity data; or a comparison of toxicity or ecotoxicity data or other information deemed relevant by the nominating party be provided. The US, CANADA and AUSTRALIA opposed Norway's proposal on the basis that both toxicity and exposure data should be obligatory, and said it weakened the CEG language. The EU opposed obligatory comparisons and said comparisons were too demanding to require of some countries. COLOMBIA, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, recommended that evidence on toxicity was crucial for the analysis of environmental and health costs of the substance. Buccini established a contact group to discuss the issue further.

On Saturday, the Plenary discussed the revised draft text submitted by the contact group, which does not obligate countries to provide exposure information. The EU, ICELAND and CANADA said the text could serve as a basis for further negotiation. The EU reiterated that lack of data at the screening stage should not determine whether a proposal goes forward, and highlighted other evidence, including indirect effects on the environment or human health. The US said the proposed text was beyond what the CEG agreed to and outside the UNEP GC mandate. He said exposure in combination with toxicity is consistent with the GC mandate and proposed amendments to reflect this. AUSTRALIA agreed, noting that criteria are to be applied flexibly. The EU said the text was within the GC mandate and, with ICELAND, opposed the US proposal to require information on exposure.

The draft text requires parties to provide toxicity or ecotoxicity data indicating potential damage to human health or to the environment. There was no consensus as to whether a statement of the reasons for concern, including a comparison of toxicity or ecotoxicity data with detected or predicted levels of a substance resulting or anticipated from long-range environmental transport, would be obligatory, and language reflecting both options remains bracketed. Text noting that evidence on adverse effects was of crucial importance for an analysis of environmental health costs remains bracketed. The text was forwarded to INC-4.


On Thursday, 9 September, and Friday, 10 September, the Negotiation Group heard proposals to amend the article on information exchange in the Secretariat's draft text. SOUTH AFRICA, supported by the US and CANADA, proposed that information be exchanged in a manner consistent with national laws. IRAN, YEMEN, CHINA, TOGO and TANZANIA supported language stating that information be exchanged in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner. CAMEROON and CHINA called for text obligating parties to undertake information exchange. The PHILIPPINES added that alternatives be environmentally sound in addition to cost-effective. TANZANIA supported deleting cost-effective. ETHIOPIA called to extend alternatives to include technological ones. SOUTH AFRICA proposed replacing text on cost-effective alternatives with alternatives including information on risk assessment, socioeconomic consideration and successful use. The EU proposed deleting the list of cost-effective alternatives, emphasizing the importance of the article's aim over its detail. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA called for exchange of legal information on national laws and administrative systems. IRAN proposed information exchange on the latest results of potential substances to be added to the list.

CANADA proposed text on information to be exchanged in a manner consistent with national laws, regulations and practices and relevant to: development and use of best available techniques for POPs prevention or control; development and use of alternatives; evaluation of the risks alternatives pose to human health and the environment; economic and social costs of control techniques and alternatives; and related information exchange activities conducted in other regional and international fora. To this list, the GAMBIA supported adding indigenous practices.

BURKINA FASO proposed text requiring parties to create favorable conditions to facilitate information exchange in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner, consistent with their laws, regulations and practices. He identified, inter alia: scientific, technical, economic and legal information concerning sound management of POPs; risk evaluation information; and information on cost-effective alternatives, including endogenous methods. IRAN, CAMEROON, the PHILIPPINES, ARGENTINA, TANZANIA and SWITZERLAND opposed a provision on confidential information. CANADA agreed if its proposal was accepted. JAPAN supported the provision, citing intellectual property rights laws on newly developed chemicals. The EU said that information related to human and environmental health should not be regarded as confidential. An NGO coalition called for public availability of all relevant information on POPs, including information regarding production, trade and use.

YEMEN expressed concern over language limiting the exchange of information through the Secretariat. The US, the EU and CANADA proposed alternative language reflecting that other methods of exchange may be used. SAUDI ARABIA added that information could be exchanged between parties. Regarding the Secretariat serving as a clearing-house mechanism (CHM) for other relevant information, CANADA highlighted the UNEP Chemicals CHM on POPs as a good basis for discussion. He also proposed a CHM on matching financial and technical assistance needs.

