Chemical contamination of the environment shows no respect for territorial borders. For this reason, chemical conventions or multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) provide effective international and regional frameworks to prevent and minimise the impacts of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste in the global commons.

Chemical conventions and agreements address: the international trade in toxic chemicals; the transport of hazardous waste; the reduction and eventual elimination of releases, use and production of persistent organic pollutants; the environmentally sound remediation of waste stockpiles; and, the identification of contaminated sites. Most importantly, they help us avoid problems in the future.

In recognising this international organisations such as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) also assist countries to develop international agreements on chemicals and waste.

Some agreements are in the form of legally binding Chemical Conventions such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) whereas, others are voluntary programs such as the Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management  (SAICM). 

International Conventions and Agreements

International chemical conventions and agreements help countries to work together to address the urgent threat of global chemical contamination of humans, wildlife and the environment. There are a number of international and regional chemical conventions including:

  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants 2001
  • Basel Convention on Control of the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal 1989
  • Waigani Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movements and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region 1995
  • Bamako Convention on the on ban of the import into Africa and the control of transboundary movement and management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa1990
  • Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade 1998
  • International Labour Organisation Convention 170, Convention Concerning Safety in the Use of Chemicals at Work, 1990 (ILO C 170)
  • Globally Harmonised System for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

For information on the chemical conventions see NTN’s Chemical Conventions Handbook.

Read More:

Life Cycle Management of Toxic Chemicals
Principles of Chemicals’ Policy Reform
Stockholm Convention on POPs
Basel Convention on Hazardous Waste
Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent
Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management (SAICM)
International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN)
International POPs Elimination Project (IPEP)