Minamata Convention on Mercury

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Minamata Convention
Minamata Convention on Mercury
Type United Nations treaty
Signed 10 October 2013 (2013-10-10)
Location Kumamoto, Japan
Condition Ninety days after the ratification by at least 50 states
Signatories 128[1]
Parties 10[1]
Depositary Secretary-General of the United Nations
Languages Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. This Convention was a result of three years of meeting and negotiating, after which the text of the Convention was ratified by delegates from 140 countries on January 19, 2013. The Convention is named after the Japanese city, Minimata. This naming is of symbolic importance as the city went through devastating incident of mercury poisoning. It is expected that over the next few decades, this international agreement will enhance the reduction of mercury pollution from the targeted activities responsible for the major release of mercury to the immediate environment.[2]

History[edit]

Mercury and mercury compounds have long been known to be toxic to humans and other organisms. Large-scale public health crises due to mercury poisoning, such as Minamata disease and Niigata Minamata disease, drew attention to the issue. In 1972, delegates to the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment witnessed Japanese junior high school student Shinobu Sakamoto, disabled as the result of methylmercury poisoning in utero. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established shortly thereafter.[3] The idea to create an international agreement about mercury emission dates back to 2003. The reason the idea was not initially put into an action was that the USA called for voluntary actions to decrease the emission, undermining the need for the treaty.[4] However, on 20 February 2009, the 25th Governing Council of UNEP adopted a decision "to initiate international action to manage mercury in an efficient, effective and coherent manner."[5]

Finally, it the UNEP Governing council meeting, USA agreed to work together with other nations to create a binding agreement on mercury emission. The negotiation process was promptly established by the governing council, in which countries aspiring to sign the treaty, created the text of the convention. Outside members also gave some input in terms of lobbying and giving professional advice.[4] An Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) was established, chaired by Fernando Lugris of Uruguay and supported by the Chemicals Branch of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics. The INC held five sessions to discuss and negotiate a global agreement on mercury:

Forty participating countries were tested for mercury by the representatives from IPEN and different nonpartisan organizations from Sweden. Each country was positive on mercury, and, "more than a third exceeded the U.S. National Research Council reference dose of 1 ppm." This created a bigger wish among the countries to decrease the impact of mercury.[4] On 19 January 2013, after negotiating late into the night, the negotiations concluded with 147 governments agreeing to the draft convention text.[16]

The Convention was adopted and opened for signature on 10 October 2013, at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries (Diplomatic Conference) in Kumamoto, Japan, preceded by a Preparatory Meeting from 7–8 October 2013.[17][18][19] The European Union and 86 countries signed the Convention on the first day it was open.[20] A further 5 countries signed the Convention on the final day of the Diplomatic Conference, 11 October 2013.

The Convention will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by 50 nations. During the interim period, further meetings of the INC will be held to address such details as the organization of a permanent secretariat. Fernando Lugris, the Uruguayan chair delegate, proclaimed "Today in the early hours of 19 January 2013 we have closed a chapter on a journey that has taken four years of often intense but ultimately successful negotiations and opened a new chapter towards a sustainable future. This has been done in the name of vulnerable populations everywhere and represents an opportunity for a healthier and more sustainable century for all peoples."[21]

List of signatories and ratifiers[edit]

