Linkages
NewsNews
Links
Home > Chemicals Management > Introduction to the Basel Convention
Linkages
Recent meetings
Upcoming meetings
Media reports
Key publications
Linkages Update
MEA Bulletin
Climate-L.org
ARC

SAICM
Introduction
ENB Archives

PIC
Introduction
ENB Archives

POPs
Introduction
ENB Archives

BASEL
Introduction
ENB Archives

IFCS
Introduction
ENB Archives

Mercury
Introduction
ENB Archives

Relevant Links
UNEP Chemicals
SAICM
Stockholm Convention
Rotterdam Convention
Basel Convention
IFCS
UNEP Mercury Group
Links to resources
A Brief Introduction to the Basel Convention

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989 and entered into force on 5 May 1992. It was created to address increasing concerns over the management, disposal and transboundary movements of hazardous wastes. The main principles of the Convention are that: transboundary movements of hazardous wastes should be reduced to a minimum consistent with their environmentally sound management; hazardous wastes should be treated and disposed of as close as possible to their source of generation; and hazardous waste generation should be reduced and minimized at source. The Basel Convention covers hazardous wastes that are explosive, flammable, poisonous, infectious, corrosive, toxic, or ecotoxic. The categories of wastes and the hazardous characteristics are set out in Annexes I to III of the Convention. Lists of specific wastes characterized as hazardous or non-hazardous are in Annexes VIII and IX.

As of May 2006, 170 states were Parties to the Convention. The total number of ratifications with the 1995 Ban Amendment stands at 63.
A Brief History of the Basel COPs

This brief review of the Basel negotiations outlines the developments that have taken place since the first Conference of the Parties, held in Uruguay in December 1992. Over the first decade, the focus of negotiations was on setting up a framework for controlling the movement of hazardous wastes across international frontiers, developing the criteria for “environmentally sound management” and establishing a Control System based on prior written notification.

COP-1: At the first Conference of the Parties, held in Piriapolis, Uruguay, from 3-4 December 1992, industrialized countries were requested to prohibit the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes for disposal to developing countries. COP-1 also noted that transboundary movements of wastes destined for recovery and recycling take place in accordance with the requirement that the waste be handled in an environmentally sound manner (Decision I/22). As Decision I/22 was not legally binding, a “pro-ban coalition,” consisting of developing countries, Greenpeace and the Nordic States, urged delegates to adopt a binding amendment to the Convention. The issue of hazardous wastes destined for recycling and recovery was forwarded to the Technical Working Group (TWG) for further study.

COP-2: During the second Conference of the Parties, held in Geneva from 21-25 March 1994, Parties agreed on an immediate ban on the export of hazardous wastes intended for final disposal from OECD to non-OECD countries. Parties also agreed to ban, by 31 December 1997, the export of wastes intended for recovery and recycling (Decision II/12). The issue of whether or not the ban was legally binding was unclear, since Decision II/12 was not incorporated into the text of the Convention itself.

COP-3: At the third Conference of the Parties, held in Geneva from 18-22 September 1995, the ban was adopted as an amendment to the Convention (Decision III/1). This amendment does not use the OECD/non-OECD membership distinction, but bans the export of hazardous wastes for final disposal and recycling from Annex VII countries (EU, OECD, Liechtenstein) to non-Annex VII countries. It thus is not in itself a barrier for non-OECD countries to retain the option of receiving OECD hazardous wastes for recycling purposes by joining Annex VII. This amendment will enter into force following its 62nd ratification. COP-3 further mandated the TWG to continue its work on the characterization of “hazardous wastes” and the development of lists of wastes that are hazardous (Decision III/12).

COP-4: Two of the major decisions adopted at the fourth Conference of the Parties, held in Kuching, Malaysia, from 23-27 February 1998, related to the ban amendment. COP-4 considered proposals by countries, including Slovenia, Israel and Monaco, to join Annex VII and decided that the composition of this Annex would remain unchanged until the ban amendment enters into force (Decision IV/8). In this decision, COP-4 also requests the Secretariat to undertake a study of the issues related to Annex VII. On the clarification of which wastes should be included under the ban, COP-4 considered the proposal put forward by the TWG on List A, identifying wastes characterized as hazardous, and List B, identifying non-hazardous wastes. COP-4 decided to incorporate these lists as Annex VIII and Annex IX, respectively.

