A United Nations treaty commonly known as the Rotterdam Convention was signed in September 1998 to promote shared responsibilities to safeguard human health and the environment from harmful effects of hazardous chemicals. Under the Rotterdam Convention, countries nominate chemicals for inclusion in the PIC (prior informed consent) list.
Meaning of Rotterdam Convention List
The PIC listing is not a ban. The chemicals included on the list are subject to extensive information exchange and obligations related to international trade. Exporting nations are required to provide documentation on the nature of the substance so that importers can make informed decision as to whether or not they are capable of using it safely.
At the Rotterdam Convention meeting in Geneva last week, the Canadian delegation single-handedly derailed a long-standing attempt to include chrysotile asbestos on the Convention’s prior informed consent list. Despite support from 142 out of 143 Parties to the Convention, the listing was blocked due to a 100% unanimity requirement.
Rotterdam Convention Alliance member Laurie Kazan-Allen, Coordinator of International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) has been campaigning since 1999 to achieve justice for all asbestos victims and a global ban on asbestos. Commenting on recent developments, Ms. Kazan-Allen said,
“What we saw last week in Geneva…was pure evil. Canada is now a rogue state and should be dealt with in the same way as other administrations which have breached the acceptable level of behavior expected of civilized societies.”
Calls for Action
At a seminar in Belgium yesterday organized by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament in collaboration with trade unions and non-governmental organizations, Ms. Kazan-Allen made these requests of the Members of the European Parliament:
1. Issue a denunciation of the obstructive behavior of the Canadian delegation at the Rotterdam Convention meeting. Measures should be considered such as sanctions and trade boycotts which would translate outrage into action.
2. Challenge the $58 million loan guarantee that the Quebec government offered the international consortium that plans to open a new asbestos mine in Quebec.
3. Lobby the European Commission and Directorate General (DG) for Health and Consumers, DG Environment, DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, and DG Justice to explore all possible options for effecting a change in Canada’s asbestos policy.
4. Raise concerns about Canada’s reckless endangerment of human life, especially the lives of vulnerable people in asbestos-consuming countries, at all possible forums.
5. Place on record support for a WHO Framework Convention on Asbestos Control and to work with their WHO and ILO partners to progress this initiative.
Kazan Law strongly supports these calls and suggests that all organizations and individuals join with us in supporting the United Nations protocol to protect vulnerable populations from the hazards of asbestos.