Participant Signature Ratification
 Albania 9 October 2014
 Angola 11 October 2013
 Argentina 10 October 2013
 Armenia 10 October 2013
 Australia 10 October 2013
 Austria 10 October 2013
 Bangladesh 10 October 2013
 Belarus 23 September 2014
 Belgium 10 October 2013
 Benin 10 October 2013
 Bolivia 10 October 2013
 Brazil 10 October 2013
 Bulgaria 10 October 2013
 Burkina Faso 10 October 2013
 Burundi 14 February 2014
 Cambodia 10 October 2013
 Cameroon 24 September 2014
 Canada 10 October 2013
 Central African Republic 10 October 2013
 Chad 25 September 2014
 Chile 10 October 2013
 China 10 October 2013
 Colombia 10 October 2013
 Comoros 10 October 2013
 Republic of the Congo 9 October 2014
 Costa Rica 10 October 2013
 Côte d'Ivoire 10 October 2013
 Croatia 24 September 2014
 Cyprus 24 September 2014
 Czech Republic 10 October 2013
 Denmark 10 October 2013
 Djibouti 10 October 2013 23 September 2014
 Dominican Republic 10 October 2013
 Ecuador 10 October 2013
 Ethiopia 10 October 2013
 European Union 10 October 2013
 Finland 10 October 2013
 France 10 October 2013
 Gabon 30 June 2014 24 September 2014
 Gambia 10 October 2013
 Georgia 10 October 2013
 Germany 10 October 2013
 Ghana 24 September 2014
 Greece 10 October 2013
 Guatemala 10 October 2013
 Guinea 25 November 2013 21 October 2014
 Guinea-Bissau 24 September 2014
 Guyana 10 October 2013 24 September 2014
 Honduras 24 September 2014
 Hungary 10 October 2013
 India 30 September 2014
 Indonesia 10 October 2013
 Iran 10 October 2013
 Iraq 10 October 2013
 Ireland 10 October 2013
 Israel 10 October 2013
 Italy 10 October 2013
 Jamaica 10 October 2013
 Japan 10 October 2013
 Jordan 10 October 2013
 Kenya 10 October 2013
 Kuwait 10 October 2013
 Latvia 24 September 2014
 Lesotho 12 November 2014
 Liberia 24 September 2014
 Libya 10 October 2013
 Lithuania 10 October 2013
 Luxembourg 10 October 2013
 Republic of Macedonia 25 July 2014
 Madagascar 10 October 2013
 Malawi 10 October 2013
 Malaysia 24 September 2014
 Mali 10 October 2013
 Malta 9 October 2014
 Mauritania 11 October 2013
 Mauritius 10 October 2013
 Mexico 10 October 2013
 Moldova 10 October 2013
 Monaco 24 September 2014 24 September 2014
 Mongolia 10 October 2013
 Montenegro 24 September 2014
 Morocco 6 June 2014
 Mozambique 10 October 2013
   Nepal 10 October 2013
 Netherlands 10 October 2013
 New Zealand 10 October 2013
 Nicaragua 10 October 2013 29 October 2014
 Niger 10 October 2013
 Nigeria 10 October 2013
 Norway 10 October 2013
 Pakistan 10 October 2013
 Palau 9 October 2014
 Panama 10 October 2013
 Paraguay 10 February 2014
 Peru 10 October 2013
 Philippines 10 October 2013
 Poland 24 September 2014
 Romania 10 October 2013
 Russia 24 September 2014
 Samoa 10 October 2013
 Senegal 11 October 2013
 Serbia 9 October 2014
 Seychelles 27 May 2014 13 January 2015
 Sierra Leone 12 August 2014
 Singapore 10 October 2013
 Slovakia 10 October 2013
 Slovenia 10 October 2013
 South Africa 10 October 2013
 South Korea 24 September 2014
 Spain 10 October 2013
 Sri Lanka 9 October 2014
 Sudan 24 September 2014
 Sweden 10 October 2013
  Switzerland 10 October 2013
 Syria 24 September 2014
 Tanzania 10 October 2013
 Togo 10 October 2013
 Tunisia 10 October 2013
 Turkey 24 September 2014
 Uganda 10 October 2013
 United Arab Emirates 10 October 2013
 United Kingdom 10 October 2013
 United States 6 November 2013 6 November 2013
 Uruguay 10 October 2013 24 September 2014
 Venezuela 10 October 2013
 Vietnam 11 October 2013
 Yemen 21 March 2014
 Zambia 10 October 2013
 Zimbabwe 11 October 2013

Results of the Convention[edit]

The convention has prohibited a myriad of products containing mercury, and their production and trade will be altogether prohibited by 2020. These products include batteries, compact fluorescent lamps, switches and relays, soaps and cosmetics, thermometers, and blood pressure devices. Furthermore, delegates went as far as prohibiting vaccines containing mercury, as well as dental fillings which use mercury amalgam. The biggest mercury release comes from coal-fired power stations and usage of mercury to separate gold from ore-bearing rock. Mercury from the factories is released into a river system. The Convention requires countries to come up with plans to reduce the amount of mercury used by gold miners. The treaty will also organize and support financially mercury awareness campaigns by which it will give support for mercury-free alternatives.[21]

Text and provisions[edit]

