International chemicals negotiations – UN COPs.

24 April to 5 May, the meetings of the conferences of the parties to 3 Conventions – Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm will take place in Geneva.

The upcoming COPs, who are meeting under the theme “A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and waste” hold the possibility for improving or further aggravating working people’s health.

At the upcoming COP, Resolution UNEP/FAO/RC/COP.8/16/Add.1 will be debated, seeking to amend Article 22 of the Rotterdam Convention, related to the incorporation of substances to the Annex III. This amendment would allow a matter to be included with the approval of 75% of the voting members. This Resolution is sponsored by Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia. If passed, this will bring the Rotterdam Convention into line with Basel and Stockholm, which have a similar procedure.

The International Chrysotile Association is (unsurprisingly) lobbying in opposition to the proposal by a number of African states to modify Article 22 of the Rotterdam Convention. They have blocked the adoption of prior informed consent for the use of asbestos for years by insisting that “consensus” means “unanimity”. In light of working towards a more robust governance of hazardous substances, the international trade union movement, is asking governments to support such an amendment.