Delegates agreed to provisions on a CHM, a national focal point and Secretariat involvement, but not on exact language and the specific types of information. No agreement was reached on the manner in which and what type of information would be exchanged, or whether to include a provision on confidential information.

On Saturday, 11 September, the Negotiation Group looked at revised text incorporating the proposals. The EU highlighted that many points raised during discussions, including their proposals, were not reflected in the draft text. The issue will be further discussed at INC-4.


On Wednesday, 8 September, the Implementation Group held general discussion on technical assistance. Cardenas requested delegates to consider what capacity-building activities the article should include, eligibility for technical assistance, and the type of mechanism envisaged.

Several delegates, including the EU, PERU and UNIDO expressed difficulty with knowing how to begin addressing technical assistance, given the breadth and complexity of the convention. The EU called for a process to first identify needs and then determine technical assistance. BRAZIL suggested conducting inventories to help determine needs. GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL stressed that the convention’s success depends on its ability to transfer capacity to countries in need of assistance and proposed consideration of an initial three-year period focusing on the development of inventories and national implementation plans, thus allowing for initial implementation measures to be established and later reviewed as a learning experience. The CZECH REPUBLIC said basic areas for technical assistance had been outlined at INC-2 and called for identification of proper mechanisms and necessary funds. The US emphasized identification of country-specific needs and said technical assistance will be an ongoing discussion. CANADA emphasized commitment to the provision of technical and financial assistance while noting individual countries’ responsibility to take action. MICRONESIA and URUGUAY called for consideration of technical assistance on a regional basis.

CANADA proposed a CHM to identify and coordinate needs and available resources. The PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK highlighted experiences from the technical options committee to address methyl bromide under the Montreal Protocol. The GEF highlighted a case study project for national implementation plans. GERMANY highlighted the forthcoming results from a project assessing dioxin and furan emissions in Thailand and possible lessons learned.

Highlighting the list of possible capacity-building activities identified at INC-2 (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/INF/8), Chair Cardenas sought preferences for a general or specific article. CANADA, the EU, the US and others supported an open, non-exhaustive formula. URUGUAY proposed a short article outlining activities, means of providing assistance and assistance recipients. The US emphasized reflecting the primary goal of implementing the convention’s obligations and stressed coordination of existing and future activities.

On Thursday, 10 September, the EU proposed text for the article, calling for: international cooperation; assessment of infrastructure and capacity at the local and national levels; and promotion of five capacity-building areas. MICRONESIA opposed specification of capacity-building areas and, asking for details on the “who” and “how,” emphasized the need for guidance on how to coordinate donors. IRAN remarked that the EU proposal lacked commitment to assistance while all other articles of the convention required strong obligations necessitating assistance. URUGUAY, supported by ARGENTINA, said the text on capacity-building was more limited than what was agreed upon at INC-2 and called for clarity to guide implementation of the convention. LESOTHO, supported by ARGENTINA and ANGOLA, called for assessments at the regional and subregional levels. NIGER urged countries to continue support for initial work on inventories in developing countries.

IRAN, supported by NIGER and ANGOLA, called for technical assistance for POPs destruction. INDIA supported an indicative list for capacity-building areas and suggested additional areas, inter alia, sending experts for problem solving, technology for new products, conduct of studies, and preparation of guidance documents. LESOTHO expressed concern that the text overlooked technology transfer, rehabilitation of contaminated areas, and formulation of national implementation plans. CANADA opposed detailing every capacity-building need, stating that “action necessary to implement the Convention” covers all aspects of implementation. ECUADOR said the article should detail a mechanism for identifying donors and recipients. The SEYCHELLES said the procedure for receiving assistance should be detailed. GHANA called for reference to a coordinating body at the national level.

