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IISD Reporting Services (IISD RS) has provided daily reports and web coverage of the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Minamata Convention on Mercury October 9-11, and its preceding preparatory meeting October 7-8. A joint summary report of both events will be posted October 14. To download our reports, please click the HTML/PDF icons below.
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Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries
on the Minamata Convention on Mercury
and preceding Preparatory Meeting

7-11 October 2013 | Kumamoto and Minamata, Japan

Daily web coverage (click on the following links to see our daily web pages)

The Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Minamata Convention on Mercury and its preceding open-ended intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting were held from 7-11 October 2013 in Kumamoto and Minamata, Japan.

In February 2009, the Governing Council of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) adopted a decision to develop a global legally-binding instrument on mercury pollution. An intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) was established, which developed the text over five sessions. Governments agreed to the text of the Minamata Convention on Mercury on 19 January 2013, at the fifth session of the INC.

Participants in the Preparatory Meeting finalized the text of resolutions for the Diplomatic Conference on Monday and Tuesday, 7-8 October. On Wednesday, 9 October, delegates and dignitaries visited the city of Minamata, Japan to learn more about Minamata's experience with large-scale mercury poisoning and attend ceremonies honoring those lost to Minamata disease.

Wednesday evening, opening ceremonies were held for the Diplomatic Conference, which continued on Thursday and Friday, 10-11 October. The Minamata Convention on Mercury was officially opened for signature on Thursday 10 October, and in its first two days was signed by 91 countries and the European Union. Delegates also heard statements by Governments, IGOs and NGOs.

Download the IISD RS summary of this event in HTML or PDF format.

Convention Group
Staff from the UNEP Secretariat, UN Offices-Nairobi and Office for Legal Affairs posed with the Minamata Convention.
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Highlights for Monday, 7 October 2013

The intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting convened Monday in Kumamoto, in preparation for the Diplomatic Conference on 10 and 11 October. After the official opening and organization of work, delegates had the opportunity to consider the draft resolutions for consideration by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries, including on the arrangements for the interim period between the signing of the instrument and its entry into force.

Delegates discussed, inter alia: references to enhanced cooperation and coordination with the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the establishment of a technical expert group to develop guidance on best available techniques and best environmental practices for emissions, and interim financial arrangements. Chair Fernando Lugris, Uruguay, presided over a first full reading of the text of the resolutions, which required extensive discussion beyond the scheduled close of plenary at 6pm. A contact group and three informal groups continued to meet through the evening to resolve outstanding issues.

Full web coverage available here: 7 Oct

Dais Shot

A view of the dais during plenary.

Tim Kasten
Tim Kasten, UNEP.
Fernando Lugris
Chair Fernando Lugris, Uruguay.
Jim Willis
Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions.
Felipe Ferreira
Felipe Ferreira, Brazil.
David Buchholz
David Buchholz, United States.
Jimena Nieto
Jimena Nieto, Colombia.
Zaigham Abbas
Zaigham Abbas, Pakistan.
Franz Perrez
Franz Perrez, Switzerland.
Information table
Conference staff at an information table in a shopping area.
Happy Birthday, Masa!
News of UNEP legal officer Masa Nagai's birthday brought applause.
Highlights for Tuesday, 8 October 2013

On Tuesday, the intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting of the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries reconvened in Kumamoto, to continue negotiations on the draft resolutions to be forwarded to the Diplomatic Conference.

Chair Fernando Lugris invited reports on the discussions which took place in a contact group and three informal groups on Monday evening Delegates continued debating resolutions on: arrangements in the interim period, most notably regarding the cooperation and coordination with the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and the functions of the Secretariat; financial arrangements; matters pertaining to other international bodies; and establishing a technical expert group to develop required guidance on emissions.

The Meeting resolved all outstanding issues before lunch, and in the afternoon delegates adopted the draft resolutions and the report of the meeting. In the evening, delegates attended the Swiss Break, a reception hosted by the government of Switzerland.

Full web coverage available here: 8 Oct

Jamil Mtoor
Jamil Mtoor, Palestinian State.
Michihiro Oi
Michihiro Oi, Japan.
Sezaneh Seymour
Sezaneh Seymour, United States.
Elsa Miranda
Elsa Miranda, Indonesia.
Jacob Duer
Jacob Duer, UNEP INC team coordinator.
Patricio Torres
Amb. Patricio Torres, Chile.
Anne Daniel
Anne Daniel, Canada.
Vladimir Lenev
Vladimir Lenev, Russian Federation.
Mohammed Kashashneh
Mohammed Kashashneh, Jordan.
Bureau and Secretariat

Members of the Bureau and Secretariat posed for a photo after the close of plenary.

Swiss Break
Participants chatted over food and drinks at the Swiss Break.
Swiss Break DJ
A DJ played music for the Swiss Break.
Highlights for Wednesday, 9 October 2013

On Wednesday, the Government of Japan hosted a field trip for delegates to Minamata as part of the ceremonial opening of the Diplomatic Conference.