The constitution of the Convention states that the Parties to the Convention have recognized that mercury is, “a chemical of global concern owing to its long-range atmospheric transport, its persistence in the environment once anthropogenically introduced, its ability to bioaccumulate in ecosystems and its significant negative effects on human health and the environment.”[22] The document was based on the decision of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Program to create international agreement to deal with mercury in the proper manner. United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development entitled international community with the role to negotiate a legally binding treaty on mercury to address the problem. The Convention aroused because of awareness of the participating countries about the influence of mercury on human health, especially in developing countries. It was following the safety standard acknowledging the impact of biomagnification of mercury on traditional foods. The text of the Convention further recalled the lesson on Minamata disease in Japan about the serious safety and environmental effects from mercury pollution. The developed countries have promised to help financially, technically, and technologically to developing countries in the management of mercury, in order to promote the proper implementation of the Convention. The Convention gave praise to the activities of the World Health Organization in the fight against impact of mercury on human health. The Convention accepts other international agreements on mercury, and sees them as mutually supportive.[22]

Article 1[edit]

  • States the objectives of the Constitution
  • Works to protect the human health and the environment from releases of mercury and mercury compounds

Article 2[edit]

  • Concerned with the definitions of the banned mercury compounds
  • Small-scale gold mining refers to gold mining conducted by individual miners or small enterprises
  • “Best available techniques” refers to most efficient, effective, and preventive technologies to reduce emissions and release of mercury
  • “Best environmental practices” means using the most appropriate environmental control measures and strategies;
  • “Mercury” specifically refers to elemental mercury (Hg(0)
  • “Mercury compound” refers to any substance consisting of atoms of mercury
  • “Mercury-added product” refers to a product that contains mercury

Article 3[edit]

  • Addresses the question of mercury supply sources and trade
  • The provisions of this Article do not apply to mercury compounds used for laboratory research, naturally occurring trace quantities of mercury or mercury compounds present, mercury-added products.
  • It prohibits parties to allow mercury mining that was not being conducted prior to country’s entrance in the treaty, and it only allows mercury mining that was conducted prior to the treaty up to fifteen years after that date
  • It encourages countries to identify individual stocks of mercury or mercury compounds exceeding 50 metric tons, and that if found such mercury is disposed of in accordance with the guidelines for environmentally sound management
  • States are not allowed to export the mercury except for the Environmentally sound storage or if it’s necessary to ensure protection of human health; same goes for imports

Article 4[edit]

  • Addresses the question of Mercury-added products
  • Each state needs to take appropriate measures to ban the manufacture, import or export of mercury-added products

Article 5[edit]

  • Concerned with manufacturing processes in which mercury or mercury compounds
  • Prohibits the use of mercury or mercury compounds in the manufacturing processes
  • Each state has to maintain relevant information on processes that use mercury or mercury compounds
  • The use of mercury or mercury compounds is forbidden in a facility that did not exist before the Convention

Article 6[edit]

  • Concerned about exemptions available to a Party upon request
  • Each party to the treaty may register for one or more exemptions from the phase-out dates that will expire five years after the request
  • Each party needs to provide extensive and sufficient report justifying the need to extend the phase out date

Article 7[edit]

  • Talks about question of artisanal and small-scale gold mining
  • Each Party that has small-scale gold mining within its territory needs to reduce the use of mercury and mercury compounds in mining and processing.

Article 8[edit]

  • Concerned with Emissions of Mercury
  • It addresses controlling and reducing emissions of mercury and mercury compounds
  • Each state needs to take measures to control the pollution and set out a national plan to reach the expected target and goals of the mercury emission, using the best available technology
  • Emission should be reduced no later than five years after the date of entry into the Convention

Article 9[edit]

  • Addresses the releases of mercury
  • Controlling and reducing releases of mercury and mercury compounds
  • Each state should within three years after of date of entry into force of the Convention identify the relevant releases of mercury into land, water, and air
  • If the source exceeds maximum allowable emission, state needs to take measures to control releases and prepare a national plan setting out the plan to reach expected targets, goals and outcomes.
  • National plans to control the release needs to be submitted to the Conference of the Parties not later than 4 years after the entry of the state to the convention

Article 10[edit]

  • This article is concerned with the environmentally sound storage of mercury
  • Any disposal of mercury waste should be done environmentally sound manner, taking into account any guidelines, and in accordance with any requirements of the Convention

Article 11[edit]

