Efforts supported by unions and public interest groups to reform a UN right to know treaty on the export of the most hazardous substances have narrowly failed.
In total, 92 governments supported the proposal to amend the Rotterdam Treaty, with only 32 voting against – but this fell just seven votes shy of the 75 percent threshold for a rule change.
The failure of the proposal, led by the Australian and Swiss governments and co-sponsored by several nations including the UK, means the Rotterdam Convention remains paralyzed once again due to the tactics of the industry and a small group of countries that block the listing of highly hazardous substances, including chrysotile asbestos and paraquat.
The proposal would have introduced a new annex allowing the listing of chemicals where 75 percent of voting countries expressed support. The current system requires 'consensus,' which means a single nation can keep a deadly substance off the right to know list.
Liam O’Brien, ACTU Assistant Secretary said in response:
‘Countries have a right to know about the hazardous chemicals that are entering their country. The blocking tactics of Industry and a small number of countries, is endangering workers, in particular those from developing countries. If the Rotterdam Convention is going to meet its full potential it must be reformed. The lives of millions of workers are at stake.’
Source: ACTU news release