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Indian delegate obstruction on measures concerning Endosulfan

15-19th March 2010: Sixth Meeting of the Chemical Review Committee of the Rotterdam Convention

20.03.2010 | WECF Press Release

At the 6th Meeting of the CRC (Chemicals Review Committee) of the Rotterdam Convention, from March 15th to 19th, Indian delegate undermined the work of the CRC on Endosulfan, an organochlorine pesticides and POP used worldwide. The CRC, an independent body made of experts in chemicals management, whose task is to recommend listing of hazardous chemicals on Annex III of the Convention (substances subject to Prior Informed Consent of the importing country).

WECF and PAN attended the meeting as NGO observers, and noticed, as a majority of CRC members, India’s delegate clear attempts to undermine the efforts of the Committee to examine and conclude fairly on Endosulfan recommendation to the next Meeting of the Parties, in June 2011.

India still opposing Prior Informed Consent on Endosulfan
Among parties of the Rotterdam Convention, 16 countries, including several West African countries and the European Union, have already banned Endosulfan, and send notifications to the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat. By doing so, they recognize that the health and environment impacts of the pesticide are unacceptable, and invite the Rottterdam Convention to take measures to inform other importing countries on the hazards of the pesticide. India, which is an Endosulfan producing country, keeps blocking Endosulfan listing in Annex III, as was the case during last Meeting of the Parties in 2008. India will be represented in the CRC for one more year.

A constant will of preventing decisions on Endosulfan
During the 5-day meeting, Mr Hota, Indian delegate, made numerous attempts, sometimes reversing opinions previously expressed, to undermine the efforts of the Committee to examine and conclude fairly on Endosulfan issues, including New-Zealand Endosulfan notification, which despite its good quality, was not agreed on by the Committee. And yet for the first time ever, a notification took into account the precautionary principle.
Even though all members of the Committee, including Mr Hota, had previously agreed on recommending Endosulfan for listing in Annex III, a vote has been necessary to adopt the recommendation to the Meeting of the Parties to list Endosulfan in Annex III. A vote during which observers were invited to stay out of the meeting room!

Independence of Committee members questioned?
As stated by several Committee members, the CRC is supposed to be an independent body where chemicals issues are examined from an expert point of view, mainly checking if criteria for recommendation of substances to Annex III are met. During the meeting, Mr Hota clearly demonstrated that its position was in line with Indian Chemical Industry position, and not that of an independent expert in chemicals management. As said Dr Meriel Watts, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific: “We urge the Committee to do all that is in its power to prevent the shameful political domineering of one county from preventing the chemical going through for listing under the Convention”.

A poor outcome of CRC 6th meeting denying the right of importing countries to information on hazardous chemicals
Obstruction within the CRC is a very bad sign for the Rotterdam Convention, one of major legal instrument of international chemicals management with Basel and Stockholm conventions. It aims at providing importing countries information on the hazardous chemicals they import, and to which their populations are consequently exposed. Both pesticides and industrial chemicals are covered by the convention. Endosulfan, as well as methylbromide, paraquat, azinphos-methyl and amitraz were examined during CRC 6th meeting. Only azinphos-methyl and endosulfan have been recommended for listing in Annex III of the Convention.
Donald Cooper, Rotterdam Convention Secretatriat, indicated that “the Committee should be overburdened with chemicals submitted to listing in the convention – Annex III is a way of demonstrating the commitment of the governments to protect the health and environment of their populations and of all populations worldwide. This is not the feeling that resorted from the CRC 6th meeting.”

One positive point remains UNEP legal opinion on definition of “intentional misuse”, one of the criteria screened during decision-making process on notifications. WECF strongly supports a fair implementation of the Rotterdam Convention, and a real empowerment of the CRC to decide independently on which hazardous substances should be listed in Annex III. The CRC, as independent body, is supposed to advise the Parties, which, themselves, express national governments’ opinions.

Website of the Rotterdam Convention

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