PANNA: POPs Treaty Achieves 50th Ratification


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POPs Treaty Achieves 50th Ratification

Environmental Health Advocates Worldwide Applaud Sweeping Accord

February 18, 2004

Today, environmental health advocates worldwide celebrate the 50th ratification of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Treaty). This benchmark, reached at surprising speed for such a sweeping accord, brings the global agreement into international law.

"The ratification of this treaty is a true landmark for environmental health," says Monica Moore of Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). "By targeting an entire class of chemicals for global phase out, it moves us a giant step forward in protecting people and the planet."

The POPs Treaty targets an initial 12 chemicals for elimination, all of which are members of a dangerous class of chemicals that does not respect national borders -- persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs can travel great distances, are often toxic at very low levels, and last for many years in the environment and in our bodies. Nine of the initial 12 chemicals are pesticides, the others are products of industrial manufacturing processes (see below for link to June 8, 2001 PANUPs). The treaty was signed on May 23, 2001 by more than 100 nations.

France was the 50th nation to ratify the Stockholm Convention. The treaty will officially "come into force" on May 17, 2004, 90 days following the 50th ratification. The first meeting of the parties to the Convention will be held within a year of that date. Countries that ratify the treaty before this first meeting in early 2005 will be eligible to participate in crucial implementation discussions as well as the scientific review committee that considers the addition of new POPs chemicals to the elimination list.

Ironically the U.S., which was one of the first countries to press for the treaty, has not yet ratified the accord. Implementing legislation has been stalled in Congress for nearly a year, with the major sticking point the question of what to do when new POPs chemicals are targeted for global elimination under the treaty. One proposal under consideration
by Congress gives U.S. EPA complete discretion in taking any action on a domestic ban
when a new chemical is listed under the Stockholm Convention. This approach, which is being promoted by the Bush Administration, effectively de-links the U.S. from any international decisions taken on new chemicals and directly undermines the spirit of the Convention.

The question of how to target new chemicals is particularly important because there are many POPs still in use in the United States that are likely to face elimination under the Stockholm Convention. Three of those on the short list of candidates are pesticides still in use in the U.S.: pentachlorophenol (PCP), lindane and endosulfan.

A powerful force behind the swift ratification of the POPs Treaty has been a global network of non governmental organizations, the International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN). "IPEN played a key role in building the international resolve to get rid of these dangerous chemicals," says PANNA's Kristin Schafer. "This unprecedented mobilization of NGOs from affected communities around the world made this a better treaty and led directly to its rapid ratification." PANNA was a founding member of IPEN in the mid-1990s.

Resources: PANUPS June 8, 2001, POPs Treaty Signed, NGOs Call for Early Ratification,
http://www.panna.org/resources/panups/panup_20010608.dv.html; Current information on the status of Stockholm Convention signatures and ratification can be found at UNEP's Stockholm Convention Web site: http://www.pops.int; The International Pops Elimination Network web site http://www.ipen.org; Additional information on POPs chemicals: http://www.panna.org, http://www.chemicalbodyburden.org.

Contact: PANNA

PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don't always get coverage by the mainstream media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

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