Rotterdam Convention

The Rotterdam Convention (formally, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade) is a multilateral treaty to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals. The convention promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans. Signatory nations can decide whether to allow or ban the importation of chemicals listed in the treaty, and exporting countries are obliged to make sure that producers within their jurisdiction comply.

Rotterdam Convention
The logo of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat
TypeUnited Nations treaty
Signed10 September 1998
LocationRotterdam, the Netherlands
Effective24 February 2004
ConditionNinety days after the ratification by at least 50 signatory states
DepositarySecretary-General of the United Nations
LanguagesArabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish

In 2012, the Secretariats of the Basel and Stockholm conventions, as well as the UNEP-part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, merged to a single Secretariat with a matrix structure serving the three conventions.[1] The three conventions now hold back to back Conferences of the Parties as part of their joint synergies decisions.

The ninth meeting of the Rotterdam Conference[2] was held from 29 April to 10 May 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Substances covered under the Convention

Substances proposed for addition to the Convention

The Chemical Review Committee of the Rotterdam Convention decided[3] to recommend to the seventh Conference of the parties meeting in 2015 that it consider the listing of the following chemicals in Annex III to the Convention:

  • Chrysotile asbestos (discussion deferred from the previous meeting of the Conference of the Parties).
  • Fenthion (ultra low volume (ULV) formulations at or above 640 g active ingredient/L)
  • Liquid formulations (emulsifiable concentrate and soluble concentrate) containing paraquat dichloride at or above 276 g/L, corresponding to paraquat ion at or above 200 g/L
  • Trichlorfon

State parties

As of October 2018, the convention has 161 parties, which includes 158 UN member states, the Cook Islands, the State of Palestine, and the European Union. Non-member states include the United States.

Discussion about chrysotile asbestos

At the 2011 meeting of the Rotterdam Convention in Geneva, the Canadian delegation surprised many with a refusal to allow the addition of chrysotile asbestos fibers to the Rotterdam Convention.[4][5][6][7] Hearings are scheduled in the EU in the near future to evaluate the position of Canada and decide on the possibility of a punitive course of action.[8][9][10]

In continuing its objection, Canada is the only G8 country objecting to the listing. Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine also objected. Vietnam had also raised an objection, but missed a follow-up meeting on the issue.[11] In taking its position, the Canadian Government contrasted with India, which withdrew its long-standing objection to the addition of chrysotile to the list just prior to the 2011 conference. (India later reversed this position in 2013.)[12]

Numerous non-governmental organizations have publicly expressed criticism of Canada's decision to block this addition.[13][14][15][16][17]

In September 2012, Canadian Industry minister Christian Paradis announced the Canadian government would no longer oppose inclusion of chrysotile in the convention.[18]

Eight of the largest chrysotile producing and exporting countries opposed such a move at the Rotterdam Conference of Parties in 2015: Russia, Kazakhstan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Cuba, and Zimbabwe.[12]

See also


  1. "Joint Portal of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions > Secretariat > Overview". Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  2. "Meetings of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions".
  3. Chemicals recommended for listing in Annex III.
  4. Canadian Cancer Society Reacts to Conservative Harper Administration's Position on Chrysotile, 23 June 2011
  5. Canadian comedienne fails to see humor in Canadian position on treaty
  6. UN Delegates Shocked at Canadian Stand on Chrysotile, 24 June 2011
  7. Canadian Physicians criticize own government
  8. O'Neil, Peter (8 June 2011). "European Parliament slams Canada's oilsands, asbestos, sealing industries". Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  9. "MEPs favour EU-Canada trade deal, but worry about seals, tar sand oil and asbestos". Europa (web portal). Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  10. "UPDATE: European Parliament to be asked to take sanctions against Canada on asbestos, June 30". Council of Canadians. 29 June 2011. Archived from the original on 3 August 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  11. Canada Wins 2-year Stay on Potential Ban of Exports of Chrysotile Asbestos to India
  12. "India's contentious stand on Chrysotile asbestos is a cause for concern for environmentalists". Hindustan Times. 3 May 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  13. Women In Europe for a Concerned Future criticize Canada's stance in 2011
  14. 2011 Rotterdam Convention Decision criticized by environmental groups
  15. Canadian Cancer Society denounces decision by Canadian Government
  16. International Ban Asbestos Secretariat issues statement critical of Canadian decision
  17. Indian Center for Science and Environment issues statement criticizing Canada
  18. "Canada won't oppose asbestos limits". CBC News. CBC/Radio-Canada. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
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