The Rotterdam Convention
The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade provides for certain rules for international trade in hazardous chemicals listed in Annex III to the Convention. The Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004. It currently has 157 Parties. The European Union and all Member States of the European Union are Parties to it. The Rotterdam Convention does not ban or restrict trade in chemicals or pesticide formulations, but serves to strengthen the protection of human health and the environment by ensuring informed decision-making on the import of chemicals listed in Annex III and by exchanging safety information between exporting and importing Parties.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Health and Safety Authority, along with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, are the Designated National Authorities in Ireland for Regulation (EU) No 649/2012 (as amended) - the "Rotterdam Regulation". The Authority does not engage directly in work under the Rotterdam Convention. Most of the direct work at Convention level is done through the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) (herein called the ‘Convention’) was established to allow countries to monitor and control the trade and use of certain hazardous chemicals. It puts in place a process where countries that are importing certain dangerous chemicals can refuse them or set out conditions that the imported chemicals must meet.
The basic principle of the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) is that the export of a banned or severely restricted chemical which is included in Annex III to the Convention can only take place with prior informed consent (PIC) of the importing party.
The aim of the Convention is to:
- Promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm;
- Contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.
The Convention creates legally binding obligations for the implementation of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure and entered into force on the 24th February 2004.
The Convention is implemented within the European Community by Regulation (EU) 649/2012 (as amended) concerning the export and import of dangerous chemicals.
Parties to the Convention
Countries that are ‘Party to the Convention’ are those which have consented to be bound to the Rotterdam Convention. ‘Other’ countries are countries which are not Parties to the Convention. Ireland is a Party to the Convention, having acceded to it on 10th June 2005.
Rotterdam Convention Conference of the Parties (COP)5
COP5 convened from 20-24 June 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland. COP5 adopted 13 decisions, including on the addition of aldicarb, alachlor and endosulfan to Annex III of the Convention (chemicals subject to the PIC Procedure). The meeting also adopted decisions on: the budget; technical assistance; synergies; information exchange; trade; and the work of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC). Delegates addressed issues that eluded consensus during the previous meeting of the COP, but could not agree on mechanisms and procedures for non-compliance and the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in Annex III of the Convention.
Rotterdam Convention Conference of the Parties (COP)6
COP6 was held 28 April - 10 May 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. RC COP6 considered several reports on activities within the Convention’s mandate and adopted 15 decisions on issues including, inter alia, listing azinphos-methyl, pentabromodiphenyl ether, octabromodiphenyl ether, and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and its related chemicals in Annex III of the Convention. The COP considered listing paraquat and chrysotile asbestos in Annex III but could not reach consensus. RC COP6 also adopted decisions on, inter alia, technical assistance, the programme of work and budget; official communications; and an MoU between UNEP, FAO and the COP.
Rotterdam Convention Conference of the Parties (COP)7
COP7 was held from 4-15 May 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland. COP-7 was unable to agree on the listing of paraquat, fenthion, trichlorfon and chrysotile asbestos in Annex III, and deferred consideration to COP8. COP7 also established an intersessional working group to: review cases in which the COP was unable to reach consensus on the listing of a chemical by identifying the reasons for and against listing and, based on that and other information, to develop options for improving the effectiveness of the process; and to develop proposals for enabling information flows to support the PIC procedure for those chemicals.
Rotterdam Convention Conference of the Parties (COP)8
COP8 was held in 2017. COP8 decided to add four hazardous chemicals, two pesticides (carbofuran and trichlorfon) and two industrial chemicals (short-chain chlorinated paraffins and tributyltin compounds, the latter being added under the industrial chemicals category in addition to the pesticides category) to Annex III to the Convention. The COP was unable to reach consensus on the listing of chrysotile asbestos, severely hazardous pesticide formulations containing paraquat, carbosulfan and of certain severely hazardous pesticide formulations containing fenthion.
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