Environmental Conventions on Chemical and Hazardous Waste Management

International Environmental Conventionsalso known as multilateral agreements are an integral part of the international environmental governance system. Each convention covers specific issues such as climate change, biodiversity, desertification, land degradation and chemicals handling among others. The management of hazardous substances world over is regulated by various conventions such as the Basel, Bamako, Minamata,Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions.


Basel Convention

It controls the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal.It was adopted on 22 March 1989 in Basel, Switzerland, in response to a public outcry following the discovery, in the 1980s, in Africa and other parts of the developing world of deposits of toxic wastes imported from abroad. The objective of the convention is to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes. The convention aims to: reducehazardous waste generation and promote environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes, wherever the place of disposal; restrict transboundary movements of hazardous wastes except where it is perceived to be in accordance with the principles of environmentally sound management; and to formulate a regulatory system applying to cases where transboundary movements are permissible.

Bamako Convention

This is a Convention of African nations which bans the importation into Africa and the control of transboundary movement and management of hazardous waste within Africa. It was negotiated by the then Organisation of African Union (OAU) in Bamako, Mali, in January, 1991 but came into force in 1998. The objective was to prohibit the importation of hazardous and radioactive waste. Parties agreed to enact legislation and enforce a ban on hazardous waste import, and on the dumping of hazardous wastes at sea and internal waters and in respect of waste generation, to adopt precautionary measures.


This convention was adopted on 10 September 1998 in Rotterdam, Netherlandsand entered into force on 24 February 2004. It is on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. It encourages shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals. The convention promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans.

The Stockholm Convention

The agreement is meant to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) known for their persistence in the environment, bioaccumulation in people and nature and the harm they cause often far from the source. This treaty was signed in 2001, became effective in 2004 and Zimbabwe ratified it in 2011. It calls on parties to eliminate the production of POPs, minimise unintentional sources, clean up and safely manage remaining stockpiles and waste. Some of the POPs listed in the Convention are agricultural chemicals such as aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, endrin as well as industrial chemicals such as hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated biphenyls and pesticides such as DDT and dioxins.

Minamata Convention on Mercury

The Convention is meant toprotect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury and its compounds.It was agreed in Geneva, Switzerland, 19 January 2013 and adopted later that year on 10 October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan. The Convention was a result of international action aimed at managing mercury in an efficient, effective and coherent manner, whilst member states work towards its total elimination.  Zimbabwe has signed the convention and steps are being taken to ratify it.

Local Legislation That Reinforces the Above Conventions

Zimbabwe, as a signatory has formulated regulations to meet the requirement of these conventions. Section 72-78  of the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:27) of 2002 as well as Statutory Instruments; 10 of 2007 on Hazardous Waste Management, 12 of 2007 on Hazardous Substances, Pesticides and Other Toxic Substances and 79 0f 2009 on Importation and Transit of Hazardous Substances and Waste provides for the sustainable management of hazardous substances.  

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