COP-5: The Fifth Conference of the Parties (COP-5) met in Basel, Switzerland, from 6-10 December 1999. Delegates adopted a Protocol on Liability and Compensation for damage resulting from transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal and a ministerial declaration on their vision for promoting the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes over the next 10 years, along with a decision setting the next decade’s agenda.

COP-6: The sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-6) was held from 9-14 December 2002, in Geneva, Switzerland. COP-6 opened with a preparatory segment, from 9-11 December, followed by a high-level segment for ministers and heads of delegations, which took place from 12-14 December. The COP considered and adopted decisions on a issues relating to implementation of the Convention, amendment of the Convention and its annexes, and institutional, financial and procedural arrangements. Many of these decisions, including technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of biomedical and healthcare wastes, plastic wastes, waste lead-acid batteries, and the dismantling of ships, had been examined and approved by the Subsidiary Bodies during the intersessional period. After lengthy negotiations, COP-6 also set the budget for 2003-2005, agreed on a compliance mechanism for the Convention, adopted a Strategic Plan, and finalized the Framework Agreement on the legal establishment of the Regional Centers for Training and Technology Transfer.

COP-7: The seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-7) was held from 25-29 October 2004, in Geneva, Switzerland. COP-7 opened with a preparatory segment, from 25-27 October, followed by a high-level segment for ministers and heads of delegations, which took place from 28-29 October. Participants in the high-level segment engaged in an interactive discussion on partnerships for meeting the global waste challenge – the theme of COP-7. A key decision at COP-7 was to apply the terms of the Basel Convention to ships to be dismantled. COP-7 also adopted decisions on definitions of hazardous wastes, hazardous waste characteristics, a number of technical guidelines, guidance elements for bilateral, multilateral or regional agreements, and follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

COP-8: The eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-8) met from 27 November to 1 December 2006, at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya. COP-8 considered reports on activities within the Convention’s mandate and adopted a declaration on e-waste in addition to more than 30 decisions on, inter alia: the 2007-2008 programme of work; the implementation of the Strategic Plan, including consideration of the work and operations of the Basel Convention Regional and Coordinating Centres, as well as the Basel Convention Partnership Programme; synergies and cooperation in the environmental field; e-waste and end-of-life equipment; ship dismantling; legal matters; technical matters; financial issues and the budget; amendments to the general technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management (ESM) of persistent organic pollutants wastes; the guidelines for ESM of wastes; technical guidelines for ESM of a variety of chemicals; the 2007-2008 work programme of the Open-Ended Working Group; and the election of new members of the Compliance Committee and its work programme.

COP-9: The ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-9) to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal convened from 23-27 June 2008, in Bali, Indonesia. COP-9 adopted more than 30 decisions prepared by the Open-ended Working Group on, inter alia: cooperation and coordination; the budget; legal matters; review of Basel Convention Regional Coordinating Centres (BCRCs); the Partnership Programme; the Strategic Plan; and technical matters. Key issues that occupied much of delegates’ time included: adopting the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Joint Working Group on cooperation and coordination; linking the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Convention with the new strategic framework beyond 2010 and, in this context, approving a suitable budget; and legal interpretation of Article 17(5), relating to the entry into force of the Ban Amendment.
SAICM
Introduction
ENB Archives

PIC
Introduction
ENB Archives

POPs
Introduction
ENB Archives

BASEL
Introduction
ENB Archives
IFCS
Introduction
ENB Archives

Mercury
Introduction
ENB Archives
 
Relevant Links
UNEP Chemicals
SAICM
Stockholm Convention
Rotterdam Convention
Basel Convention
IFCS
UNEP Mercury Group
Links to other resources
| Back to IISD RS “Linkages” home | Visit IISDnet | Send e-mail to IISD RS |
© 2010, IISD. All rights reserved.