Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Another 2 years to wait?

ROCA - final intervention by Alexandra Caterbow:

Thank you Madam President for giving me the floor and for your excellent leadership. We also would like to congratulate India for their brave and encouraging decision to support the listing of chrysotile asbestos. The reconsideration of the Indian policy shows that it is not only possible to change position, but that by doing so a country might also increase its economic wealth.
 We support WHO efforts to assist countries in collecting nationally based information on asbestos threat. We hope that at the next COP there will be no more countries claiming for additional information about deadly consequences of asbestos exposure.
To develop safer asbestos-free alternatives is crucial for countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. They need to do so not only for the health of their citizens but also to protect their economy - financially speaking, asbestos is a dying industry. What we have seen in Geneva this week are the last moves of a dying industry.
For Canada the situation is dramatically different. As a developed country which no longer uses asbestos at home, Canada’s stance at COP5 was, without doubt, politically motivated. Canada has only minor political reasons to oppose the listing, which are ironically very tiny compared to other issues faced by importing countries. So many people will have to suffer from Canadas inability to solve domestic problems. And even Canadas own health ministry has asked for listing, because listing is consistent with controlled use.
 We recommend developing countries and economies in transition to require detailed information from their exporters about asbestos health effects as well as how exporters deal with asbestos including asbestos waste domestically. We are sure Canada has a lot of information and will be willing to share it with importing countries.
What will happen, due to the constant opposition to list chrysotile, is that countries will take national measures to protect their borders, if international mechanisms fail.
ROCA and civil society organisations around the world support the African and the Arabic Region in its efforts to effectively control their borders, and to consider other ways to do so, for instance by banning asbestos, if a consensus cannot be reached.

PAN congratulates COP 5 on listing endosulfan, aldicarb and alachlor and hopes on continuation with asbestos

PAN Intervention at COP 5 by Meriel Watts:

"Thank you Madam President.
Very briefly, Pesticide Action Network would like to congratulate the Conference of the Parties on finally listing endosulfan. It has been a long road, as it has travelled through both this Convention and the Stockholm Convention, but at last we have resolution. We also congratulate you on the listing of aldicarb and alachlor.
We hope the positive move with a chemical that became stuck at a pervious COP will - together with India’s willingness to move forward with chrysotile - lay the foundation for a new spirit of willingness by other parties at the next COP to finally list chrysotile asbestos, which clearly meets the scientific and legal requirements of the convention."

Epidemiologists call COP 5 to list asbestos

ROCA intervention by Alexandra Caterbow:

Distinguished delegates, while we are locked here, the world outside is carefully watching what we are doing here. I will provide you with a message from the scientific world outside, that was just passed to all of us, and especially to the one that makes the decisions here.
 It is a tragic irony that one of the largest global conferences of epidemiologists - researchers studying the causes and prevention of disease - is taking place this very same week in Montreal, Canada. The meeting, organized by the leading professional associations in Canada and the United States, including the American College of Epidemiology, the Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Society for Epidemiologic Research, and the Epidemiology section of the American Public Health Association, has attracted some 1.535 delegates.
 This morning, a large gathering of epidemiologists added their voice to the outrage against the obstruction of the listing of Asbestos under the Rotterdam convention.
 1.531 participants, to be exact, who are all highly recognized scientists from various countries including Canada, want the COP to know that, and I want to quote their message for all of you:
 Asbestos is a recognized cause of asbestosis, lung cancer, and of mesothelioma in particular. Highlighting these hazards and avoiding exposure is essential to end this cancer epidemic.
 We will distribute their message shortly to the delegates.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

ROCA Statement on candidate chemicals: Don´t let economical and political reasons undermine the scientific basis of the convention.

We want to echo the statement of the African group. And also thank India for the change of their position, which is very encouraging, and we want to thank all other countries that were willing to discuss the listing. But we want to  express our disappointment about the late announcement of Canada and that they would not support the listing, for reasons that have nothing to do with the convention. We want to point out that when a country acknoledges a chemical meets the scientific criteria and still opposes its listing, then it undermines the integrity of the convention. We strongly oppose the position of those countries which refer to the lack of scientific data as the reason to oppose listing of asbestos. Many countries and well known international organizations do have enough of comprehensive information and scientifically proved data on asbestos health effects. If countries do not have national data confirming this it does not give them the right to undermine the CRC recommendations and data provided by other countries and organizations.We urge all Parties to come to a consensus decions. Don´t let economical and political reasons undermine the scientific basis of the convention.

