The Illegal Trade in Chemicals

of chrysotile asbestos. In addition, the International Labour Organization (2006) adopted a resolution committing the agency to actively promote a global asbestos ban.

In 2015, the fourth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management adopted Resolution IV/3 establishing HHPs as a SAICM Issue of Global Concern (UNEP 2015b). Delegates recognized, “that highly hazardous pesticides cause adverse human health and environmental effects in many countries, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries” and agreed to take concerted efforts to implement a strategy developed by FAO, UNEP and WHO. Delegates further indicated that this should be done, “with emphasis on promoting agroecologically based alternatives. ” The Rotterdam Convention recognizes a different and more limited category of pesticides, called Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulations (SHPFs), defined as chemicals that are formulated for pesticidal use and that are known to produce severe health or environmental effects observable within a short period of time after single or multiple exposures under conditions of use. Under the Convention, a Party from a developing nation or a country in transition that is experiencing human health or environmental problems caused by an SHPF may make a proposal to the Secretariat for its inclusion in Annex III, but no new substances have been added through this procedure in nearly twenty years. Apart from this mechanism, there are no international rules governing trade in SHPFs. The FAO andWHO criteria defining HHPs encompass a broader range of pesticides than those addressed by existing MEAs, and include, for example, not only pesticides that have been listed by theRotterdamandStockholmConventions and theMontreal Protocol, but also pesticides that meet the criteria of classes 1a or 1b of the WHO Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard, pesticides that meet the criteria of carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity Categories 1A and 1B of the Globally Harmonized System, and pesticides that have shown a high incidence of severe or irreversible adverse effects on human health or the environment. The FAO and WHO guidelines on HHPs (2016) note that, “Enforcement of pesticide legislation may need to be strengthened to prevent illegal production, importation, trade, and use.”

Highly Hazardous Pesticides

A highly hazardous pesticide (HHP) is a pesticide that could cause severe or irreversible harm to health or the environment under particular conditions. The FAO and WHO Code (2014) defines HHPs as “Pesticides that are acknowledged to present particularly high levels of acute or chronic hazards to health or environment according to internationally accepted classification systems such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) or their listing in relevant binding international agreements or conventions. In addition, pesticides that appear to cause severe or irreversible harm to health or the environment under conditions of use in a country may be considered to be and treatedas highlyhazardous.” Since no international instruments specifically govern trade in HHPs, the responsibility for trade in HHPs and for the question of whether such trade is illegal, falls to the national level.

The Illegal Trade in Chemicals


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