Go to IISD's website

Chemicals Management

About us  *  the ENB team DONATE  *  Activities  Search * Return to Linkages Site

 

 

PIC

 Introduction

  ENB archives

 

Relevant links

  UNEP Chemicals

  SAICM

  Basel

  PIC

  POPs

  IFCS

 

Return to LINKAGES
chemicals management

 

 

 

 

 

 

This page was updated on: 09/12/05
A Brief Introduction to THE Rotterdam pic convention

Over the years, the global community has addressed a number of issues regarding the transboundary movement of chemicals and their management, including through negotiated multilateral environmental agreements. Two recent initiatives that stemmed from the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) are the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (the “Rotterdam PIC Convention”), adopted in 1998, and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (the “Stockholm POPs Convention”), adopted in 2001. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin has covered both of these negotiations (see ENB Archives). This introduction and overview focuses on the PIC negotiation processes.

 

THE ROTTERDAM PIC CONVENTION

 

The Rotterdam PIC Convention is a means for formally obtaining and disseminating information so that decisions can be made by importing countries as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of certain chemicals and for ensuring compliance with these decisions by exporting countries. The Convention promotes shared responsibility between exporting and importing countries in protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of such chemicals and provides for the exchange of information about potentially hazardous chemicals that may be exported and imported. A key goal of the Rotterdam PIC Convention is to provide technical assistance for developing countries and countries with economies in transition to develop the infrastructure and capacity necessary to implement the provisions of the Convention.

 

The Rotterdam PIC Convention currently covers the following pesticides: 2,4,5-T; aldrin; binpacryl; captafol; chlordane; chlordimeform; chlorobenzilate; DDT; dieldrin; dinitro-ortho-cresol (DNOC) and its salts; dinoseb and its salts and esters; 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB); ethylene dichloride; ethylene oxide; fluoroacetamide; HCH; heptachlor; hexachlorobenzene; lindane; mercury compounds; and pentachlorophenol, plus certain formulations of benomyl, carbofuran and thiram; methamidophos; methyl-parathion; monocrotophos; parathion, and phosphamidon. It also covers the following industrial chemicals: five forms of asbestos (actinolite, anthophyllite, amosite, crocidolite, and tremolite); polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs); polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); polychlorinated terphenyls(PCTs); tetraethyl lead; tetramethyl lead; and tris (2,3 dibromopropyl) phosphate. It is expected that more chemicals will be added as the provisions of the Convention are implemented.

 

The Rotterdam Convention entered into force on 24 February 2004. As of September 2005 it had 73 signatories and 98 Parties. For updated information on signatories see http://www.pic.int/en/ViewPage.asp?id=265

 

A HISTORY OF THE PIC NEGOTIATIONS

 

Growth in internationally traded chemicals during the 1960s and 1970s led to increasing concern over pesticides and industrial chemical use, particularly in developing countries that lacked the expertise or infrastructure to ensure their safe use. This prompted the development of the International Code of Conduct for the Distribution and Use of Pesticides by the FAO and the London Guidelines for the Exchange of Information on Chemicals in International Trade by UNEP. Both the Code of Conduct and the London Guidelines include procedures aimed at making information about hazardous chemicals more readily available, thereby permitting countries to assess the risks associated with their use.

 

In 1989, both instruments were amended to include the voluntary Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure to help countries make informed decisions on the import of chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted. Managed jointly by the FAO and UNEP, the PIC procedure is a means for formally obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing countries on whether they wish to receive future shipments of such chemicals. The aim is to promote a shared responsibility between exporting and importing countries in protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of certain hazardous chemicals being traded internationally. The voluntary PIC procedure is designed to:

 

• help participating countries learn more about the characteristics of potentially hazardous chemicals that may be imported;

• initiate a decision-making process on the future import of these chemicals; and

• facilitate the dissemination of these decisions to other countries.

 

Delegates to the 1992 UNCED recognized that the use of chemicals is essential to meet social and economic goals, but also acknowledged that a great deal remains to be done to ensure the sound management of chemicals. Chapter 19 of Agenda 21, the programme of action adopted by UNCED, contains an international strategy for action on chemical safety. Paragraph 19.38(b) calls on States to achieve by the year 2000 the full participation in and implementation of the PIC procedure, including possible mandatory applications of the voluntary procedures contained in the amended London Guidelines and the International Code of Conduct.

