The West African, French-speaking country of Togo and the Central Europe, German-speaking Liechtenstein are the latest countries to endorse the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
While the Government of Liechtenstein on 1 February 2017, deposited its instrument of accession, the Togolese Government two days later followed suit on 3 February 2017, thereby bringing to 38 the total number of future Parties to the Minamata Convention.
Costa Rica on 19 January, 2017 became the 36th Future Party to the Minamata Convention when it deposited its instrument of accession to that effect.
A minimum of 50 nations are required to ratify the Minamata Convention to make it legally binding.
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 (INC) in Geneva, Switzerland on Saturday, 19 January 2013 – some four years ago.
Nigeria is one of the 128 signatories to the global treaty, but she is yet to ratify it. There are indications that Nigeria will soon ratify the global treaty, as the Ministry of Environment will next week in Lagos convene a national workshop for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for the Minamata Convention Initial Assessment (MIA) of the Minamata Convention.
Ratification by Nigeria automatically makes her a Party to the Convention with the duty to domesticate its content.
The signing of the Convention would enable Nigeria 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.
Nations that have ratified the Convention include: Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Chad, China, Costa Rica, Djibouti, Ecuador, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Gayana, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lesotho Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mali and Mauritania.
Others are Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay and Zambia.
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.