Rotterdam Convention (PIC)

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is the first international agreement on the import and export of chemicals. It covers industrial chemicals, plant protection products and biocides. The convention was adopted on 10 September 1998 in Rotterdam and entered into force on 24 February 2004 when the 50th country ratified it. 164 countries have now ratified the convention. This reflects the importance the international community attaches to the control of cross-border chemical trade. The Rotterdam Convention’s primary aim is to ensure that countries importing hazardous chemicals have adequate information about the handling and evaluation of these substances, including information on toxicology, ecotoxicology and safety. To this end, the Convention does not totally prohibit trade in the chemicals under its purview, but instead makes them subject to a qualified information and notification system, the Prior Informed Consent procedure.

PIC - Prior Informed Consent

Under the PIC procedure, businesses can only import hazardous chemicals if the import country has been informed about the characteristics of the chemicals (in particular their risks for human health and the environment) and consented to import. Generally, the export countries are industrialised and the import countries are often developing or emerging economies with insufficient evaluation and monitoring capacities.

The ninth Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention took place from 29 April to 10 May 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The major outcome was the adoption of a mechanism on convention compliance. After more than 15 years of difficult negotiations, this COP established an institutional procedure for ensuring compliance with the convention provisions. In addition, two new substances, hexabromocyclododecane and phorate, were listed in Annex III of the convention. Unfortunately, consensus could not be reached on listing chrysotile (white asbestos) or plant protective agents previously proposed for listing, carbosulfan, acetochlor, fenthion and paraquat. Although this outcome was to be expected for chrysotile, the result is nonetheless disappointing because the scientific evidence of its harmful effects, particularly on human health, is indisputable.

Last updated: 28.05.2019

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