 

In November 1994, the 107th meeting of the FAO Council agreed that the FAO Secretariat should proceed with the preparation of a draft PIC Convention as part of the FAO/UNEP Programme on PIC in cooperation with other international and non-governmental organizations. In May 1995, the 18th session of the UNEP Governing Council adopted decision 18/12, which authorized the Executive Director to convene, together with the FAO, an intergovernmental negotiating committee with a mandate to prepare an international legally binding instrument for the application of the PIC procedure. Between March 1996 and March 1998, delegates met five times as an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC).

 

NEGOTIATION OF THE CONVENTION: The first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1) was held from 11-15 March 1996, in Brussels, completing a preliminary review of a draft outline for a future instrument and establishing a working group to clarify the chemicals to be included under the instrument. INC-2 met from 16-20 September 1996, in Nairobi, and produced a draft text of the convention. INC-3 convened in Geneva from 26-30 May 1997. Delegates considered the revised text of draft articles for the instrument, with debate centering on the scope of the proposed convention. At INC-4, held from 20-24 October 1997, in Rome, delegates considered the revised text of draft articles for the instrument. INC-5 was held from 9-14 March 1998, in Brussels. Delegates made progress on a consolidated draft text of articles, and reached agreement on the draft text of the PIC convention and a draft resolution on interim arrangements. 

 

The Conference of the Plenipotentiaries on the Convention on the PIC Procedure was held from 10-11 September 1998, in Rotterdam. Ministers and senior officials from nearly 100 countries adopted the Rotterdam Convention, the Final Act of the Conference and the resolution on interim arrangements. Sixty-one countries signed the Convention and 78 countries signed the Final Act. The resolution on interim arrangements provides for continued implementation of the voluntary PIC procedure during the interim period, in line with the new procedures contained in the Convention.

 

The resolution invites UNEP and the FAO to convene further INCs during the interim period prior to the Convention’s entry into force, to oversee the operation of the interim PIC procedure. Chemicals for which decision guidance documents (DGDs) were circulated during the voluntary procedure are subject to the interim procedure. Those chemicals identified for inclusion, but for which DGDs had not been circulated, are subject to the interim procedure, once adopted by the INC. The resolution invites the INC to: establish an interim subsidiary body to carry out the functions that will be permanently entrusted to a Chemical Review Committee (CRC); define and adopt PIC Regions on an interim basis; adopt, on an interim basis, the procedures for banned or severely restricted chemicals; and decide on the inclusion of any additional chemicals under the interim PIC procedure.

 

INC-6: The sixth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-6) was held from 12-16 July 1999, in Rome. Delegates from 121 countries addressed arrangements for the interim period, and for the implementation of the interim PIC procedure. INC-6 resulted in draft decisions on the definition and provisional adoption of the PIC Regions (Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Near East, Southwest Pacific and North America), the establishment of an interim Chemical Review Committee (ICRC), and the adoption of draft DGDs for chemicals already identified for inclusion.

 

ICRC-1: The first session of the Interim Chemical Review Committee (ICRC-1) took place in Geneva from 21-25 February 2000. The Committee, consisting of 29 government-designated experts in chemicals management from the seven PIC regions, agreed to recommend two chemicals – ethylene dichloride and ethylene oxide – for inclusion in the interim PIC procedure, and forwarded draft DGDs for those chemicals to INC-7 for consideration. ICRC-1 also established a number of task groups to work intersessionally on various issues related to the ICRC’s operational procedures.

 

INC-7: The seventh session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-7) was held from 30 October to 3 November 2000, in Geneva. Delegates addressed, inter alia: implementation of the interim PIC procedure; issues arising out of the Conference of Plenipotentiaries; and preparations for the COP, such as discontinuation of the interim PIC procedure and financial arrangements. Delegates also adopted DGDs for ethylene dichloride and ethylene oxide, as well as a policy on contaminants within chemicals.

