The five day plenary session of the Stockholm convention began in Geneva today. The new chair for the COP meeting, from the Czech Republic, has been selected. The main meeting on endosulfan will begin on Tuesday.
On day one India distributed its statement at the regional (Asia Pacific) meeting. It still claims that Endosulfan is not a health hazard and that its recommendation in the Persistent Organic Pollutant Registration Committee-sixth meeting was based on selective data and contrary evidence from other studies including FAO and WHO.
India is trying to push the Asia Pacific region into toeing its line and present the draft document as a statement from the Asia Pacific region. But it is unlikely that most countries, barring those over which India has diplomatic influence, will follow India. Though status of countries like China and Israel, the other big producers is still not clear, countries like Thailand and South Korea are unlikely to accept the statement.
The Indian statement has been harping on the fact that any decision on substantive matters like banning a chemical in the Stockholm Convention should be reached at by a consensus and not a vote. A voting is permitted under the Convention rules and India is worried that they will lose out if the COP decides to vote. In its statement India has urged the COP to decide on the fate of endosulfan only after cost analysis, technical feasibility and socio-economic consideration of the alternatives are done and the issue of adequate financial assistance has been solved.
The African countries are more or less talking about a common agreement of adding endosulfan to Annexe A of the convention with out exemptions. The same is the news from GRULAC- Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries has agreed to the same position as that of the African countries and are asking for financial resources to implement the addition of endosulfan to the Stockholm convention. These are three important groups, including Asia Pacific. However, two more groups that of Eastern Europe and a group of the developed countries have not yet come up with their statements.
Back home, the Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan, went on a day long hunger strike at the state capital demanding a nationwide ban of endosulfan and assistance from the centre for the victims of Kasaragod. This was held to coincide with the first day of the meeting at Geneva. The cM also lashed out at the prime minister for not taking a pro people decision despite the proof that endosulfan is hazardous for humans and ecology alike.