Delegates next considered a Canadian proposal for a CHM to coordinate technical assistance. ICELAND emphasized the importance of having information on supply of and demand for technical assistance. TANZANIA noted the proposal could allow for both information exchange and technical assistance. The US underscored coordination and streamlining of activities. The EU stressed connecting financing sources with needs and information. MICRONESIA envisioned a one-stop facility for technical assistance and, with VENEZUELA, stressed the article must address more than just information provision. GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL called for enhanced availability of technical assistance to meet specific implementation demands. He cautioned against assuming that enough resources exist and that a CHM will be the only additional cost.

LESOTHO queried the success of existing CHMs and, in response, the FAO highlighted a mechanism to coordinate assistance for integrated pest management. AUSTRALIA agreed with the Canadian proposal’s request that the Secretariat examine past CHM experiences in terms of demand and supply coordination for technical assistance and report back at INC-4.

Chair Cardenas requested firm proposals on what should be included in the article on technical assistance, building on the EU text. EGYPT stressed technical assistance to build landfills and incinerators to destroy POPs stockpiles, supported development of training and awareness programmes at the regional and subregional levels, and called for a transparent mechanism for requesting technical assistance. NIGER underscored the need for assured assistance in follow-up to inventories. PERU requested articulation of the linkage between technical and financial assistance. The EU, TANZANIA, AUSTRALIA and the US preferred broad language with regard to capacity-building. The EU said the proposed text would include any activities required in the national implementation plan. The group agreed to consider a compilation text comprised of the EU proposal and a paragraph on a CHM based on the Canadian proposal.

On Friday, 10 September, PERU, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, introduced a proposal calling for, inter alia: Secretariat coordination of assistance; extension of assistance to the regional and subregional levels; indication of needs in national reports; and establishment of regional and subregional capacity-building centers. INDIA submitted a proposal for a technical assistance mechanism to provide information, capacity development, infrastructure development and technology transfer. MICRONESIA supported the Indian proposal, with the addition of making cleaner materials available. TANZANIA, on behalf of the African Group, submitted a proposal ensuring technical assistance for, inter alia: inventories and release registers; destruction of stockpiles; sustainable alternatives; and national action plans.

Several delegations, including MICRONESIA, EGYPT, SENEGAL, the SEYCHELLES and URUGUAY, identified complimentary areas among the proposals and supported amalgamating them. SOUTH AFRICA, supported by TANZANIA, proposed establishing a small group to consolidate the proposals. CANADA, with AUSTRALIA and the US, said negotiation of text based on the proposals was premature and suggested the original proposals be forwarded to INC-4. INDIA asked why negotiations could not take place now and called for identification of differences. Cardenas suggested the Secretariat prepare a compilation text.

When delegates later considered the Secretariat compilation, the EU said the text was difficult to read and, with the US and CANADA, supported reverting to the individual proposals. MICRONESIA, with ECUADOR, suggested integrating all elements of the proposals and deleting references to countries in order to focus on content rather than origin. The US countered the text would not be appropriate without attribution. Delegates agreed to include the individual proposals in an annex to the report of the meeting and forwarded as draft text to INC-4.

In Plenary on Saturday, 11 September, ZAMBIA, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, asked that its proposals on technical assistance and financial assistance and mechanisms be treated as negotiating text along with other proposals. Buccini asked for clarification as to whether the G-77/CHINA hoped text would be forwarded to INC-4 as draft negotiating text for the article or included in the report of the meeting. ZAMBIA said it should form part of the negotiating text. Buccini proposed that Chair Cardenas develop a meeting document for INC-4 that would build on discussions held in the Implementation Group as well as submissions. INDIA said discussions at INC-3 had demonstrated there were no more comments on the submissions and said that the proposals should be taken as negotiating text. Buccini called for indications for or against including the proposals as draft text for the article. SOUTH AFRICA supported this, noting the proposals could provide a basis for moving forward. AUSTRIA opposed further discussion in Plenary until after the Implementation Group considered the report of its work. Buccini suspended discussion.

The Implementation Group then considered its report (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/L.2). To a paragraph describing general agreement on the nature of the article, URUGUAY added text noting the need to identify which type of technical assistance to include. In response, the US added that many representatives questioned the need or value for such a list. The US also added text stating that the wide variety and amount of ongoing technical assistance in this area was also noted.

