The Rotterdam Convention – A vital tool to regulate Asbestos around the world
First signed in 1998, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is a vital international treaty regulating the import and export of hazardous substances. Effective since 2004, this has become a vital tool in the fight against asbestos and its import into countries around the globe. Although the convention does not directly ban asbestos, it mandates that countries share responsibilities and awareness when dealing with it. It uses a “Prior Informed Consent” procedure, which ensures that exporters of prohibited substances must notify the destination state of their shipment, and give the state the choice whether to allow all future shipments of that substance. This framework allows countries to individually decide if they wish to ban that substance and therefore block its import entirely, as the U.K. currently does with asbestos.
Unfortunately, not all types of asbestos are covered by the convention, as some states have vetoed the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the list. There is a growing expectation that it will eventually be added to the list of hazardous substances, which will be another vital step in ensuring international awareness of all forms of asbestos whenever it is imported and exported, and increase the likelihood of its restrictions.
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