Overview

Preventing and combating illegal traffic and trade in hazardous chemicals and wastes under the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm provide for a range of measures to achieve their goals, including setting of conditions and procedures to be followed for the import and export of the covered chemicals and wastes. These conditions and procedures are expected to ensure that importing States are not confronted with hazardous chemicals and wastes that they do not wish to receive, for instance because they have prohibited their use or because they are unable to manage them in an environmentally sound manner. The control of the international trade of chemicals is covered by the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, while trade of wastes is primarily regulated under the Basel Convention.

International trade in hazardous chemicals and wastes is considered legal, as far as the conventions are concerned, when the conditions and procedures embodied in these conventions are complied with. For instance, under the Basel Convention, a Party is not allowed to import hazardous wastes from a non-Party, unless a specific agreement is concluded. In a similar way, imports and exports of POPs included in the Stockholm Convention are allowed only for the purpose of environmentally sound disposal or for a use which is permitted by the importing State. Other requirements for trade to be considered “legal” may be imposed by other international treaties as well as by the national legal framework of a country: such requirements must therefore also be contended with in order to determine whether a particular shipment is legal.

At the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Wastes and their Disposal, the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Chemicals held from 24 April to 05 May 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, parties adopted decisions BC-13/21, RC-8/14, SC-8/24 on the synergies in preventing and combating illegal traffic and trade in hazardous chemicals and wastes.

“In their decisions, the conferences of the Parties, among other things invited Member organizations of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals, the Basel Convention and Stockholm Convention regional centers, the International Criminal Police Organization, the World Customs Organization, the secretariat of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and relevant global and regional enforcement networks were also invited to provide the Conference of the Parties, through the Secretariat, with information on their activities aimed at preventing and combating illegal traffic and trade in hazardous chemicals and wastes as well as lessons learned from those activities for consideration by the Conference of the Parties at its next meeting. Please visit the page “call for information” for further information.

In their decisions, the conferences of the Parties also invited Parties to share information on their national coordination mechanisms and cases of illegal traffic and trade, and they requested the Secretariat to seek, subject to the availability of resources, comments from Parties and others on further areas, including areas common to two or three of the conventions, in which legal clarity could be improved as a means of preventing and combating illegal traffic and trade in hazardous chemicals and wastes and, based on those comments, to prepare a report, including recommendations, for consideration by the Conference of the Parties at its next meeting. Please visit the page “improving legal clarity” for further information”.