With regard to inclusion of proposals in the final report, INDIA, EGYPT and PERU noted their understanding that they would be appended as the draft article. The US noted a misunderstanding with what inclusion implied. CANADA suggested compiling a Chair’s text based on the proposals for consideration at INC-4. Cardenas proposed amending the report to note that many representatives suggested the proposals be included in the draft article. The US added that others raised questions about the proper form for reflecting such proposals. URUGUAY noted that the group had been working on a draft proposal since the beginning and questioned the confusion. In Plenary, delegates agreed to include the text in the report of the meeting and to call for the development of a Chair’s text to be presented at INC-4 based on the proposals and discussions.


On Friday, 10 September, the Implementation Group discussed the structure for the article on financial assistance and mechanisms. CHINA and PERU recommended establishing an individual multilateral funding mechanism. CANADA, with AUSTRALIA, the EU, the US, JAPAN and EGYPT, opposed a new multilateral fund. CANADA recommended examining and strengthening existing financial and technical mechanisms. INDIA suggested a separate financial mechanism using bilateral and multilateral assistance. ECUADOR proposed a dual financial/technical mechanism along with an additional voluntary mechanism. URUGUAY underscored the need to ensure proper channeling of funds. The EU proposed text promoting, inter alia: availability of financial resources; multiple-source funding; existing funds and financial mechanisms; and private sector involvement. The proposal also called for: each party to provide financial support for national activities; the COP to promote the availability of funding at the global, national, regional and subregional levels; and developing countries to utilize national coordinating mechanisms. MICRONESIA disagreed with the language in the proposal. EGYPT supported use of existing resources, noting that establishment of a multilateral fund would require time and prolong implementation. GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL emphasized the greater efficiency of technical assistance over the direct transfers of funds.

PAKISTAN suggested pooling donor funds into the GEF under a POPs elimination fund. The GEF said the global nature of POPs brought them under its mandate. CHINA emphasized support similar to that provided under the Montreal Protocol. INDIA noted the majority of POPs elimination projects are being carried out in developing countries through their own financing. CANADA said aid agencies need direct requests for funding to determine demand. The CZECH REPUBLIC noted that supply will need to increase to meet demand. URUGUAY said existing funding sources may not be specific enough to address the convention’s needs. GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL recalled a UNEP GC decision acknowledging a gap between actions to be taken on POPs and countries’ financial and technical capacity. Noting a lack of resources for countries trying to address POPs, he called for an obligation to find new resources if existing resources prove to be inadequate. The GEF highlighted projects on assessment of regional POPs releases, pest management for agriculture and disease vector control.

IRAN introduced a proposal for an independent financial mechanism to cover incremental costs of implementing the convention. PERU, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, submitted a proposal calling for, inter alia: a multilateral fund of regular and obligatory contributions; a technical assistance fund of voluntary contributions to support capacity-building and transfer of technology; bilateral, subregional and regional cooperation; and continual review by the COP. TANZANIA, on behalf of the African Group, submitted a proposal for a financial mechanism similar to that of the Montreal Protocol.

The EU proposed text promoting, inter alia: availability of financial resources; multiple-source funding; existing funds and financial mechanisms; and private sector involvement. The proposal also called for: each party to provide financial support for their national activities; the COP to promote the availability of funding at the national, subregional, regional and global levels; and developing countries to utilize national coordinating mechanisms. MICRONESIA disagreed with the proposal’s wording. LESOTHO noted overlap between all proposals and suggested combining them.

Cardenas suggested, and delegates agreed, to forward the proposals as options to be discussed at INC-4. In consideration of the final report, changes made to the text on financial assistance and mechanisms included adding reference to the GEF report on ongoing POPs programmes, as well as multilateral funds similar to that of the Montreal Protocol. During the closing Plenary, delegates agreed to develop a Chair’s text, based on the proposals and discussions during the intersessional period, to be presented at INC-4.