Africa Group Statement on candidate chemicals asks for reasons of Canadas position

The Africa Group wishes to thank the Co-Chairs of the Candidate chemicals contact group for their skillful leadership and their efforts to resolve the issue of listing of Chrysotile asbestos in Annex III. We also thank India for their spirit of compromise and for their efforts to provide additional information to the countries who were still unable to agree to the listing of Chrysotile asbestos in an effort to move forward. The Africa Group also thanks Switzerland for their compromise text in efforts to ensure that consensus is reached. The Africa Group believes that this text accommodated the concerns of the apposing countries while achieving the objectives of the convention which are to protect the vulnerable populations. We also thank the EU for their document, but note that the African regions is not supportive of parallel voluntary mechanisms as these may render the Convention ineffective, and hamper our efforts to move towards listing.

Recalling what transpired at the contract on candidate chemicals, the Africa group must register its extreme disappointment in the manner in which Canada has acted with respect to the listing of this chemical. Their eleventh hour revelation that they were not able to concede to the listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in Annex III took the contact group meeting by surprise. Only after there appeared to be significant movement of the other opposing countries to consider the Swiss proposal, did they express themselves on the matter. The actions of Canada have in the view of the Africa Group set back the progress made by the contact group, as they did not make themselves available to have further discussion in the smaller group, and did not express to the group a willingness to debate the issue of the listing. The other countries opposed to the listing which joined the smaller discussion group, identified the issues which caused them difficulties in agreeing to the listing and the contact group were able to consider these concerns and propose options to address them through the Switzerland compromise decision. Canada by their actions have not allowed the group to understand the issues which do not allow them to reach consensus on the listing decision. The Africa Group hereby calls on Canada to put forward to the Conference the reasons for their opposition to the listing, that the parities can assist them in an attempt to negotiate and find solutions which allow COP 5 to be able to list and meet the objectives of the Convention.

It is at significant cost both in terms of resources and physical costs that the Africa Region sends representatives to these meeting, the African Region is encouraged by the listing of the other candidate chemicals but would be extremely disappointed if opposing countries cannot find it in themselves to negotiate to a successful outcome which is a listing of all four candidate chemicals.

Canada, A Pariah State

The transparent behaviour of the Canadian delegation regarding the listing of chrysotile asbestos on Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention has caused a groundswell of condemnation. Having kept quiet during the initial plenary session debate on June 21, the Canadian position was revealed yesterday when a consensus supporting the listing of chrysotile began to emerge. When it became clear that negotiations might finally resolve the chrysotile impasse , Canadian delegate David Sproulu threw down the gauntlet with his statement: “Canada is not in a position to support the listing of chrysotile in Annex 3. Canada is unable to join the consensus."

Canada’s betrayal of the Rotterdam Convention has earned it huge negative press coverage at home and abroad which culminated with it being named a Cancer Culprit for its destructive and hypocritical position. For the sake of a few hundred jobs at the one remaining Canadian asbestos mine, Canada has willfully and in full knowledge of the repercussions sided with the global asbestos mafia to prioritize commercial profit over public health.

A leading trade unionist from the Philippines is calling for Canada to be “delisted” from the Rotterdam Convention. Incensed by the developments this week in Geneva, Gerard Seno from the ALU-TUCP has reason to berate Canada: 93% of the asbestos imported to the Philippines is from Canada.

ROCA delegate at COP5 Madhu Dutta says:“There is no doubt amongst the observers in Switzerland, that Canada had planned to let other countries do its dirty work in perpetuating the chrysotile veto. When the opposition of the dissent vote looked close to collapse, Canada emerged from the shadows. The disrespect shown by Canada for other delegations and their countries and human health and for the survival of the Rotterdam Convention is breathtaking.”

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Convention in Danger - Canada is playing dirty!

