South Korea Breaks Rank with anti-Basel Ban Block: Environmental Groups Laud Move, Critical of Japan and US Toxic Trade Policy

Press release - December 7, 2006
Environmental groups lauded South Korea's support, together with the Arab region, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Norway, for the early entry into force of the Basel Convention's Ban Amendment, which prohibits developed nations from exporting toxic wastes to poorer countries, during the deliberations of the Eighth Conference of Parties of the Basel Convention, held in Nairobi, Kenya last week.

The Basel Ban Amendment issue came after the European Union urged countries to settle the cloud raised by Art. 17 (5) of the Basel Convention over the entry into force of amendments to the treaty.  The US and Canada disagreed with South Korea's interpretation, with the US continuing its vocal opposition of the Basel Ban Amendment during the deliberations.

South Korea's move is a significant break from the JUSCANZ, the block of countries that includes Japan, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, who have stridently opposed the Basel Ban Amendment since its introduction in 1995.  It also comes at a critical time where global outrage is high against the toxic chemical waste dumping last September that happened in Cote d'Ivoire that killed seven and injured scores of people.

"The tragedy and injustice that continues to beset nations like Cote d'Ivoire should have stopped yesterday," said Richard Gutierrez of the Basel Action Network - Asia-Pacific.  "It is high time for the few countries such as the US and Canada to cease their obstructionist efforts against the early entry into force of the Basel Ban and respect the will of the rest of the world."

Environmental NGOs present in the Nairobi meeting were also critical of Japan's efforts to establish waste colonies around Asia through the use free trade bilateral agreements (FTA).   The Japanese FTAs contain significant provisions allowing Japan unobstructed pathways to send toxic wastes to its poorer Asian neighbors undermining the Basel Convention's obligations to minimize generation and transboundary movement of toxic wastes, as well as the environmental justice provision of the Basel Ban Amendment.

"We need an industrialized Asian nation to lead the way towards a toxic waste free Asia, and Japan is failing miserably at this," said Beau Baconguis of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.  Added Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives: "With South Korea's sentiment in Nairobi, there is hope that a new leader can emerge to guide the rest of the Asian region away from Japan's toxic waste colonization."

Other contacts: Richard Gutierrez, BAN Asia-Pacific Tel: +63.02.9290376, e-mail: Manny Calonzo, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Tel. +63.02.929.0376, e-mail: mannyc@no-burn.org.