The day’s program started with a remembrance to the victims of Minamata Disease at the Minamata Eco-Park. This park is built on fill, some of which is confined mercury-contaminated sludge removed from Minamata Bay. Participants laid a floral tribute at the Cenotaph for Minamata Disease Victims and the ministerial delegates took part in a tree planting ceremony.

Participants were treated to a lunch prepared by Minamata community members and had the opportunity to learn about the many activities that have made Minamata the first Eco-Capital of Japan.

In the afternoon, delegates visited the grounds and the Minamata Disease Archive and Municipal Museum, and had the opportunity to hear Minamata Disease victims share their story and met with local civil society, government and industry groups.

Delegates then attended the Ceremonial Opening at the Minamata City Culture Center, where they heard opening speeches, including a video address by Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, and welcoming remarks by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director.

Full web coverage available here: 9 Oct

Floral Tributes
Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, and Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Environment, Japan, laid floral tributes at the Cenotaph.
Floral Tributes
Dignitaries laid floral tributes at the Cenotaph.
Tree Planting

Dignitaries planted seedlings to extend the forest in the Eco-Park.

Keiki Taiko

Local children played taiko drums.

Shinzō Abe
In a video message, Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, welcomed the adoption of this landmark convention that aims to eradicate mercury pollution, noting that Japan is now using only 0.4% of the mercury it had used in the 1960s. He pledged US$2 billion over the next three years to assist developing countries in tackling environmental problems.
Ikuo Kabashima
Ikuo Kabashima, Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, said that the failure of yesterday can be the lesson of today and we must never forget that government put economic development ahead of the health of its citizens. He pledged to work tirelessly for a mercury-free society.
Katsuaki Miyamoto
Katsuaki Miyamoto, Mayor of Minamata, said that because economics took precedence over life and the environment, humans and many other creatures lost their lives. He declared the Minamata Convention a major step for humankind and urged its swift entry into force.
Masami Ogata
Masami Ogata, Minamata Disease Municipal Museum Storyteller, shared his and his family’s suffering, including his struggle to be certified as a Minamata Disease Victim.
Rimiko Yoshinaga
Rimiko Yoshinaga shared her family's experiences with Minamata Disease.
Highlights for Thursday, 10 October 2013

On Thursday morning, the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries adopted the Minamata Convention on Mercury in Kumamoto, Japan, with one head of State, 48 State ministers and other high-level representatives of countries in attendance. Opening remarks were made by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director; Bakary Kante, Director of the Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC), who delivered remarks on behalf of UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon; and Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of the Environment, Japan.

The Conference elected Nobuteru Ishihara as Conference President, and Terezya Pius Luoga Huvisa (United Republic of Tanzania) as Rapporteur, with Sargon Lazar Slewa Binzezzo (Iraq), Abdou Nassur Madi (Comoros), Gheorghe Salaru (Republic of Moldova), Anne-Rose-Marie Juganaru (Romania), Izabella Teixeira (Brazil), Robert Pickersgill (Jamaica), Sean Sherlock (Ireland), and Franz Perrez (Switzerland) as members of the Bureau.

In the afternoon, the Final Act and the Convention were opened for signature, after which 86 countries and the European Union signed the Convention, and 23 countries signed the Final Act only. Participants heard initial country statements and in the evening, attended a reception at Kumamoto Castle, hosted by the Government of Japan, the Prefecture of Kumamoto, and the Kumamoto City. UNEP Chemicals launched the website of the Convention (www.mercuryconvention.org) to track progress towards entry into force.

Full web coverage available here: 10 Mon

Nobuteru Ishihara
Plenipotentiary Conference President Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Environment, Japan, signed the Final Act.
Achim Steiner
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, Executive Secretary of the Plenipotentiary Conference, signed the Final Act.
Tim Kasten
UNEP Chemicals Branch Head Tim Kasten, signed the Final Act.
Jean Omer Beriziky
Jean Omer Beriziky, Prime Minister of Madagascar, signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Fumio Kishida
Fumio Kishida, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Japan, signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Wylbur Simuusa
Wylbur Simuusa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zambia, signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Abdou Nassur Madi
Abdou Nassur Madi, Minister of Production, Energy, Environment, Industry and Artisans, Comoros.
Ricardo Hugo Salvioli
Ricardo Hugo Salvioli, vice-Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Argentina.
Raphael Edou
Raphael Edou, Minister of Environment, Benin.
Traditional Dancer
A Japanese traditional dancer during the evening reception.
Traditional Dancer
A Japanese traditional dancer during the evening reception.
Barrel Hammering

With a little help from Kumamoto Prefecture's bear mascot Kumamon, dignitaries ceremonially hammered open barrels of sake at the evening reception.

Highlights for Friday, 11 October 2013

On Friday morning, the Conference of Plenipotentiaries continued to hear country statements about the adoption and signing of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Many countries paid tribute to the victims of Minamata Disease, underscoring the significance of the Minamata Convention for contributing to the sound management of mercury. Countries also conveyed their gratitude to the Government of Japan for hosting the Conference, and to INC Chair Fernando Lugris for steering the negotiations to a successful completion.