Canada told the world Wednesday it opposes placing limits on the export of chrysotile asbestos — likely setting the stage for international efforts to list the mineral as a hazardous material to fail.
The head of the Canadian delegation at an international meeting to decide whether to label chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous material under the United Nations' Rotterdam Convention made the statement after a consensus was starting to emerge to list the mineral, which is mined in Quebec, on Annex III of the convention, Postmedia News has learned.
If chrysotile asbestos is listed on Annex III of the convention, "Prior Informed Consent" is required before countries such as Canada can export the mineral, meaning importing countries are informed of the hazards and can refuse to accept it if they believe they cannot handle it safely.
Until this declaration, the Canadians had remained silent, and Natural Resources Ministers Joe Oliver had hinted Tuesday the Canadian delegation would remain quiet at the meeting because four other countries had already spoken up against the listing. But on Wednesday, Ukraine switched positions and indicated it could accept the hazardous listing.
Canada's intervention followed immediately after Ukraine's announcement. It also came just after India, a major importer of Quebec asbestos, announced it, too, would support the listing. As with Canada at past meetings, India either opposed the listing or remained silent.
Unless consensus among countries can be achieved, chrysotile asbestos will remain off Annex III, contrary to the recommendation of the UN convention's scientific expert committee.

The first Champion of the Conference is India!

India was awarded the first Champion of the fifth conference of the parties COP 5 of the Rotterdam Convention! It is now supporting the listing of chrysotile asbestos in Annex III, called the PIC list. This decision has evoked a strong dynamic in the discussion. Thank you India!!!
More on cancerculprits.org

What is Brazil's position on Asbestos?

This week, Brazil, the third largest producer and exporter of asbestos in the world, participates again in the Conference of the Parties of the Rotterdam Convention with a big delegation (8 or 9 members) without anything NEW to say so far.

Russia is the largest producer and exporter in the world, but it has not the right to give its opinion in the meeting, as it has not ratified the convention. Brazil is in second place among the countries present and parties of the conference, only after China as producer and Kazakhstan as exporter. Due to this fact, Brazil has a higher status in this conference and its position should therefore influence the decision of the other 142 countries.

However, the Brazilian taxpayers’ money is financing the bureaucrats delegation tour, led by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, just to say that there is no consensus in the country on wether or not to list asbestos in the PIC list.

This old story is being repeated in 3 consecutive meetings (each one is held at each 2 years), and only 2 Brazilian ministries are against such inclusion: Mines and Energy, and Development, Industry and Trade.

The first question here is: if it is to repeat this mantra for the third time, why the delegation consists of 8-9 members, when only one officer could do the task?

According to UN rules, civil society has to have a say in preparation. It is interesting to note that the civil society organizations in Brazil were not invited or heard by the Ministry of Foreign Relations in the previous meeting held by the Brazilian Government in May 2011.

With all these characteristics, is or is not Brazil a strong candidate to the Cancer Culprit award?

To know more about the award, see http://cancerculprits.org/

published on behalf of


Rotterdam Convention in Danger! Handful of countries block listing of Chrysotile Asbestos

It is irresponsible and indefensible that a handful of countries under the control of the asbestos industry are blocking the right to prior informed consent, a basic right that is essential for the protection of public health. In so doing, they are undermining the viability of the whole Convention. This handful of countries is putting the interests of the asbestos industry ahead of global public health. The Convention cannot function, if a few countries hold the world hostage by rejecting the advice of the Convention’s scientific committee, which has repeatedly recommended, that chrysotile asbestos be listed under Annex III. The listing of chrysotile asbestos meets all the scientific criteria of the Convention. It is a demonstration of outrageous bad faith that these countries – Ukraine, Kygrysztan & Kazakhztan, India – have ratified the Convention and yet act in a way that undermines the ethos and functionality of the Convention. The Convention is intended to secure a fundamental right for all the countries of the world and this tiny group of countries appear determined to deny that right.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Do you want to know, what is happening at COP 5?

Do you want to be updated on what is happening at the COP 5, talking place from June 20th to 25th in Geneva. Check out our new website The Cancer Culprit Awards!
Every day countries are voted the Cancer Culprit or are awarded with the Conference Champion. If you want to know who is supporting the listing of Asbestos in Annex III to enable countries to make informed decisions have a look at the website.

Friday, 17 June 2011

New ROCA Position Paper online available!

We would like to present you the position paper by our international alliance in preparation to the COP 5, talking place next week in Geneva. You can find it here under Publications.

Side Event at COP 5 Asbestos - Dangers in the Dust!

The Rotterdam Convention Alliance is proud to invite you to the Side Event "Asbestos - Dangers in the Dust!". The BBC documentary Dangers in the Dust is followed by three presentations by civil society representatives from Brail, India and Kyrgyztan. In conclusion a dialogue will address how policy action will show the way. We would like to invite you to this event.