Problems with Current U.S. Policy.President Bush announced just prior to Earth Day 2001 that he intended to sign the POPs treaty in Stockholm and move quickly toward ratification The confirmation or adoption of an act that has already been performed.
A principal can, for example, ratify something that has been done on his or her behalf by another individual who assumed the authority to act in the capacity of an agent. . He pointed toward the bipartisan nature of this commitment, as it was finalizing a process overseen by his Democratic predecessor. Many U.S. NGOs welcomed the Bush administration's commitment to the treaty, and they are now challenging the State Department and the Senate to follow through with ratification of the Stockholm Convention Stockholm Convention is an international legally binding agreement on persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
In 1995, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called for global action to be taken on POPs, which it defined as “chemical and the companion Rotterdam Convention The Rotterdam Convention is a multilateral agreement that became legally binding to its parties in 2004 to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals. As of 18 October 2006, 73 countries were signatories and 111 were parties. before the end of 2001.
This rapid schedule of ratification is both justifiable and unprecedented. International treaties have been known to languish for many years in the U.S. Senate and/or State Department--or somewhere in the policy nether-land between. Yet, in the case of the Stockholm Convention, the treaty has widespread support from the NGO NGO
Noun 1. NGO - an organization that is not part of the local or state or federal government
nongovernmental organization community, industry, and governments around the world, and it regulates a set of chemicals that have been known for decades to be extremely dangerous Exteremely Dangerous is a 1999 four part series for ITV starring Sean Bean as an ex-MI5 undercover agent convicted of the brutal murder of his wife and child who goes on the run to try and clear his name. He sets out to follow up a strange clue sent to him in prison. .
Positions taken by the U.S. during treaty negotiations make rapid ratification even more urgent. In Stockholm, the U.S. successfully blocked a European proposal that would have initiated an interim process of reviewing new chemicals proposed for addition under the convention instead of waiting for ratification. The European plan European plan
n. Abbr. EP
A hotel plan in which the rates include only the charges for a room and not for meals.
Noun 1. would have established an international scientific review committee immediately, and the committee would then have made recommendations to the Conference of the Parties once the treaty comes into force. This model parallels the Interim Chemical Review Committee established upon signature of the Rotterdam Convention in 1998. The absence of such an interim process could delay for years the addition of new chemicals under the Stockholm Convention, and this makes the treaty's ratification all the more urgent.
Some of the chemicals likely to be considered for addition, such as the pesticides lindane lindane: see insecticides. and endosulfan endosulfan
an organochlorine insecticide. See chlorinated hydrocarbons. , are still in widespread use in both industrialized in·dus·tri·al·ize
v. in·dus·tri·al·ized, in·dus·tri·al·iz·ing, in·dus·tri·al·iz·es
1. To develop industry in (a country or society, for example).
2. and developing nations despite clear evidence of toxicity, persistence, and bioaccumulation bi·o·ac·cu·mu·la·tion
The increase in the concentration of a substance, especially a contaminant, in an organism or in the food chain over time. . Elimination of these additional chemicals is likely to be much more controversial in the U.S. than an agreement to eliminate chemicals that have already been banned domestically for decades.
In the Rose Garden statement announcing his intent to sign and ratify ratify v. to confirm and adopt the act of another even though it was not approved beforehand. Example: An employee for Holsinger's Hardware orders carpentry equipment from Phillips Screws and Nails although the employee was not authorized to buy anything. the POPs treaty, President Bush noted that "these chemicals respect no boundaries and can harm Americans even when released abroad." This statement, while true, does not reflect the other side of the equation--the fact that continued use and release of persistent chemicals in the U.S. can and does harm citizens in other countries around the world.
The process of adding new chemicals under the Stockholm Convention will be informed by the precautionary principle The precautionary principle is a moral and political principle which states that if an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible harm to the public, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate , a concept that appears in several places in treaty text and is strongly supported by NGOs around the world. The principle of precaution recognizes that when there is evidence that a chemical threatens "serious or irreversible damage," action should be taken even in the absence of full scientific certainty. This principle recognizes the tremendous complexity of scientific research on the environmental and health impacts of synthetic chemicals, and it directs the international community to take protective action based on available knowledge.
Most European countries are well ahead of the U.S. in embracing the precautionary principle in both domestic and international policies. In negotiating the Stockholm Convention, the U.S. strenuously opposed precautionary pre·cau·tion·ar·y also pre·cau·tion·al
Of, relating to, or constituting a precaution: taking precautionary measures; gave precautionary advice.
Adj. 1. language, while Europe strongly promoted it. This proved, along with the issue of financing, to be one of the most contentious issues in the final hours of treaty negotiations. On the domestic European front, Sweden recently adopted a comprehensive set of concrete national environmental quality objectives, many specifically based on the precautionary principle. In Germany, producers of new chemicals must go through a precautionary process of "alternatives assessment" to prove that other products less harmful to the environment could not serve the purpose of the product they are proposing to introduce.
During negotiation of the Rotterdam Convention, the U.S. clearly recognized the potential impact of the more precautionary and protective policies in Europe. Under the voluntary PIC (1) (Programmable Interrupt Controller) An Intel 8259A chip that controls interrupts. Starting with the 286-based AT, there are two PICs in a PC, providing a total of 15 usable IRQs. procedure, a pesticide qualifies for the PIC list if it has been banned or severely restricted in any country. The alternative proposal, supported by the U.S. and eventually incorporated into the final Rotterdam Convention, stipulates that a pesticide must be banned in two countries in two separate regions to trigger the PIC procedure. The regional boundaries used for the treaty lump the U.S. and Canada in one region and the 43 countries of Europe in another. The U.S. position on this issue stemmed from concerns that bans in Europe, based on more precautionary policies, would lead the PIC process to potentially undermine markets for U.S.-based pesticide manufacturers.
Despite U.S. reluctance, the international community is moving toward precautionary approaches that will provide real protection for both human health and the environment. Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson closed the Stockholm Convention signing ceremony A signing ceremony is a ceremony in which a bill passed by a legislature is signed (approved) by an executive, thus becoming a law.
Modern-day signing ceremonies are derived from ceremonies that occurred when the British monarch gave Royal Assent to acts of Parliament. by highlighting the critical importance of the precautionary principle: "Dangerous substances must be replaced by harmless ones step by step. If there is the least suspicion that new chemicals have dangerous characteristics, it is better to reject them."
* The U.S. has a history of slow ratification of international agreements.
* In Stockholm, the U.S. blocked the establishment of a scientific review committee, designed to begin reviewing additional chemicals to be eliminated under the Stockholm Convention.
* U.S. policies do not adequately reflect the precautionary principle, an approach to chemical policies prevalent in Europe and substantially more protective of human health and the environment than U.S. procedures.