Ban Amendment

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What is the Ban Amendment?

During the negotiations of the Basel Convention, most countries involved were seeking a full prohibition on the export of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries. Following its adoption in 1989, the Basel Convention lacking such a ban, was denounced as an instrument that served more to legitimize hazardous waste trade rather than to prohibit what many felt was a criminal activity. The African group of countries, other developing countries and Greenpeace condemned the Convention but they all continued to work diligently to achieve a ban. Finally, in 1994, a unique coalition of developing countries, China, and the European Union passed by consensus the first version of the original intent -- the Basel Ban (Decision II/12).

This victory for international environmental justice was achieved despite powerful opposition from such countries as the United States, Australia, Germany, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom.

The Basel Ban decision effectively banned as of 1 January 1998, all forms of hazardous waste exports from the 29 wealthiest most industrialized countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to all non-OECD countries. For a recent list of countries belonging to the OECD and the Basel Convention (see the Country Status page).

Following this landmark agreement however, opponents of the ban argued that the 1994 decision was not legally binding unless it actually became part of the Basel Convention through amendment. Thus, in 1995, the ban decision had to be fought and won again despite massive, and renewed opposition from such countries as the United States, South Korea, Australia and Canada and this time a very vocal industrial lobby. The second ban decision to amend the Convention (Decision III/1) to include a ban in the actual text of the treaty was also passed by a consensus of the Basel Convention Parties.

Unfortunately, in the many years that followed the Basel Ban came under serious attack on many fronts. The most serious effort was the claim that the text of the Convention regarding entry into force of amendments (Article 17) was ambiguous. Detractors of the Ban argued that the Convention should resolve the ambiguity as to how many and which Parties were needed to adopt an amendment by using a "current time approach" which would have required 3/4 of the current number of Parties rather than the number of Parties that were present and voting ("fixed time approach") at the time of its adoption (1995). This battle was fought out and resolved by a diplomatic settlement process created by Indonesia and Switzerland and known as the Country Led Initiative. This effort in a decision made at COP10 in 2010. There the entry into force was decided in favor of the "fixed time approach" and the number of Parties needed set at 66 of those present and voting in 1995.

As of September 6, 2019, with the ratification of Croatia, the Convention achieved this goal. In accordance with the 90-day waiting period stipulated in the Convention, the Basel Ban Amendment entered into force on December 5, 2019. The Basel Action Network is dedicated to preserving and implementing the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban Amendment.

For further information about the Ban Amendment in general read "The Guide to the Basel Ban Amendment".

Status of Ban Amendment

"For current status of the Ban Amendment ratifications please see the BAN's Country Status page."


A Victory for Environment and Justice: The Basel Ban and How it Happened
“The Basel Ban — Triumph Over Business-As-Usual”
Chronology of the Basel Ban
Text I/22 (Requesting Developing Countries to Prohibit Import of Hazardous Wastes from Industrialized Countries)
Text II/12 (Banning Exports of Hazardous Wastes from OECD to non-OECD Countries)
Text III/1 (Decides to Amend the Basel Convention to Ban Exports from OECD, EU and Lietchenstein to other countries)
Which Parties have Ratified or Implemented the Ban (Country Status)
The Basel Ban Amendment: The First Step Towards Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous Wastes
The Basel Treaty’s Ban on Hazardous Waste Exports: An Unfinished Success Story, By Jim Puckett, International Environment Reporter, 6 December 2000

Treaties and International Agreements