UN News service
Governments to take decisive action to implement UN-backed treaty
against organic pollutants
6 May 2005 – A meeting to
review a United Nations-backed treaty banning a "dirty dozen"
industrial chemicals wrapped up its work today in Uruguay, with
participants pledging to move forward energetically to reduce and
eliminate the 12 highly hazardous substances.
The conference this week in Punta del Este focused on the
UN-sponsored Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
(POPs), which entered
into force last year. The treaty targets some of the most
dangerous of all man-made products or wastes, which cause deaths,
diseases and birth defects among humans and animals.
A key outcome of the conference was the establishment of a POPs
Review Committee that will be responsible for evaluating
additional chemicals that could be added to the treaty's initial
list of 12. The panel will hold its first meeting later this year
in Geneva and its recommendations will be forwarded to future
annual meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the
The Committee starts its work with four candidates proposed
before or during this week's Conference. Norway nominated the
flame retardant pentabromodiphenyl ether.
has nominated a group of chemicals known as hexachlorocyclohexanes,
which include the pesticide lindane, and the European Union
has proposed listing the pesticide chlordecone and the flame
The meeting further agreed on how to evaluate the Convention's
progress in reducing the levels of POPs in the environment. It
established a system for requesting and registering temporary
exemptions to the phase-out of certain chemicals.
"This week's conference has provided an inspiring example of
how countries can work together through the United Nations to find
global solutions to global problems," said Executive Director
Klaus Toepfer of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP),
under whose auspices the Convention was adopted in 2001.
One of the chemicals already targeted by the Convention is DDT.
The meeting recognized, however, that some 25 countries will need
to continue spraying controlled amounts of DDT on the inside walls
of houses to combat malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The progress
being made on developing safe, affordable and locally effective
alternatives to DDT will be reviewed again in three years.
Delegates agreed on the rules and documentation for collecting the
information needed for conducting such reviews.
The 12 initial POPs covered by the Stockholm Convention include
nine pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin,
heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex and toxaphene); two
industrial chemicals (PCBs as well as hexachlorobenzene, also used
as a pesticide); and unintentional by-products, most importantly
dioxins and furans.