Pesticide Registration Toolkit

Institutional aspects of the GHS

The first edition of GHS was adopted in December 2002, and it has been updated, revised, and improved on a biannual basis. The current 10th edition can be found on the GHS web site.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development, at its meeting in Johannesburg on 4 September 2002, encouraged countries to implement the GHS as soon as possible. However, many countries have not done so to date. The lack of legal systems for classification and labelling of chemicals based on GHS seems to have hindered implementation in low and middle-income countries; and even in those countries where GHS is implemented, it only applies in some sectors, often only the workplace.

There are many benefits to global implementation of the GHS. It is anticipated that application of the GHS will:

Legally binding provisions for the GHS may be developed at the national level through:

  • legally binding standards
  • technical regulations under sector-specific legislation, such as for pesticides
  • multisectoral technical regulations

Once the GHS is made mandatory for pesticides in a country this will guide labelling requirements, strengthen risk communication and facilitate trade with other countries which have implemented the GHS. Further guidance on different options for national implementation of GHS can be found on the web site of UNITAR.

FAO and WHO recommend, in their Guidance on Good Labelling Practice for Pesticides, that classification and labelling of pesticides according to the GHS replaces older classification systems such as the WHO Recommended classification of pesticides by hazard.