 

ICRC-2: The second session of the ICRC was held in Rome from 19-23 March 2001. In light of INC-7’s adoption of a general policy on contaminants within chemicals, the ICRC considered the DGD on maleic hydrazide. It also addressed: ICRC operational procedures; inclusion of monocrotophos in the interim PIC procedure; and the use of regional workshops to strengthen the links between designated national authorities (DNAs) and the work of the ICRC and the INC. It also forwarded recommendations to the INC on cooperation and coordination in the submission of notifications of final regulatory actions, and on the inclusion of monocrotophos in the interim PIC procedure.

 

INC-8: The eighth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-8) was held from 8-12 October 2001, in Rome. The overall goal of INC-8 was to consider the major issues associated with the implementation of the interim PIC procedure, and to prepare for the Convention’s entry into force. During the session, delegates discussed: the work of the ICRC; implementation of the interim PIC procedure; and preparation for the COP. INC-8 resolved a number of complex questions associated with discontinuation of the interim PIC procedure and on conflict of interest in the ICRC, although some issues, such as treatment of non-Parties after discontinuation of the interim PIC procedure and composition of the PIC Regions, were deferred for consideration at INC-9.

 

ICRC-3: The third meeting of the ICRC was held from 17-21 February 2002, in Geneva. The ICRC recommended that three widely-used pesticides and all forms of asbestos remaining outside the PIC procedure be added to the international list of chemicals subject to this procedure. The three pesticides recommended for the PIC procedure were monocrotophos, Granox TBC and Spinox T, and DNOC. Monocrotophos is used in many developing countries to control insects and spider mites on cotton, citrus fruits, rice, maize and other crops, but threatens the health of farm workers, and is also highly toxic to birds and mammals. Granox TBC and Spinox T are mixtures of fungicides and the highly toxic insecticide Carbofuran, and are used by peanut farmers. DNOC is an insecticide, weed killer and fungicide that is toxic to humans as well as other organisms. The five remaining forms of asbestos – actinolite, anthophyllite, amosite, tremolite and chrysotile - were also recommended for addition to the PIC list.

 

WSSD: The sound management of chemicals and hazardous waste was addressed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002. Delegates agreed to text in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation supporting entry into force of the Rotterdam PIC Convention by 2003 and the Stockholm POPs Convention by 2004. The Plan of Implementation also contains commitments to:

 

• reduce the significant effects of chemicals and hazardous waste on human health and the environment by 2020;

• encourage countries to implement the new globally harmonized system for the classification and labeling of chemicals, with a view to having the system operational by 2008;

• promote efforts to prevent international illegal trafficking of hazardous chemicals and hazardous waste, as well as damage resulting from the transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous waste; and

• further develop a strategic approach to international chemicals management based on the Bahia Declaration and Priorities for Action beyond 2000 of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) by 2005.

 

INC-9: The ninth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-9) was held from 30 September - 4 October 2002 in Bonn. The meeting gathered over 230 delegates from more than 100 countries. An important objective at INC-9 was to consider key issues associated with implementation of the interim PIC procedure. As part of this work, delegates addressed various matters raised by the Interim Chemical Review Committee, which advises the INC. At INC-9, delegates agreed to the ICRC’s recommendation to include the chemical monocrotophos in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention, which lists chemicals subject to the PIC procedure. Delegates also agreed to recommendations on the range and description of DNOC, asbestos, and Granox TBC and Spinox T. Another key goal of INC-9 was to continue preparing for the first COP. Delegates made progress on the draft financial rules and provisions, procedures for dispute settlement, mechanisms for handling cases of non-compliance, and discontinuation of the interim PIC procedure.

 

ICRC-4: The fourth meeting of the ICRC was held from 3-7 March 2003, in Rome. The ICRC approved DGDs on five forms of asbestos (actinolite, anthophyllite, amosite, tremolite and chrysotile), DNOC, and Granox TBC and Spinox T, and recommended that they be included in the interim PIC procedure. They agreed that notifications provided on parathion and tetraethyl lead and tetramethyl lead met the Convention’s criteria for addition, and recommended that DGDs be put together on these substances. Other issues addressed during the meeting included updated information on maleic hydrazide, operational procedures for the committee, inconsistencies in the listing of chemicals in Annex III of the Convention and DGDs. The committee also agreed to proposed text for an improved introduction to DGDs.

