A Chronology of the Basel Ban
May 1981 - Montevideo Program -- United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Governing Council=s Ninth Session establishes Ad Hoc Committee of Legal Experts. They launch the Montevideo Program which identifies the disposal of hazardous wastes as an area needing cooperation in international law. This program leads to the convening of a working group to develop guidelines and principles on the environmentally sound transport, management and disposal of hazardous wastes.
1986 - National Bans -- Three countries ban the import of hazardous waste.
August, 1986 - Voyage of the Khian Sea -- Cargo Vessel Khian Sea departs Philadelphia in the USA loaded with 14,000 tons of toxic incinerator ash. After dumping some of the load at Gonaives beach in Haiti, the ship embarks on infamous voyage of epic proportions. Ship plies the waters of 5 continents for 27 months changing its name several times. Greenpeace alerts all likely ports and ship is repeatedly turned away. Suspected of finally dumping remainder of cargo in Indian Ocean. Waste still lies on Haitian beach.
November 1986 - Sandoz/Ciba-Geigy Chemical Spill -- A fire at the Sandoz chemical factory in Basel, Switzerland, preceded by a leak at the Ciba-Geigy factory, caused a major flow of contaminated water into the Rhine River. More than 30 tonnes of highly toxic waste entered the waters of the Rhine. This disaster caused Swiss Chemical Companies to push for the idea of the Basel Convention to reverse the public relations damage caused by the spill.
March, 1987 - New York Garbage Barge -- Barge named Mobro is towed from Islip, New York carrying 3,186 tons of solid waste. Garbage cruise becomes sad international joke as it attempts to unload its cargo in 6 U.S. states. Failing that, the Mobro continues south and is barred from the waters of Mexico, Belize, and the Bahamas. On September 1, 1987 after a 6,000 mile, 162 day odyssey, the barge returns the garbage to its point of origin, New York City.
June, 1987 - Cairo Guidelines -- UNEP Governing Councils 14th Session approves the Cairo guidelines and authorizes the Executive Director of UNEP to convene a working group of legal and technical experts with a mandate to prepare a global convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes.
July, 1987 - Greenpeace Launches Campaign against Hazardous Waste Trade -- Greenpeace research reveals that waste traders had already attempted to export more than 163,000,000 tons of waste by 1986. Seeing the proliferation of the international trade in hazardous wastes as the ultimate escape valve for irresponsible industry to use in avoidance of waste prevention at source. Greenpeace establishes an international campaign to fight waste trade.
August, 1987 - May 1988 -- Italian Chemical Wastes Poison Koko Beach, Nigeria -- Italian businessman sends eight thousand drums of hazardous chemical waste to small port town in Nigeria. The drums are labeled "relating to the building trade, and "residual and allied chemicals." Nigerian workers eventually remove the waste for export back to Italy. Many are hospitalized for severe chemical burns, nausea, vomiting blood, and partial paralysis. In response to the dumping, Nigeria recalls its ambassador to Italy and then seized an Italian freighter in order to pressure Italy to remove the wastes. Subsequently the ships Karin B and Deepsea Carrier were employed to return the wastes to Europe where they were met with massive protests.
September, 1987 - The Ship Radhost Delivers Italian Chemical Waste to Lebanon -- Workers in Beirut port unload 15,800 barrels of different sizes. Waste barrels are sold as raw materials to factories. Some of the waste is used as fertilizers, pesticides and paints and some is dumped in the countryside.
October 1987 - Budapest Meeting -- First Organizational meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts with a Mandate to Prepare a Global Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes.
1988 - National Bans -- By 1988, thirty-three countries ban the importation of hazardous wastes.
February, 1988 - February 1989 - Basel Drafting Groups -- Five more working groups are held in Geneva, Caracas, again in Geneva, Luxembourg and Basel. Experts from 96 states and representatives from 50 organizations participate in one or more of the sessions.
January, 1989 - The Ship Jolly Rosso Retrieves Italian Waste dumped in Lebanon -- Jolly Rosso departs Beirut without receiving official Lebanese confirmation that all Italian toxic waste dumped there is on board the vessel.
March, 1989 - Conference of Plenipotentiaries, Basel Convention Signed, Greenpeace Denounces Accord, Africa Walks Away -- In 20-22 March, the final draft of the Convention is submitted. The U.S. leads the opposition to any form of ban to developing countries or countries with less progressive standards despite repeated requests from developing countries for such a ban. Thirty-five states and the European Community sign the Convention. The African group of states walks out without signing. Greenpeace denounces the Convention as being an instrument of legalization of waste trade for failing to ban even the most immoral and environmentally damaging waste trade.
July, 1989 - OAU Resolutions Condemn Waste Trade -- From 17 - 21 July, African Ministers of the Organization of African Unity, meeting in Addis Ababa condemn the dumping of nuclear and industrial waste in Africa. They call for an African Convention to ban waste imports into Africa.
November, 1989 - Fall of Berlin Wall, Waste Invasion of Eastern Europe Begins -- Western wastes, primarily from Germany, flood across newly opened borders of the former communist bloc. Scandals erupt over wastes in Poland, Ukraine, Albania, Romania and other countries.
December, 1989 - Lomé IV Convention Signed -- At the insistence of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states, the world's first legally binding international treaty banning waste trade is signed. Treaty's article 39 prohibits 69 ACP countries from importing hazardous wastes, and prevents the European Community from exporting hazardous wastes to ACP countries.
October, 1990 - Seventh Ministerial Meeting on the Environment in Latin America and the Caribbean -- Environment Ministers meet in Trinidad and Tobago and pledge to adopt strong measures to stop the onslaught of waste trade proposals targeting their region.
