Mercury Treaty Signed in Minamata
Delegates from 140 nations and territories meeting in Minamata, Japan last Thursday adopted an international binding treaty to curb mercury pollution, marking the next step toward eventually bringing the pact into force.
The UN Minamata Convention on Mercury, named after the city whose residents suffered a devastating mercury poisoning outbreak in the mid-20th century, is the first new multilateral environmental agreement to be signed in over a decade; the text of the deal was finalised in January, after four years of negotiations. (See Bridges Weekly, 23 January 2013)
The convention is designed to curb the global output of mercury, due to the serious health and environmental effects that result from exposure to the chemical. It seeks to curb mercury by targeting several products for phase-out by 2020. The pact also addresses some trade-related issues, specifically regarding the procedures related to consent and certification of safe handling capabilities being required for imports/exports.
The treaty will go into effect after at least 50 countries and territories have ratified it, which is anticipated to take an additional three to four years.
ICTSD reporting; "Minamata Convention Adopted," THE JAPAN NEWS, 10 October 2013 "Germany, China Among Signatories to UN Treaty to Cut Mercury," BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10 October 2013.