India Agrees to Asbestos Listing

Day 3: In a surprising turn of events, the Indian delegation agreed to the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention which is the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list. The turnaround came at a contact group meeting which was set up for discussion on chrysotile asbestos also known as white asbestos as they member groups of the convention could not agree upon a consensus. However, when India announced its stand it was applauded and it received a standing ovation at the plenary.

This dramatic turn of events came after India opposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list on day two of the Rotterdam Convention. India cited pieces of national evidence suggesting that the substance can be used safely. However, that has changed now and India is also a part of the smaller group that has been set up to discuss and influence the position of Ukraine and Kazakhstan. The discussion is in fact being led by India and Australia.

The Chemical Review Committee had recommended the listing of white asbestos on the grounds of WHO findings that asbestos was a hazardous substance harmful to human health and environment; it had also stated that PIC was especially important for developing countries which have weak legal and institutional structures for addressing hazardous materials. It should be understood that enlisting in PIC list is not equivalent to imposing a ban instead it increases the transparency between trading countries.