The Stockholm Convention's entry into force a victory for the environment and our future

Press release - 18 February, 2004
Today the 50th country ratified the Stockholm Convention, bringing it into legal force. From now on it will be mandatory for governments to protect the environment and human health from toxic chemicals. (1)

"This is not just a victory for the environment but also clearly demonstrates that with political will, the international community can secure a safer future for the next generation by putting people's health over the short term interest of some polluting industries," said Greenpeace campaigner Zeina Al-Hajj.

The Stockholm Convention was adopted on 23 May 2001 in Stockholm, Sweden, after several years of negotiations, constantly undermined by the US and it's corporate interest. It's a global legally binding agreement outlawing the production, use and release of toxic substances. (2)

"The 50th ratification of the Stockholm Convention by France is an example of how even industrialised states are demanding that corporations take preventative action before environmental damage or health effects occur," said Al-Hajj. (3)

A key feature of the Convention calls for the elimination of all Persistent Organic Pollutants, POPs, and lists twelve of these substances for priority action, the so-called "dirty dozen". They include intentionally produced chemicals, such as pesticides and PCBs, as well as by-products such as furans and cancer-causing dioxins that are released from industries that use chlorine and from waste incinerators.

The Stockholm Convention also aims to prohibit industries from inventing new POPs, introducing them in the market place or the recycling of POPs. This will prohibit the chemical industry from dumping new hazardous chemicals on the market and will force the industry to adopt the so-called substitution principle. (4)

"The main challenge ahead for the Convention is its implementation. Instead of finding temporary loopholes, such as incineration when dealing with waste, it is far more cost-effective to go straight to the source of the problem and find a sustainable substitute," said Kevin Stairs of Greenpeace when calling on Parties to the Stockholm Convention to start the implementation of the treaty. "Every day more poisons are poured into our environment and bodies and the need for action is urgent."

Notes: (1) The Protocol will enter into force in 90 days after the 50^th country has ratified it. (2) Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a legally binding agreement that seeks to eliminate eventually all persistent organic pollutants (POPs) on the basis of the precautionary principle. (3) List of signatures (4) When there is a threat of serious or irreversible harm to the environment or health from an activity, a practice or a product, an alternative must be adopted and used.