  • Concerned about relevant definition of mercury wastes, as well as the treatment of waste
  • All mercury waste should be disposed by the provisions of national law or the Convention, excluding overburden, waste rock and tailings from mining

Article 12[edit]

  • Deals with treatment of contaminated sites
  • Each state needs to develop appropriate strategies for identifying and assessing sites contaminated by mercury or mercury compounds in an environmentally sound manner
  • Treatment of contaminated site needs to incorporate an assessment of the risks to human health

Article 13[edit]

  • Stresses the question of financial resources and mechanism for reducing mercury pollution
  • Resources for reduction should come from domestic funding through relevant policies and national budgets, as well bilateral and multilateral funding
  • Private sector should be involved through imposition of taxes

Article 14[edit]

  • Addresses the capacity-building, technical assistance and technology transfer of mercury compounds
  • State need to work together to provide timely and appropriate capacity-building and technical assistance to developing country Parties, through regional and national arrangements

Article 15[edit]

  • Established Implementation and Compliance Committee to promote implementation and compliance all provisions of this Convention.
  • The Committee needs to be established consisting of 15 members which will decide on its rules of procedure and guidance

Article 16[edit]

  • Concerned about health aspects
  • It encourages states to promote strategies to identify all the population affected by mercury pollution
  • It encourages states to adopt health guidelines regulating the exposure of mercury, and provide education about dangers of mercury
  • Countries should provide appropriate health-care for treatment and care for people who are already exposed to mercury compounds

Article 17[edit]

  • Concerned with information exchange to facilitate the reduction in mercury pollution
  • Each party needs to exchange information concerning mercury and mercury compounds on Activities and processes that emit or release mercury or mercury compounds in order to come up with most efficient and effective

Article 18[edit]

  • Stresses the importance of public information in order to raise awareness and educate people

Article 19[edit]

  • States need to cooperate in order to develop and improve mercury pollution reduction

Article 21[edit]

  • States that each party is a subject to the Conference of the parties, and needs to report through the secretariat on measures taken so far, and the effectiveness of those measures

Article 22[edit]

  • Effectiveness evaluation: The Conference of the Parties needs to evaluate the effectiveness of this Convention, weighing cost and benefits, and analyzing results

Article 23[edit]

  • Establishes the Conference of the Parties

Article 24[edit]

  • Established Secretariat

Article 25[edit]

  • States that are in dispute need to seek for the settlement within the Convention

Article 26[edit]

  • Sets the rules for the amendments to the Convention
  • Amendments to the Convention may be proposed by any Party, and they can be adopted at a meeting of the Conference of the Parties
  • Ratification of an amendment will be notified to the Depositary in writing.

Article 27[edit]

  • Sets the rules for adoption and amendment of annexes

Article 28[edit]

  • Establishes the rules for the right to vote: one party, one vote

Article 29[edit]

  • Opens the Convention for signature at Kumamoto, Japan

Article 30[edit]

  • Every state is a subject to ratification, acceptance, and approval of this Convention

Article 31[edit]

  • Declares Convention’s entry into the force

Article 32[edit]

  • Excludes the right of reservations to this Convention.

Article 33[edit]

  • Gives right to states to withdraw from a treaty with a one year notification of withdrawal

Article 34[edit]

  • Names The Secretary-General of the United Nations as the Depositary of this Convention.

Article 35[edit]

  • The original of this Convention is translated into Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, and all of them hold the equal weight.[22]

Workshops[edit]

On the Conference of Plenipotentiary in Kumamoto in October 2013 it was agreed to organize workshops all around the world in support for ratification and implementation of the Minamata Conference on Mercury. In order to operate within these workshops successfully the secretariat is working with other relevant bodies, “including the secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in order to make full use of relevant experience and expertise.”[23] The workshops have been set up in order to improve the understanding and implementation of convention, as well as raise awareness about the process for implementation, signature and ratification. One of their goals is to inform people about “available sources of support and creating opportunities for exchange and action in the sub-regions.”[24] At the conclusion of each workshop the participants define national roadmaps and set out steps that should be taken at national level to achieve successful ratification and implementation.