 

INC-10: The Tenth Session Of The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee For An International Legally Binding Instrument For The Application Of The Prior Informed Consent Procedure For Certain Hazardous Chemicals And Pesticides In International Trade (PIC INC-10) was held from 17-21 November 2003, in Geneva. Delegates to INC-10 resumed consideration of major issues associated with the implementation of the interim PIC procedure and continued their work in preparing for the entry into force of the Convention and for the first Conference of Parties (COP-1).

 

During the meeting, delegates agreed to add four forms of asbestos, DNOC, and dustable powder formulations of benomyl, carbofuran and thiram (formerly referred to as Granox T and Spinox TBC) to the interim PIC procedure. Delegates deferred to the next meeting a decision on including a fifth form of asbestos, chrysotile. Working groups met during INC-10 to discuss issues relating to compliance and to draft financial rules. Issues discussed in these working groups included measures to be taken in response to non-compliance, membership and rules of procedure for the Compliance Committee, and technical assistance trust funds.

 

Other issues discussed included: activities of the Secretariat and review of the situation as regards extrabudgetary funds; issues to arise from the Conference of Plenipotentiaries; outcomes of the fourth session of the Interim Chemical Review Committee, and the assignment of Harmonized System customs codes. Delegates also agreed to hold a �mini-INC� session in advance of COP-1 in order to facilitate the process of transitioning between the interim and legally-binding procedures, including adding further chemicals to the interim procedure in advance of COP-1.
 

ICRC-5: The fifth meeting of the ICRC was held from 2-6 February 2004, in Geneva. The ICRC discussed notifications of final regulatory action to ban or severely restrict five chemicals: dimefox, endrin, endosulfan, mevinphos, and vinclozolin; and considered draft DGDs on tetraethyl lead and tetramethyl lead and parathion. On the notifications, the ICRC did not recommend that any of the five chemicals be subject to the interim PIC procedure, since the notifications did not meet all the criteria listed in Annex II. On tetraethyl and tetramethyl lead and parathion, the ICRC approved draft DGDs and forwarded recommendations for their inclusion in the interim procedure to the INC.

 

INC-11: The eleventh session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an International Legally Binding Instrument for the Application of the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (INC-11) was held on Saturday, 18 September 2004, in Geneva. INC-11 was held to consider the addition of four chemicals to the interim PIC Procedure, a necessary step before considering adding those chemicals to the Convention at COP-1. At INC-11, delegates agreed to add tetraethyl lead, tetramethyl lead and parathion to the interim PIC Procedure, but did not reach consensus on the addition of chrysotile asbestos.

 

COP-1: The first Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (COP-1) was held from 20-24 September 2004, in Geneva. COP-1 added 14 additional chemicals to Annex III of the Convention, including the three added at INC-11. COP-1 also successfully adopted decisions required to make the legally binding PIC Procedure operational. Delegates addressed procedural issues and other decisions associated with the entry into force of the Convention and the setting up of the COP and subsidiary bodies. As part of this work, COP-1 took decisions on: composition of the PIC regions; adoption of financial rules and provisions for the COP, subsidiary bodies, and the Secretariat; establishment of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC); cooperation with the World Trade Organization (WTO); and settlement of disputes. Delegates also voted to establish the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention in Geneva and Rome.

 

CRC-1: The first meeting of the Chemical Review Committee was held from 11-18 February 2005, in Geneva. At the meeting, experts considered 60 nominations for 14 chemicals that were candidates for inclusion in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention. The CRC decided to recommend to the Conference of the Parties the inclusion of one of these chemicals, chrysotile asbestos, in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention and agreed on a schedule to prepare the DGD. In addition, they considered a number of working procedures and policy guidance and raised issues for consideration by the Conference of the Parties such as the difference between risk evaluation requirements conducted under different international bodies, possible confusion between trade names and brand names, the meaning of the term �severely restricted� and the consideration of additional information.