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The Stockholm Convention's 20th Anniversary

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Peter Sellar, Selma Abdel-Qader


Twenty years after its adoption, the Stockholm Convention remains the only international instrument regulating a small set of (very harmful) chemical substances globally. Counting 184 Parties on its 20th anniversary, the Stockholm Convention is almost universal in its geographical coverage and can be regarded as a milestone in the global management of chemicals. On the Stockholm Convention's 20th anniversary, this article seeks to (i) retrace briefly the history of the negotiations that led to the adoption of the Stockholm Convention; (ii) outline its main provisions; and (iii) take stock of the main achievements reached by the Convention in its 20 years of existence. This article suggests that, even though the Stockholm Convention has "disappointing" features, certainly due to the difficulty associated with the negotiation of multilateral environmental agreements in general, the Convention has proven to be an effective tool to eliminate, reduce or control the production/use and trade of a set of very harmful chemicals. However, in the authors' opinion, now that the Convention is "mature", it may be the right time to start discussing the introduction of an enforcement mechanism to ensure that all Parties comply with the Convention. In the next decade, the COP should focus on how to create and implement an enforcement mechanism that fosters compliance to ensure that human health and the environment are protected.

Peter Sellar, Partner, Fieldfisher (Belgium) LLP; Selma Abdel-Qader, Associate, Fieldfisher (Belgium) LLP. For further correspondence: Peter.Sellar@fieldfisher.com; Selma.Abdel-Qader@fieldfisher.com. The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the authors alone.

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