Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Coventions
The Secretariats of the Basel and Stockholm conventions are administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and are located in Geneva, Switzerland. The Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention is jointly served by UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and is based in Geneva, and in Rome, Italy.
The mandates of the Secretariats are laid out in Article 16 of the Basel Convention, Article 20 of the Rotterdam Convention and Article 19 of the Stockholm Convention. The principal functions are to prepare for and service meetings of the conferences of the parties and its subsidiary bodies, to receive and convey information, to assist or facilitate assistance to parties upon request and to coordinate with other international bodies. The budget of the Secretariats and their staffing are determined by the conferences of the parties and are funded by contributions from parties, based on the United Nations scale of assessment.
The Basel Convention (on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal), is the broadest and most significant treaty on hazardous wastes currently in effect. It was set up to address problems arising from the indiscriminate dumping of hazardous wastes in developing countries by developed countries. During its first decade (1989-1999), the Convention set up a framework for controlling the international movements of hazardous wastes and developed the criteria for the classification and environmentally sound management of these wastes. The Convention had 185 parties as of 1 December 2016.
The Rotterdam Convention (on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade) reflects the dramatic growth in chemicals production and trade during the past three decades which raised both public and ofﬁcial concern about the potential risks posed by hazardous chemicals and pesticides. Countries lacking adequate infrastructure to monitor the import and use of these chemicals are particularly vulnerable. In response to these concerns, UNEP and FAO jointly introduced the 1989 Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. This programme has helped to ensure that governments have the information about hazardous chemicals that they need to assess risks and make informed decisions on chemical imports. The Convention entered into force on 24 February 2004. The Convention had 156 parties as of 1 December 2016.
The Stockholm Convention (on Persistent Organic Pollutants) or 'POPs' treaty sets up measures controlling the production, import, export, disposal, and use of POPs. The first substances identified as POPs under the treaty were eight pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex, and toxaphene), two industrial chemicals (PCBs and hexachlorobenzene, which is also a pesticide), and two unwanted by-products of combustion and industrial processes (dioxins and furans). The Convention had 180 parties as of 1 December 2016.
The Secretariat facilitates the implementation of the Convention and related agreements. It also provides assistance on legal and technical issues, gathers statistical data submitted by parties in accordance with the reporting obligations under the Convention and conducts training on the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes. In its second decade, the Secretariat is focusing on:
- promoting the minimization of hazardous wastes;
- further reducing the movements of hazardous wastes;
- preventing and monitoring illegal traffic;
- improving institutional and technical capabilities; and
- further developing regional centres for training and technology transfer.
The Rotterdam Convention addresses the export and import of hazard- ous chemicals and, by implication, their use and regulation. It deals with chemicals that are banned or severely restricted in some countries (mainly developed countries) but that are still exported to other countries (particularly to developing countries). The Convention empowers poorer nations to make their own informed decisions on toxic chemical im- ports by providing information on: 1) other countries’ decisions to ban or severely restrict certain chemicals; 2) other countries’ experiences with severely hazardous pesticide formula- tions; 3) information on which to base their own bans/restrictions and to announce them internationally; 4) the means to stop unwanted imports; 5) the requirement that exporting countries respect other countries’ decisions on imports.
Parties to the Convention are obligated to eliminate the production and use of listed pesticides, with the exception of DDT, the use of which is limited to vector control only; eliminate the production of PCBs immediately and their use by 2025 subject to the provisions; prevent the introduction of new chemicals with POPs characteristics; prevent and minimize releases of unintentionally produced POPs; take measures to ensure that POPs wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.
Basel Convention - The Secretariat collaborates with other UN organizations, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and industry on such issues as the disposal of used oils, PCBs, biomedical and health care wastes, electronic wastes, or the stockpiling of obsolete pesticides.
Rotterdam Convention - Joint administration by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Chemicals Branch; cooperation with WCO, WTO, WHO, UNITAR and others.
Stockholm Convention - with WHO on DDT use; FAO and the Basel Convention Secretariat on management and disposal of POPs stockpiles and waste; and the World Bank, Global Environment Facility and UNDP on Convention implementation issues. An ad hoc joint working group on enhancing cooperation and coordination among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions was recently established to promote synergies among the three Conventions at the programmatic and administrative levels.
Basel: Text of the Convention; Technical Guidelines; Guidance Manuals on technical, legal and capacity building issues; newsletters; public information material. See the website
Stockholm: Ridding the World of POPs: A Guide to the Stockholm Convention on Persistant Organic Pollutants; Guidelines on best available techniques and best environmental practices relevant to Article 5 (unintentional production); Guidelines for developing national implementation plans for the Stockholm Convention; Standardized Toolkit for Identification and Quantification of Dioxin and Furan Release, etc. See the website.