The Legal Drafting Group addressed standard procedural articles (Articles L-Z), as contained in UNEP/POPS/INC.2/6. On Thursday, 9 September, the Legal Drafting Group reported to Plenary that it had cleared articles on reporting (Article L), settlement of disputes (Article N), and the COP (Article O). The Group agreed the compliance article (Article M) needed further consideration and the article on the relationship with other conventions (Article N bis) was of a sensitive policy nature.

In Plenary on Friday, 10 September, Legal Drafting Group Chair Szell submitted a background note on adoption and amendment of annexes (Article R). Three options were presented. The first was to have the amendment to annexes enter into force for all parties that have not “opted-out” on the expiry of one year from the date of the communication of the amendment by the Depositary. The second option added an “opt-in” mechanism, as described in the article on process for adding new chemicals to the convention, regarding amendment of annexes for the listing of POPs. The third option offered consensus and automaticity as a mechanism to amend annexes. Szell explained that the opt-out and opt-in options allow countries time for national parliamentary scrutiny before an amendment enters into force, while amendments enter into force automatically after a specified period under the consensus and automaticity procedure. He stated that all three options are not mutually exclusive and can be used together.

Other articles considered by the Legal Drafting Group but not submitted for discussion in Plenary were:

  •  the establishment and the functions of the Secretariat (Article P);

  •  amendments to the convention (Article Q);

  •  the right of the parties to vote (Article S);

  •  signatures (Article T);

  •  ratification, acceptance, and approval or accession (Article U);

  •  entry into force (Article V);

  •  the prohibition of reservations (Article W);

  •  withdrawal from the convention (Article X);

  •  identifying the Secretary-General of the United Nations  as the Depositary of the convention (Article Y); and

  •  authentic texts in all of the six official UN languages (Article Z).


In closing Plenary on Saturday, 11 September, delegates considered text submitted by the contact group on adverse effects/reasons for concern and agreed to forward it to INC-4 for negotiation. Delegates then made general statements on outstanding issues.

NICARAGUA requested putting on record support for having intersessional regional meetings to improve efficiency and save time. The US called for INC-4 consideration of its  proposal on a process for adjusting schedules in annexes on prohibition, restriction and byproducts. CANADA called attention to its proposal on provisions for evaluating the effectiveness of the convention. SWITZERLAND reaffirmed its offer to fund COP-1 in a developing country and declared Geneva as a candidate for the location of the POPs Secretariat. CANADA and INDIA welcomed the COP-1 offer. SWEDEN announced a workshop it will sponsor, with a developing country partner, in January/February 2000 on financial sources. CAMEROON reiterated its proposal to hold a regional workshop on POPs management.

Chair Cardenas introduced the report of the Implementation Group (UNEP/POPS/INC.3/L.2) and noted the Group’s request for the Secretariat to perform intersessional work to further examine examples of CHMs from other conventions. She stated the group began deliberations on the proposals to amend the articles on technical assistance and financial assistance and mechanisms, but that delegates needed more time to review proposals. She said the proposals will be annexed to the report in the form in which they were presented. Buccini pressed that the technical and financial assistance articles are critical to the convention and suggested the Bureau of the Implementation Group produce a Chair’s paper for INC-4, based on the proposals submitted and discussions held at INC-3. He further suggested that the Implementation Group meet early at INC-4 and follow a set time-frame. The CZECH REPUBLIC, on behalf of the Eastern European Group, CANADA, FINLAND, the EU, the US and the GAMBIA agreed to this as a useful starting point for INC-4. The Plenary adopted the Implementation Group report (UNEP/POPS/INC.2/L.2).

Chair Charles Auer (US) presented the report of the contact group on measures to reduce or eliminate releases, which will be annexed to the report of the meeting. The US proposed that countries submit comments on issues in the CEG report not covered at INC-3 before INC-4 for compilation by the Secretariat. The Secretariat agreed to address this.

