WECF at the COP 5 in Geneva
WECF attended from 20-24 of June the 5th Meeting of the Parties on the Rotterdam Convention, the COP5. WECF attended the meeting on behalf of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance (ROCA), which represented civil society at the conferenc and was shocked by Canada’s behaviour
25.06.2011 |Chantal van den Bossche
WECF attended from 20-24 of June the 5th Meeting of the Parties on the Rotterdam Convention, the COP5. WECF attended the meeting on behalf of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance (ROCA), which represented civil society at the conferenc and was shocked by Canada’s behaviour.
WECF was disappointed by the Canadian government's move to oppose listing chrysotile asbestos at Rotterdam Convention “Now we have to wait for another two years to be able to protect the lives of thousands of people around the world” In a press release WECF’s Alexandra Caterbow stated: " Canada used shameful tactics. We were very close to reach consensus until Canada broke its silence. Now we have to wait another two years for the next COP, to achieve protection for many people."
Canada played a lead role in blocking the inclusion of asbestos under the UN treaty the Rotterdam Convention, which would force exporters like Canada to warn recipient countries of the health hazards of asbestos. When inhaled, asbestos fibers can lead to a rare form of lung cancer for which there is no cure. Canada said they "actively promote safe and controlled use of the substance domestically and internationally," but the fact is asbestos can't be used safely in developing countries.
Canada is one of the main exporters of chrysotile asbestos, a hazardous substance which more than 50 countries worldwide have stopped using and which the World Health Organisation estimates to cause around 100.000 deaths each year.
The decision to list chrysotile asbestos on Annex III of the Rotterdam convention needs to be taken in consensus. Because Canada blocked the listing, it is impossible for countries to know whether asbestos is exported in their country or not. No prior information is required from the exporters. Therefore especially developing countries and countries with economies in transition are not able to protect their people from asbestos, which is highly carcinogenic, as they are not informed of the hazards and are not able to refuse to accept it if they believe they cannot handle it safely.
Soon after, Canada was awarded with a ‘Cancer Culprit Award’ from the anti-asbestos group CancerCulprits.org, identifying Canada as a “rogue nation in the company of an unprincipled few”.Unless consensus among countries can be achieved, chrysotile asbestos will remain off Annex III, contrary to the recommendation of the UN convention's scientific expert committee. In Canada, many have expressed their disbelief with the Harper government’s move. Canada itself severy restricts the use of asbestos within its own country.
More documents on the COP 5:
Closing statement by Alexandra Caterbow on behalf of the ROCA Alliance
WECF press release:" WECF disappointed by Canadian governments move to oppose listing chrysotile asbestos at Rotterdam Convention this week"
Cancer Culprit Awards: "Was your country given a cancer culprit award?"
WECF side event at the COP 5: "Women make a difference - even on a so called men's issue"
More information can be found on the website of the ROCA Alliance
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