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Afghanistan emerges 43rd Party to Minamata Convention

The Government of Afghanistan on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 deposited its instrument of accession, thereby becoming the 43rd future Party to the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Ashraf Ghani
Dr Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan. Photo credit: AFP PHOTO/Wakil Kohsar

This comes after Burkina Faso and Canada ratified the global treaty on April 10 and April 7, 2017 respectively. Canada’s ratification was preceded by those of Ghana, Honduras, Liechtenstein and Togo, among others.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury, was agreed at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC5) in Geneva, Switzerland on Saturday, January 19, 2013.

A minimum of 50 nations are required to ratify the Convention to make it legally binding, a scenario that will ensure that the First Conference of the Parties (COP1) to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, scheduled to take place in the last week of September, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, becomes a reality.

Nigeria is one of the 128 signatories to the global treaty, but she is yet to officially ratify it. The nation’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 approved the ratification of the Convention.

Ratification automatically makes a nation a Party to the Convention with the duty to domesticate its content.

The signing of the Convention would enable such a country to:

  • Develop a National Implementation Strategy (NIS)/Action Plan to holistically address challenges relating to the reduction and elimination of Mercury;
  • Undertake a comprehensive inventory as a basis to develop and implement a more robust Mercury preventive programme which will include the identification and location, contaminated sites and extent of contamination, storage, handling and disposal to ensure that mercury related activities do not result in further damage to health and the environment;
  • Enhance national capacities with respect to human resources development and institutional strengthening, towards addressing concerns about the long-term effects of Mercury on both human health and the environment and also to ensure the effective domestication of the instrument that will be implementable at national level;
  • Sensitise the populace and policy makers on the hazards of mercury;
  • Develop and implement Mercury Release Minimisation Projects; and,
  • Control mercury supply and trade.

Major highlights of the Minamata Convention include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones, the phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and processes, control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water, and the regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining. The Convention also addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal once it becomes waste, sites contaminated by mercury as well as health issues.

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