Buccini introduced the report of the meeting, as contained in UNEP/POPS/INC.3/L.1, UNEP/POPS/INC.3/L.1/Add.1 and UNEP/POPS/INC.3/L.1/Add.2. CAMEROON asked for text to reflect that the contact group did not have time to address the annex on byproducts. CANADA wanted to reflect that there was agreement the Secretariat would research the meaning of "best available techniques" and provide it to the Legal Drafting Group at INC-4. ICELAND stressed that the research should not be limited to best available techniques, but should include other terms to address the issue. On national implementation plans, NEW ZEALAND added that some stressed the need for a clear obligation on each party to develop a plan. MALI added that a number of delegations requested technical and financial assistance for developing plans. The US added that one delegation noted the need to reconsider this article after deciding on the issue of national action plans on byproducts.

On criteria, CANADA added a separate paragraph stating that one delegate reiterated the broad interpretation of toxicity and ecotoxicity described in the CEG report and proposed that the expression be defined in the convention using the CEG's language. On information exchange, the US added that some delegations stressed the need to protect confidential business information in this process. On views expressed by NGOs, inclusion of a statement by the ICC calling for, inter alia, elimination and cost-effective alternatives was requested. WWF requested inclusion of its statement calling for the use of a two-annex approach for prohibition and severe restriction in order to highlight restricted substances and expedite movement to the annex on prohibition. He also included text reiterating an earlier statement made by the Peoples' Task Force on Military Base Cleanup, stating that POPs contamination of military lands should be addressed in the convention. An NGO coalition inserted language to reflect its intervention stating the need for public access to accurate information regarding POPs production, use, trade and contamination.

In reference to one representative's suggestion that the preamble should reflect the transboundary effects of POPs on health and the environment, CANADA specified regions that may be particularly susceptible to POPs, such as the Arctic. To the provision noting comments on country efforts and developing country needs, CANADA added that negative effects of POPs were most acute near generation points so that it was in all countries' interests to address domestic sources of POPs. The Plenary adopted the report of the meeting with these amendments.

In closing remarks, COLOMBIA, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, IRAN, on behalf of the Asia Pacific Group, the CZECH REPUBLIC, on behalf of Central and Eastern Europe, FINLAND, on behalf of the EU, CAMEROON, on behalf of the African Group, ZAMBIA, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, and AUSTRALIA, on behalf of JUSCANZ, expressed gratitude to Switzerland for its hospitality and to the Secretariat for its excellent intersessional work and for the documents it provided. Chair Buccini stressed the convention’s promotion of environmental efforts through respect and understanding, noting that this requires strong optimism, continuance in the spirit of cooperation, free exchange of information and patience in listening and expressing positions. He thanked Jim Willis and the UNEP Chemicals Secretariat, and gaveled the meeting to a close at 7:15 PM.


THE HALFWAY STATION ON THE CONVENTION TREK: As INC-3 gazed whimsically back at the successes of INC-2 and trekked upwards and onwards toward the coveted pinnacle of a POPs convention, its progressive steps were shortened somewhat as the fluctuating winds of divergent positions left it exposed on several key issues such as obligations and technical and financial assistance. The check in progress indicated that INC-3 had entered the steeper terrain and higher altitude that characterize multilateral environmental negotiations as they move from discussion of general concepts to detailed textual negotiations. As the gradient of the incline became increasingly apparent, INC-3 caught its breath, took stock of its position, reevaluated and looked stoically toward the intersessional period for necessary regrouping and fresh supplies of ideas.

A STEP UPWARDS; A STEP ONWARDS: To its credit, INC-3 made headway in a number of areas, including flushing out possible language and content of articles and annexes in the sections on the key obligations of the convention. Another step forward was strong support for measures to prevent newly developed chemicals that exhibit POPs characteristics from being produced. INC-3 also made progress in developing the standard procedural articles. The Legal Drafting Group was able to churn out text on 15 of the non-contentious “stock” articles of the convention. While these provisions may not be “pivotal,” they add to the structural bedrock upon which a convention is built. There were also notable changes in positions on dioxins which many felt showed a real effort to put posturing aside and address the issues in earnest. Language on continuing minimization seemed to strike middle ground for some countries and reconciled the more polarized camps of INC-2 and reflected a more “congenial” mood with countries working together to move forward on the more difficult issues.

