Latest Basel Convention conference moves towards complete toxic waste dumping ban on the global South « Mining Blog

Latest Basel Convention conference moves towards complete toxic waste dumping ban on the global South

23. October 2011,

Last week, at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN’s “Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal” (held in Cartagena, Colombia), 178 countries agreed to work towards early enforcement of the so-called Basel Ban Amendment.

This will prohibit all exports of hazardous wastes, including electronic wastes (containing mercury, cadmium et al) and obsolete ships (containing asbestos and other toxic materials), from rich to poor countries.

According to India’s ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), thanks to “incessant diplomatic efforts”, the world has “witness[ed] a turning point”. It ascribes this to an initiative by Indonesia and Switzerland, backed by many environmental groups.

If 17 more parties to COP now ratify the Ban Amendment, it will enter into force. So far 71 countries have done so.

China, the European Union, and developing countries strongly supported the Amendment. Encouragingly, “traditional opponents” like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and India changed their earlier stance. Although the US administration didn’t, it’s not itself a Party to the Convention.

Importantly, says TWA, the Basel Convention “has regained its original mandate to regulate shipbreaking… given the fact that rate of disposal of end of life ships on Alang beach, Gujarat, Chittagong beach, Bangladesh and Gadani, Pakistan has gathered momentum, unmindful of the death of migrant, casual and vulnerable workers and the ongoing contamination of South Asian beaches”.

It may be remembered that, in 2009, Trafigura beheer – the Netherland’s associate of the world’s second biggest nonferrous metals commodities trader (Glencore is the premier in the field) – was accused of knowingly allowing one of its ships in 2006 to ferry extremely toxic wastes, ultimately dumping them on the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), thus causing several deaths and injury to many citizens of the West African country. See:

TWA concludes: “It is hoped that [the recent COP agreement] will pave the way for eliminating all hazardous waste through adoption of substitutes of hazardous materials, Green Design, Clean Production based on Life Cycle Assessment”.See:

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