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HAZARDOUS WASTES:

The two background documents to this discussion were the Secretary-General's report on hazardous wastes (E/CN.17/1994/7) and the Task Manager's report coordinated by UNEP. There was substantial praise for these reports.

Given the considerable overlap between the objectives of the Basel Convention and the recommendations in Agenda 21 relating to hazardous wastes, it is not surprising that the Convention is referred to frequently in the final text. The Commission welcomes the progress achieved by the Basel Convention, urges governments to ratify or accede to it and to support the fund established by its contracting parties. The Commission also invites the Parties to the Convention to ask the Basel Secretariat to develop non-compliance procedures and to undertake case studies of illegal traffic in hazardous wastes.

Malaysia and Australia's concerns about the disposal of tanker sludge and ballast waters appears in paragraph 8 and Sweden and the Philippines' concerns about the military's production and disposal of hazardous wastes is addressed in paragraphs 10 and 11. Both Poland and Germany have offered to host international conferences within the next year (paragraphs 17 and 18).

Many developing countries supported the proposal to request the Parties to the Basel Convention to develop non-compliance procedures. Malaysia proposed that a protocol on liability should be called for, however, this was not reflected in the text. Instead, the final text "invites" Parties to the Basel Convention to consider "developing non-compliance procedures."

The final document (E/CN.17/1994/L.4) also calls on governments to support and enforce the Basel Convention, establish and strengthen national institutions to manage hazardous wastes and to develop laws and undertake case-studies. It outlines priority activities and invites the task manager, UNEP, to continue to monitor progress made in implementing Chapter 20 of Agenda 21. [Return to start of article]