The workshops deliver an opportunity for coordination of work in the interim period, as well as enabling activities with the support of the Global Environment Facility, with contributions to the workshop from the secretariat of different organizations. “The Interim Secretariat will be organizing regional workshops to support ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention in 2015, back-to-back with the regional meetings for the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions in preparation for their Conferences of the Parties to be held in 2015.” [25]

Mercury Club[edit]

Within the conference a “Mercury Club” was established to support the negotiating process for the legally binding instrument on mercury. Three different types of awards, gold, silver and bronze, were presented and established “according to the level of contributions received in the time period between the 25th session of the UNEP Governing Council, where the decision to convene negotiations was taken, and the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee.”[26] The recipient of award included governmental bodies, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals. Contributions could be made in different form such as in in cash or acts like hosting of a meeting directly related to the negotiations process.

Money contributions were awarded as followed:

  • GOLD - contributions of USD 1,000,000 and more
  • SILVER - contributions of USD 500,000 and more
  • BRONZE - contributions of under USD 500,000[27]

GOLD certificates awarded to:[28]

  • The European Union
  • The Government of Japan
  • The Government of Norway
  • The Government of Sweden
  • The Government of Switzerland
  • The Government of the United States of America
  • The Government of Uruguay
  • The Nordic Council of Ministers[29]

SILVER certificates awarded to:[30]

  • The Government of Canada
  • The Government of China
  • The Government of France
  • The Government of Germany
  • The Government of Sweden[31]

BRONZE certificates awarded to: [32]

  • The African Union Commission
  • The Government of Austria
  • The Government of Belgium
  • The Government of Brazil
  • The Government of Burkina Faso
  • The Government of Canada
  • The Government of Chile
  • The Government of China
  • The Government of Colombia
  • The Corporacion Andina de Fomento
  • The Government of the Czech Republic
  • The Government of Denmark
  • The Government of Egypt
  • The Government of Finland
  • The Government of France
  • The Government of Gabon
  • The Government of Germany
  • The Global Environment Facility
  • The Government of India
  • The Government of Jamaica
  • The Government of Jordan
  • The Government of Kenya
  • The Government of the Netherlands
  • The Government of Poland
  • The Government of Senegal
  • The Government of Spain
  • The Government of Thailand
  • The Government of Tunisia
  • The Government of the United Kingdom[33]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Bailey, Marianne. "Minamata Convention on Mercury". United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved October 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ Tanaka, Hisatoshi (9 October 2013). "Minamata disease sufferer pins hope on mercury ban treaty". The Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo, Japan: The Asahi Shimbun Company). Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Kessler, Rebecca (October 2013). "The Minamata Convention on Mercury: A First Step toward Protecting Future Generations". Environmental Health Perspective 121 (10). doi:10.1289/ehp.121-A304. Retrieved October 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Mandate". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "INC1". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Ashton, M.; Kantai, T., Templeton, J., Xia, K. (14 June 2010). "First Meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury". International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "INC2". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Ashton, M.; Kohler, P., Xia, K. (31 January 2011). "Summary of the Second Meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury". International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "INC3". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Kantai, T.; Templeton, J., Xia, K. (7 November 2011). "Summary of the Third Meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury". International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  12. ^ "INC4". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  13. ^ Aguilar, S., Barrios, P., Kantai, T., Kohler, P., Templeton, J. (6 July 2012). "Summary of the Fourth Meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury". International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "INC5". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Kohler, P., Morgera, E., Ripley, K., Schabus, N., Tsioumani, E. (21 January 2013). "Summary of the Fifth Meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury". International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Minamata Convention Agreed by Nations". United Nations Environment Programme. 19 January 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Diplomatic Conference for the Minamata Convention on Mercury". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  18. ^ Aquino, Grace (8 October 2013). "Kumamoto launches Minamata Convention to regulate use of mercury". Japan Daily Press. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  19. ^ Aritake, Toshio (7 October 2013). "Global Convention on Phaseout of Mercury Set to Be Adopted in Japan in October". Bloomberg/Bureau of National Affairs. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  20. ^ DeFerranti, R., Kohler, P., Malan, A.S. (10 October 2013). "Minamata Diplomatic Conference Highlights". International Institute for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Nuttal, Nick. "Minamata Convention Agreed by Nations". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved October 27, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b c "Minamata Convention on mercury". Mercury Convention. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Workshops". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Workshops". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Workshops". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Mercury Club". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Mercury Club". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Mercury Club". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Mercury Club". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Mercury Club". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Mercury Club". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Mercury Club". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Mercury Club". UNEP Minamata Convention on Mercury. Retrieved December 12, 2014.