A number of international instruments have been developed that address the aspects of chemical and waste management. The instruments themselves and the infrastructure that supports their implementation are specifically geared towards helping developing countries. However, any country seeking support from donors or intergovernmental agencies to deal with obsolete pesticide disposal and prevention will be expected to ratify and implement the instruments below in their national legislation.
The Code is the worldwide guidance document on pesticide management for all public and private entities engaged in, or associated with, the distribution and use of pesticides. It is designed to provide standards of conduct and to serve as a point of reference in relation to sound pesticide management practices, in particular for government authorities and the pesticide industry. By following the provisions of the Code, developing countries can make significant steps at preventing the accumulation of obsolete pesticide stocks.
The Basel Convention deals mainly with the control of transboundary movements of hazardous waste as well as with the environmentally sound management and minimization of hazardous waste. Obsolete pesticides clearly fall within the scope of the Convention. An area of interest to the Parties to the Basel Convention concerns the export of obsolete pesticides considered hazardous wastes in the exporting country for reuse in importing countries. The Conference of Parties of the Basel Convention has given the Secretariat a mandate to help solve obsolete pesticide problems in developing countries.
The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is designed to help prevent the unwanted import of banned, severely restricted or extremely hazardous pesticides and chemicals to developing countries. These pesticides make up a high proportion of obsolete pesticide stockpiles. The Convention works by requiring exporters to notify the relevant authorities in importing countries when they wish to supply pesticides or other chemicals that have been included in the PIC list. Chemicals on the PIC list have been banned or severely restricted in at least two countries from different geographical regions. In addition, countries can propose chemicals that are particularly hazardous under conditions of use that apply in their country.
The Rotterdam Convention is an important tool in helping countries to regulate pesticide and other chemical imports and use. Such measures can in turn help to prevent the creation and accumulation of obsolete pesticide stocks.
Countries are strongly encouraged to ratify the Rotterdam Convention.
The Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention (Convention C184) adopted by the conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) addresses the protection of workers in the agricultural sector. More people work in agriculture that in any other sector, more workers are injured in agriculture than in any other sector, and pesticides are a major cause of injury and death. In addition more children work in agriculture than in any other sector and they are differently and particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of chemicals such as pesticides.
A specific section of the convention deals with the sound management of chemicals and advises governments to adopt good management practices for chemicals, to inform users adequately about the chemicals they use and to ensure that adequate mechanisms are in place to safely dispose of empty containers and waste chemicals.
Application of the Convention is an important step in improving pesticide management and preventing some of the problems that arise from pesticide distribution and use in developing countries in particular.
The Stockholm Convention on POPs aims to stop the production and use of chemicals that are included in the Convention. At present there are 12 chemicals of which 9 are pesticides, one is an industrial chemical (PCB) and two are by-products of manufacture or destruction of certain chemicals (dioxin and furan). Many of the pesticide POPs feature prominently in obsolete pesticide stockpiles because they are old and are generally banned for use in most countries.
A precondition for receiving support from programmes that aim to support developing countries in dealing with POPs is ratification of the Stockholm Convention.
The POPs pesticides are aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene (also an industrial chemical), mirex and toxaphene.
The IMDG Code was developed as a uniform international code for the transport of dangerous goods by sea. It covers such matters as packing, container traffic and stowage, with particular reference to the segregation of incompatible substances.
The Code lays down basic principles; detailed recommendations for individual substances, materials and articles; and a number of recommendations for good operational practice, including advice on terminology, packing, labelling, stowage, segregation and handling, and emergency response action. The provisions of the Code offer reliable advice to a whole range of industries and services including manufacturers, packers, shippers, feeder services such as road and rail, and port authorities.
The Code has become the standard guide to all aspects of handling dangerous goods and marine pollutants in sea transport. As such it is recommended to governments for adoption or for use as the basis for national regulations.
The Code, which was first published in 1965, has undergone many changes over the years, both in format and content, in order to keep up with the rapid expansion of the shipping industry. It is therefore essential for relevant government authorities to keep abreast of new developments.
Certain regional agreements, as well as international instruments, may have a bearing on actions taken by a country to deal with its obsolete pesticides and implement prevention measures. Examples include the:
- Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes within Africa;
- Izmir Protocol on the Prevention of Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal; and the
- Waigani Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region.
Countries should ensure that they are aware of, signed up to and implementing the appropriate measures associated with these regional agreements.