Discussions clarified countries’ positions on technical assistance and financial assistance and mechanisms, viewed by many as the "crux" of the convention, and allowed delegates to plot possible ways to proceed with the climb. Debate in the working group revealed the deepest crevices to be traversed, namely whether existing resources are sufficient or if new resources must be identified and whether a new mechanism should be established to provide funding. With regard to technical assistance, there was broad support for the development of a clearing-house mechanism, however, developing countries emphasized that information on existing donors alone would not be adequate and stressed the need for a strong commitment on the part of donors before agreeing to the other obligations within the convention.

Upon hearing several countries request the establishment of a financial mechanism akin to that of the Montreal Protocol, several OECD countries balked at the idea of trying to proceed along that trail, cautioning that this would take time, possibly many years, impeding immediate access to funds, and arguing that such a mechanism could actually result in less resources as donors could dismiss requests by directing them to a fund that might not be able to address all necessary needs. The OECD countries preferred exploring the familiar terrain of existing funds. Developing countries were reluctant to follow such a lead without safety clamps in place, especially considering the strong obligations contained in other articles.

BASE CAMP DILEMMAS: At various points throughout the week, proceedings were slowed by a lack of consensus on how to proceed. Delegates were forced to take an extended stay at base camp midweek over text on procedure and how to forward it to the Legal Drafting Group, impeding progress on discussions related to waste management, destruction of stockpiles, public information and research, development and monitoring.

Some delegates also pointed to a lack of coordination among regional groups as a factor keeping the proceedings from setting out to achieve new heights. A lack of coordination was clear from the start in the Implementation Group when regional groups were not ready to put their position on the negotiating table and seemed tentative to enter the fray with a uniform position. One delegate expressed frustration when draft text was circulated for the articles on technical and financial assistance on the final day of the meeting.

Disagreement over language on the degree of commitment the convention will include also hindered movement. While some delegates identified the goal of elimination as a necessary aspiration to ensure a prevention and elimination treaty rather than merely a chemicals management and control treaty, others suggested this would not provide a workable and practicable treaty. Exemptions were another point of contention. Some delegates feel that the number of exemptions being proposed will create so many loopholes that governments will have little problem avoiding obligations. Others claimed a treaty would be impossible without exemptions for some cases, such as articles in use or public health emergencies.

Delegates also began to see that the ease of progress from following the path of the PIC Procedure was starting to dwindle as the fact that issues related to the POPs are far more complex and the obligations countries may undertake in the future POPs convention are far more demanding than information exchange.

STRIKING OUT FOR THE SUMMIT: The peak of the mountain is in sight, yet there are still rocky paths to climb, particularly considering the fact that the goal of INC-4 is to leave with a complete negotiating text. One delegate said negotiations haven't really begun yet and the issues are still being framed. This means that there is a great deal of work to do during the intersessional period so that countries and regional groups can come to Bonn in March fully prepared to put concrete proposals on the table.

As is often the case in these types of situations, delegates are holding their cards tightly until later in the game. There is still some difficult climbing ahead to reach agreement on key issues and healthy debates and compromising will be necessary in Bonn and South Africa to avoid potential avalanches. The potential stumbling stones on the INC trail include obligations on technical and financial assistance, public health emergency exemptions, PCBs elimination, potential loopholes with proposed exemptions, disposal of stockpiles, trade of banned chemicals and verification and compliance. Delegates are leaving the INC-3 base camp under no illusions as to the difficulty and complexity of the climb ahead. As one experienced negotiator soberly observed, each INC makes the last one seem relatively easy. There will be little doubt that this holds true for the ascent to Bonn and beyond to the summit in Stockholm in 2001.


