Thursday, 14 May 2015

Rotterdam Convention COP 7 (May 13th 2015). ROCA /WECF Side Event on “Chrysotile Asbestos and the question: Who pays the Bill?”

More than 70 people attended a successful, informative and emotional Side Event at COP 7 in Geneva
Testimonials and Dialogue

The ROCA/WECF Side event “Chrysotile Asbestos and the question: Who pays the Bill?” with its testimonials of victims who suffer from lifelong health effects from the exposure to chrysotile asbestos showed once more the urgent need to listing chrysotile asbestos to Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention. The event, attended by more than 70 people, was a real contrast to the numerous interventions of Parties in the morning plenary of COP7, opposing the listing of chrysotile asbestos by disseminating the claim that they are not aware of any health impacts resulting from the exposure to asbestos.

 The event was accompanied by a key note message from Elizabet Paunovic, head of WHO European Centre of Health and Environment, calling all Parties of the COP finally to take responsibility and vote for listing. ROCA/WECF screened WHO’s new film “Chrysotile Asbestos – Voices from South-East-Asia” which makes the voices of asbestos victims heard. A highlight was the presence of the Indian worker Sharad Vittnal Sawant, who pleaded for listing of the substance. He and his wife suffer, after working with chrysotile asbestos for 40 years, from asbestosis and made the audience to witnesses of what kind of incredible impact chrysotile asbestos has and who in reality has to pay the bill.
The panel of speakers consisted of Tran Tuan from the Vietnam Research and Training Centre for Community development, South Korean activist and researcher Yeyong Choi, and Sanjiv Pandita from the Asia Monitor Resource Center. The presentation of Tran Tuan pointed out that action by Civil Society could move things forward in a positive way and very fast, like the Vietnam example is showing. Yeyong Choi delivered insights on how the asbestos industry shifts their production to countries with less strict regulation, and this effects workers and residents in the factories neighborhood. Sanjiv Pandita pointed out how important objective medical investigations are to make sure asbestos related diseases like cancer, asbestosis get know as this.

 The side event was organized by the Rotterdam Convention Alliance (ROCA) and was facilitated by  Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF). The WECF's Johanna Hausmann chaired the session, a taxing job not made any easier by the boorish behaviour of Russian Chrysotile trade Union representatives who tried to interrupt the proceedings on more than one occasion. They accused WHO being a propaganda organization due to the fact WHO is supporting movies such as the one screened in the side event which shows the real impacts of chrysotile asbestos.

The panelists and many speakers from the plenary, such as representatives from WHO, ILO, victim action networks, trade unions etc. attending the side event were in agreement regarding the crucial importance of listing chrysotile asbestos on Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention; they called on delegates to make every effort to resolve the current impasse over chrysotile in order to protect human health.

WECF / ROCA intervention at COP7 of Rotterdam Convention

Mr President, thank you for giving us the floor, I speak on behalf of WECF as a member of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance. 
(held by Alexandra Caterbow)

Distinguished delegates, the objective of the Rotterdam Convention is to protect health and the environment.

Instead we are witnessing blocking of chrysotile asbestos for the fifth time, to protect industry interests instead of protecting health and environment. We see a very active industry here, but we also recognize that this industry is a dying one. So many countries are thinking about banning chrysotile asbestos now, since without listing, the Rotterdam Convention does not allow them to access their right of prior informed consent and to protect their borders.

The listing was not supported because there is a problem of science, nor a problem of meeting the criteria of the convention, but a problem of lack of political will.
We see that there are countries, that are quite new parties to the convention, who are using their status to block the convention - this is shameful. Some of the blocking countries committed at the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Italy to eliminate all asbestos related diseases and now they want to prevent other countries to access their right on prior informed consent.

Those opposing the listing of chrysotile asbestos, state that listing would cause extra costs. This argument is wrong, as it omits the enormous health and economic costs caused by chrysotile asbestos, which is already up in the hundreds of billions of dollars. While industry takes the profits, the cost is put on the shoulders of the public taxpayer and the hundreds of thousands sick victims.

We strongly urge Parties to continue efforts towards listing of chrysotile asbestos, including inter-sessional work and in cooperation with civil society.

I would like to invite you to our side event in room 3 during lunch time today. And I would like to introduce you now to Mr SHARAD VITTNAL SAWANT, a chrysotile asbestos victim from India. He came here to speak to you all, because you are the ones who can make a huge difference this week.

Thank you

Mr Sawant:
I am SHARAD VITTNAL SAWANT; I come from Bombay, India, I have worked for 40 years at the factory Hindustan Ferodo (now Hindustan Composits), which uses chrysotile asbestos. I am suffering from asbestosis and my wife as well. Another 400 of my colleagues have been diagnosed as well. I came here to request you to put chrysotile asbestos in the PIC List of the Rotterdam Convention.

NGO colleagues are standing in solidarity behind Mr Sawant 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

ROCA Position Paper COP 7 in Russian

Position Paper

In preparation to the COP 7 of the Rotterdam Convention in May 2015, we would like to present the Position Paper of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance.

ROCA Position Paper COP 7 in English

Position Paper

In preparation to the COP 7 of the Rotterdam Convention in May 2015, we would like to present the Position Paper of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance.


In preparation to the COP 7 of the Rotterdam Convention in May 2015, we would like to present the FAQ Paper on Chrysotile and Rotterdam Convention Alliance.

Expose of the sabotage of the Rotterdam Convention

The Rotterdam Convention conference is all about Russia and Kazakhstan
Kathleen Ruff,
In 2013, almost a million tonnes of asbestos was exported by a tiny number of asbestos mining countries.
  •  Just two countries – Russia and Kazakhstan – were responsible for 80% of global asbestos export.
  • Russia on its own was responsible for close to two thirds of total global asbestos export.
What this means is that the attack on the Rotterdam Convention to prevent chrysotile asbestos being listed as a hazardous substance is really all about Russia and Kazakhstan. They are sabotaging the Convention because they want to continue practicing irresponsible trade and to export chrysotile asbestos with no safety warnings required.
Protecting profits, not people’s lives, is their mission.
Brazil, which exported 125,832 tonnes of asbestos in 2013, has not to date ever opposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance.
For more please click here.