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WECF features in RBRS Conventions COPs Highlights

ENB -Volume 15 Number 228 | Thursday, 14 May 2015, Geneva, Switzerland

14.05.2015 | ENB -Volume 15 Number 228 | Thursday, 14 May 2015



Chrysotile asbestos: The Secretariat introduced the documents (UNEP/FAO/RC/COP.7/11 and Add.1), noting this issue had been debated at COPs 3-6, without achieving consensus. President Khashashneh reminded parties that listing a chemical does not prohibit trade, but provides countries with relevant information to make informed decisions.

ZIMBABWE, PAKISTAN, KYRGYZSTAN, KAZAKHSTAN, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and CUBA opposed listing. INDIA also opposed listing, but suggested “controlled use” of chrysotile asbestos. BELARUS, a non-party, opposed listing. The INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF TRADE UNION ORGANIZATIONS “CHRYSOTILE” also opposed listing, arguing instead for controlled use under International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 162.

JORDAN, NEPAL, GEORGIA, BENIN, PERU, COLOMBIA, MALAYSIA, NORWAY, HONDURAS, SERBIA, LIBERIA, NIGERIA, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, MOLDOVA, SAUDI ARABIA, MALDIVES, ARGENTINA, URUGUAY, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, NIGER, SWITZERLAND, MONGOLIA, the REPUBLIC OF CONGO, the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, ISRAEL, CAMEROON, KENYA, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, PANAMA, TONGA and EL SALVADOR supported listing.

While recognizing the challenges it would pose to specific sectors in its country, BRAZIL said sound scientific evidence on health and environmental impacts had led it to support listing. The US, a non-party, also urged listing.

AUSTRALIA, cited “bitter experience” with health, environmental and economic impacts of chrysotile asbestos long after it had been banned and, supported by NEW ZEALAND, the COOK ISLANDS, SWITZERLAND and TONGA, said it was time to ask if the RC objectives were being met when the only chemicals allowed to be listed are those no longer traded. He introduced a CRP (UNEP/FAO/RC/COP.7/CRP.10) that, inter alia, suggests intersessional work on a possible framework that enables information flows for those substances that meet the listing criteria but remain unlisted. The EU concurred that, if chrysotile asbestos was not listed at RC COP7, it was time for a “frank discussion about the credibility of the RC.”

WOMEN IN EUROPE FOR A COMMON FUTURE, on behalf of the ROTTERDAM CONVENTION ALLIANCE (ROCA), said listing was being blocked to protect industry interests. She introduced an Indian worker who, after working with chrysotile asbestos for 40 years, suffers from asbestosis, and who pleaded for listing of the chemical. IPEN asked how developing countries can be expected to cope without information if a developed country like Australia has had problems with this.

Noting that he has attended COPs for 15 years and has never heard such participation, RC President Khashashneh proposed, and delegates agreed, to refer it to the listing contact group rather than suspend discussion until RC COP8. President Khashashneh also proposed establishing an intersessional working group composed of parties and observers to explore the means by which the objectives of the RC could be achieved in instances in which the COP is unable to reach consensus on listing of chemicals recommended by the CRC. President Khashashneh tasked the contact group with drafting a decision to establish an intersessional group and work plan, and asked the contact group to consider Australia’s CRP on the operation of the RC (UNEP/FAO/RC/COP.7/CRP.10).


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