A legal analysis of multilateral environmental agreements dealing with hazardous products and hazardous waste

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The first human activities which were recognized as major environmental threats were industrial production processes. As a result, this field was the first which was subjected to environmental law, initially on a domestic level, and then subsequently also on a regional and global level. As development continued to progress, people realized that there were considerably more human activities that could also have a hazardous impact upon the environment. One of these were hazardous products, products which possess the inherent capacity to cause adverse effects on human health or the environment. This group includes, in particular; .certain chemicals, like pesticides, industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals, as well as many other nonchemical products as diverse as radioactive materials, consumer goods and, in more recent times, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As a consequence, many countries have adopted national laws to deal with these products. In addition, states have had to recognize that the issue of hazardous products also has certain international ramifications. This led to the adoption of a special group of international environmental instruments which specifically addressed product related hazards. The, present study undertakes to analyze this group of i agreements with a view to identifying common characteristics and differences. In order to achieve this, it concentrates on the four Multilateral Environmental Agreements which have been concluded in the field: the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (Rotterdam Convention), the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Cartagena Protocol), the Montreal Protocolon Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol) and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (Stockholm Convention). In addition, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention) was also included in the study, in spite of the fact that waste presents certain peculiarities which render its classification as a product contentious.

Incudes bibliographical references.