In the afternoon, the Conference heard the remaining statements from countries, IGOs and NGOs. An additional five countries signed the Convention, bringing the total of signatories to 92. In their closing statements, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and Conference President Ishihara expressed their gratitude to participants, interpreters, and the conference staff and volunteers that facilitated the success of the Conference. Conference President Ishihara gaveled the meeting to a close at 6:09 pm.

Full web coverage available here: 11 Oct

Dais Shot

A view of the dais early in plenary.

Le Duong Quang
Le Duong Quang, Vice Minister of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam, signed the Convention.
Yahya Ngam
Amb. Yahya Ngam, Mauritania, signed the Convention.
Wan Bentai
Wan Bentai, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Environmental Protection, China.
Ephraim Kamuntu
Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister of Water and Environment, Uganda.
Nino Sharashidze
Nino Sharashidze, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, Georgia.
Fish Presentation
With Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Environment, Japan, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, presented the "Pez-Peste" statue to Katsuaki Miyamoto, Mayor of Minamata, for permanent display at the Minamata Disease Municipal Museum.
Gavel Shot
Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Environment, Japan, gaveled the Conference of Plenipotentiaries to a close.
Conference Poster
Staff provided conference posters to participants.
Santiago Villalpando
Santiago Villalpando, Treaty Section Chief, prepared to transport the Convention to UN Headquarters in New York, where it will remain open for additional signatures.
ENB Team
Your IISD-RS Earth Negotiations Bulletin reporting team, with UNEP's Tim Kasten. L-R: Richard de Ferranti, writer, Australia; Pia Kohler, writer, Switzerland; Tim Kasten; Suzi Malan, team leader, South Africa; and Dan Birchall, digital editor, United States.
Daily web coverage (click on the following links to see our daily web pages)
Related Links
Meeting resources

*Meeting website

*Meeting documents

*DipCon provisional annotated agenda

*DipCon scenario note

*DipCon rules of procedure

*Provisional annotated agenda for the preparatory meeting

*Scenario note for the preparatory meeting

*Rules of procedure for the preparatory meeting

*Text of the Minamata Convention on Mercury for adoption by the DipCon

*The Mercury Club

*Host country website


IISD RS resources

Building an Effective Future-proof International Chemicals and Waste Regime, Guest Article written for IISD RS Chemicals and Wastes Policy & Practice website by Franz Perrez, Ambassador, Head of International Affairs Division of Switzerland’s Federal Office for the Environment, President of COP11 of the Basel Convention

IISD RS coverage of the Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP11), Sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP6), Sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP6) and Second simultaneous extraordinary meetings of the three Conferences of the Parties to the three conventions (ExCOPs2), 28 April - 10 May 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

IISD RS coverage of Twenty-seventh Session of the UNEP Governing Council (GC27)/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF), 18-22 February 2013, UN Office, Nairobi, Kenya

IISD RS coverage of Mercury INC5, 13-18 January 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

IISD RS coverage of Mercury INC4, 27 June - 2 July 2012, Punta del Este, Uruguay

IISD RS coverage of the Twelfth Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council (GCSS)/GMEF, 20-22 February 2012, UNEP headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya

IISD RS summary and analysis of Mercury INC3, 31 October - 4 November 2011, UNEP headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya (English: HTML - PDF) (French: HTML - PDF) (Spanish: HTML - PDF)

*IISD RS coverage of UNEP GC26/GMEF, 21-24 February 2011, UNEP Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya

IISD RS summary and analysis of Mercury INC2, 24-28 January 2011, Chiba, Japan (English: HTML - PDF) (French: HTML - PDF) (Spanish: HTML - PDF)

IISD RS summary and analysis of Mercury INC1, 7-11 June 2010, Stockholm, Sweden (English: HTML - PDF) (French: HTML - PDF) (Spanish: HTML - PDF)

IISD RS coverage of the First Simultaneous Extraordinary Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (ExCOPs1), and GCSS-11/GMEF, 22-26 February 2010, Bali, Indonesia

IISD RS brefing note of the Ad-hoc Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) to Prepare for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Mercury, 19-23 October 2009, Bangkok, Thailand (HTML - PDF)

*IISD RS coverage of the Second Meeting of the Ad Hoc OEWG to Review and Assess Measures to Address the Global Issue of Mercury, 6-10 October 2008, UNEP Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya

*IISD RS coverage of the First Meeting of the Ad Hoc OEWG to Review and Assess Measures to Address the Global Issue of Mercury, 12-16 November 2007, Bangkok, Thailand

*IISD RS chemicals management page

*IISD RS coverage of UNEP GC meetings

*Chemicals-L - A news and announcement list on chemicals news and policy developments

*Chemicals and Wastes Policy & Practice - A Knowledgebase of International Activities Adressing Chemicals and Wastes Policy

*Linkages Update - Bi-weekly international environment and sustainable development news
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