15TH SESSION OF THE FAO GROUP ON REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS: This meeting will be held from 27-29 October 1999 in Rome and will produce recommendations on procedures for the preparation and revision of guidelines and manuals and on the revision of the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. For information, contact: Gero Vaagt, FAO; tel: +39 (6) 5705 5757; fax: +39 (6) 5705 6347; e-mail:

WMO/EMEP WORKSHOP ON MODELING OF ATMOSPHERIC TRANSPORT AND DEPOSITION OF POPS AND MERCURY: This workshop will take place in November 1999 at WMO Headquarters in Geneva. For more information, contact: Marina Varygina, Meteorological Synthesizing Centre East; tel: +7 (95) 124 4758; fax: +7 (95) 310 7093; e-mail:

BASEL CONVENTION ON HAZARDOUS WASTES: The Fifth Conference of the Parties (COP-5) to the Basel Convention will be held in Basel, Switzerland, from 6-10 December 1999. For more information, contact: Secretariat of the Basel Convention; tel: +41 (22) 979 8218; fax: +41 (22) 797 3454; e-mail:; Internet:

FIRST SESSION OF THE CHEMICALS REVIEW COMMITTEE FOR THE ROTTERDAM CONVENTION: The First Session of the Chemicals Review Committee for the Rotterdam Convention on PIC is tentatively scheduled for January or February 2000 in Geneva. For more information, contact: Gerold Wyrwal, FAO; tel: +39 (6) 5705 2753; fax: +39 (6) 5705 6347; e-mail:

PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS INC-4: The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee for an International Legally Binding Instrument for Implementing International Action on Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants (INC-4) will take place from 20-25 March 2000 in Bonn. For more information, contact: UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC); tel: +41 (22) 979-9111; fax: +41 (22) 797-3460; e-mail:; Internet:

THE FIFTH CONSULTATION ON THE PREVENTION AND DISPOSAL OF OBSOLETE AND UNWANTED STOCKS OF PESTICIDES: This meeting is scheduled for May 2000 in Rome to consider new provisions for the prevention and disposal of obsolete stocks and to update/prepare various technical guidelines in support of the FAO Code of Conduct. For information, contact: Ale Wodageneh, FAO; tel: +39 (6) 5705 5192; fax: +39 (6) 5705 6347; e-mail:

FAO GROUP ON REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS: The 16th session of the FAO Group on Registration Requirements will be held from 22-29 May 2000 in Grenada, Spain, and will prepare FAO Specifications under the new procedure for a range of individual pesticides. The 17th session will be held from 26-30 June 2000 in Rome and will consult on the progress of the revision of the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides and prepare recommendations on procedures for the preparation and revision of guidelines and for the revision of the Code.  For information, contact: Gero Vaagt, FAO; tel: +39 (6) 5705 5757; fax: +39 (6) 5705 6347; e-mail:

THIRD MEETING OF THE INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CHEMICAL SAFETY: The Third Meeting of the International Forum on Chemical Safety will be held from 14-20 October 2000 in Salvador (Balina), Brazil. For more information, contact: Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety; tel: +41 (22) 791 3650/4333; fax: +41 (22) 791 4875; e-mail:; Internet:

SEVENTH PIC INC MEETING: The seventh session of the PIC INC is tentatively scheduled for September or October 2000 in Geneva to prepare the Conference of the Parties. For more information contact: Niek Van der Graaf, FAO; tel: +39 (6) 5705 3441; fax: +39 (6) 5705 6347; e-mail:; Internet:

25TH SESSION OF THE JOINT MEETING ON PESTICIDES RESIDUES: The 25th Joint Meeting of the FAO Panel of Experts on Pesticides Residues in Food and the Environment and the WHO Expert Group on Pesticides Residues will be held from 11-29 September 2000 in Geneva. For information contact: Amelia Tejada, FAO; tel: +39 (6) 5705 4010; fax: +39 (6) 5705 6347; e-mail:

GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION ON THE REVISION OF THE FAO CODE OF CONDUCT: This consultation is tentatively scheduled for 2-6 October 2000 in Rome and will consider the draft revised FAO Code of Conduct on Distribution and Use of Pesticides. For more information contact: Niek Van der Graaf, FAO; tel: +39 (6) 5705 3441; fax: +39 (6) 5705 6347; e-mail:

Further information