Hundred and Twenty-seventh Session
Rome, 22 – 27 November 2004
Entry into Force of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
C. Current status
1. The Rotterdam Convention entered into force on 24 February 2004. The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) was convened 20 – 24 September 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland. The purpose of this document is to inform Council of the entry into force of the Rotterdam Convention, the outcome of the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties and the related activties of the Secretariat.
2. The purpose of the Convention is to promote a shared responsibility and cooperative action among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides. It facilitates information exchange about their characteristics while the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure provides developing countries with an additional tool for managing them more effectively. The PIC procedure permits countries to prevent shipments of certain hazardous chemicals from entering their territory unless they have explicitly agreed to their import.
3. In 1989, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council and the FAO Conference included the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure for pesticides and other chemicals that are banned or severely restricted in the "Amended London Guidelines on the Exchange of Information on Chemicals in International Trade" and the "International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides," respectively. Since then, UNEP and FAO have jointly executed the voluntary PIC procedure.
4. In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Agenda 21, Chapter 19, made recommendations for the conclusion of a legally-binding instrument on PIC. In para. 19.39d1 UNCED recommended that governments and relevant international organizations, with the cooperation of industry, “should implement the PIC procedure as soon as possible and, in the light of experience gained, invite relevant international organizations such as UNEP, GATT, FAO, WHO and others in their respective area of competence to consider working expeditiously towards the conclusion of legally-binding instruments.”
5. In line with the guidance provided by the Hundred-and-seventh Session of the FAO Council in November 19942 and the Eighteenth Session of the Govering Council of UNEP in May 1995, UNEP and FAO convened five meetings of the INC/PIC between March 1996 and April 1998. Governments, inter-governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations attended the negotiating sessions. The negotiations were chiefly funded through voluntary contributions by a number of negotiating parties.
6. In considering the status of the negotiations, the Twenty-ninth Session of the Conference of FAO in 19973 and the fifth special session of the Governing Council of UNEP in 1998:
7. The negotiations were concluded at the fifth session of the INC/PIC in March 1998 and a final Convention text was drafted. This text was subsequently adopted as the “Rotterdam Convention on the prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade” by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries on 10 September 1998 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
8. In considering the outcome of the negotiations, the Thirtieth Session of the FAO Conference in 1999 expressed its satisfaction at the successful conclusion of the negotiations and the adoption of the Convention in Rotterdam. It favourably viewed the cooperation of FAO and UNEP both in the negotiations of the Convention and the joint provision of the Interim Secretariat. The Conference supported the primary role of FAO and UNEP in the Interim Secretariat and the Convention Secretariat.4
9. Since September 1998 there have been six further sessions of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee. The eleventh and final session was convened on 18 September 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee prepared for the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties and identified further chemicals for inclusion in the interim Prior Informed Consent procedure.
10. The Convention entered into force on 24 February 2004. The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) was convened 20 – 24 September 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland. As of September 2004, 77 Parties had ratified the Convention. This number is expected to increase in future, given that 165 countries participated in the voluntary interim PIC procedure.
11. At its first meeting the COP successfully adopted a number of important decisions concerning: rules of procedure; dispute settlement; financial rules; establishment of a technical subsidiary body, the Chemical Review Committee; measures for the transition from the voluntary interim PIC procedure to the legally binding procedure as mandated under the Convention; the regional delivery of technical assistance and the addition of a further 14 chemicals to the PIC procedure (Annex III of the Convention). The COP also approved a budget for 2005 and an indicative scale of assessment for the apportionment of expenses for 2005 and provisionally for 2006.
12. Article 19 of the Convention states that the secretariat function for the Rotterdam Convention shall be performed by the Executive Director of UNEP and the Director-General of FAO subject to such arrangements as shall be agreed by them and approved by the COP. The COP took a decision regarding the arrangements between UNEP and FAO to jointly perform Secretariat functions. The Decision invites the Executive Director and the Director General to make arrangements for the performance of the Secretariat functions, possibly based on the same elements as in the earlier arrangements, and to present it to the COP for consideration and approval, if possible, at its second meeting. It also invites the Executive Director and the Director-General to continue to perform the Secretariat functions for the Convention based on the existing arrangements until the COP has approved the new arrangements.
13. The COP took a separate decision to accept the offer of the Governments of Italy and Switzerland to host jointly the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention in the cities of Geneva and Rome. The Decision notes that the United Nations headquarters agreements already in force with Italy and Switzerland will continue to apply to the Secretariat, and accepts the additional elements included in the offer of Italy and Switzerland for inclusion in the framework of those practical arrangements.
14. The first meeting of the Chemical Review Committee is scheduled for February 2005 in Geneva, Switzerland and the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties for September 2005 at FAO Headquarters, Rome.
15. In order to respond to the requirements in the decisions concerning the Secretariat a plan will be developed and negotiated with UNEP in the next six months. The 33rd Session of the FAO Conference in November 2005 will be informed of progress in the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention and the decisions regarding the arrangements for the Secretariat.
1 “Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development,” (UNCED) Rio di Janeiro,Brazil 1992.
2 CL 107/REP, 1994, paras 44-50.
3 C 1997/REP (29th), paras 64-69.
4 C 1999/REP (30th), paras 72-76.