December, 1990 - Central American Presidents Propose Regional Waste Trade Ban Pact -- Presidents sign an agreement calling for new laws prohibiting the import of toxic wastes under any circumstances.
January, 1991 - Bamako Convention Adopted -- On 30 January 1991, twelve African countries sign a Convention under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), banning all radioactive and hazardous waste imports into the African continent.
1992 - National Bans -- By 1992, Eighty-eight countries have banned hazardous waste imports.
1992 - U.S. Company Sends Toxic Waste to Bangladesh Labeled as Fertilizer -- Bangladesh government purchases more than 3,000 tons of lead and cadmium contaminated fertilizer from South Carolina company. Toxic fertilizer is sold throughout Bangladesh and spread on farms.
Early 1992 - South African Workers Poisoned by Foreign Mercury Waste Importer -- Three workers at the Thor Chemicals plant in Cato Ridge, South Africa are admitted to a local hospital with mercury poisoning. One is soon released but unable to work again. Another lies comatose, and the third dies.
March 1992 - G-77 and China Agree Common Position for Ban -- During preparatory meeting for the UN Conference on Environment and Development, the G-77 group of developing states and China formalize a common position for a hazardous waste trade ban.
May 1992 - Basel Convention Enters Force -- Basel receives its 20th ratification and enters force.
November 1992 - Nordic Council Calls for Ban -- Meeting of Parliamentarians agrees to call for a full hazardous waste trade ban from OECD to non-OECD countries within the Basel Convention.
November 1992 - Basel Convention First Conference of Parties Agrees Import Ban for Developing Countries -- The First Conference of Parties takes place in Piriapolis, Uruguay from 30 November to 2 December, 1992. UNEP Director Dr. Mostafa Tolba calls for a total ban on all hazardous waste exports to developing countries from developed countries including those for recycling operations. G-77 Group proposes total ban on all exports of hazardous wastes including recycling. Basel Convention agrees in Decision I/22 to request developing countries to prohibit the import of hazardous wastes from industrialized countries.
December, 1992 -- Central American Agreement Completed -- Presidents of the Central American countries agree to ban waste imports into the region.
February, 1993 - European Union Adopts Ban on Waste Exports for Final Disposal -- Regulation 259/93 on transboundary movements of waste involving the EU is adopted. It bans all waste exports from EU for final disposal except to EFTA countries. This agreement becomes effective 1 May 1994.
September, 1993 - ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Meeting Calls for Regional Ban -- Association of Southeast Asian Nations votes to conclude a regional hazardous waste importation ban.
October, 1993 - Barcelona Convention Supports a Waste Trade Ban -- Parties to the Mediterranean Sea treaty agree to actively support a total prohibition on the export of hazardous wastes to non-OECD countries.
November, 1993 - ECLAC Supports Waste Trade Ban -- Experts at the meeting of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean call for the Basel Convention to prohibit waste exports from industrialized to developing countries.
1994 - National Bans -- By 1994, more than one hundred countries have banned the import of hazardous wastes.
January, 1994 - 19th General Assembly of IUCN Calls for Waste Trade Ban -- Delegates adopt a resolution calling upon the Parties to the Basel Convention to adopt a legally binding decision in favor of banning All hazardous waste shipments from OECD to non-OECD countries, including those destined for recycling operations.
March, 1994 - GLOBE Calls for Ban -- Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment calls for total hazardous waste trade ban from OECD to non-OECD countries. U.S. Vice President Al Gore presides.
March, 1994 – Second Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention Bans All Waste Trade from OECD to non-OECD Countries -- At the Second Conference of Parties in Geneva on 25 March, Decision II/12 is passed by a consensus of 65 parties present. After negotiations between G-77 and certain OECD states, delegates agree to phase-out all waste exports from OECD to non-OECD countries for recycling by 1998. Exports for final disposal are banned immediately.
1995 - National Bans -- By 1995 more than 120 countries have banned the import of hazardous wastes.
March, 1995 - Nordic Countries Send Ban Amendment Proposal to Secretariat -- Amendment Proposal to fully instate Decision II/12 as an Amendment to the convention sent to the Secretariat.
March, 1995 - Dakar Workshop on Ban Implementation -- Participants agree that in order to implement the Basel Ban Decision, more work will be needed to clarify the definitions of hazardous wastes. Denmark proposes meeting on hazardous waste definitions.
April, 1995 - European Parliament Vote Overwhelmingly to Implement Ban -- European Parliament agree 407-3 to implement the Basel Ban into EU law.
April, 1995 - Non-Aligned Movement Minsters Reiterates Support for the Basel Ban Decision -- At Ministerial meeting in Bandung, Indonesia, Non-Aligned Movement urges strict implementation of Decision II/12.
April, 1995 - European Commission Proposes to Implement the Basel Ban into EU Law
May, 1995 - Danish Meeting Makes Rapid Progress on Definitions -- Informal Working Group in Snekkerstein, Denmark makes progress on further defining what is a Basel hazardous waste.
June, 1995 - European Council of Environment Ministers Agrees to Ban -- Council agrees to give the Commission a mandate to negotiate the amendment of the Basel Convention to fully incorporate Decision II/12.
September, 1995 - Third Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention Adopts Ban as an Amendment -- After a great fight by the JUSCANZ (Japan, United States, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia) to undo the ban during the amendment decision, it is agreed by consensus to amend the Convention to instate the export ban effective for a group of countries appearing on Annex VII which consists of OECD, EU and Liechtenstein.
September, 1995 – Waigani Treaty is Adopted -- In Waigani, Papua New Guinea the South Pacific Forum States adopt a treaty which prohibits each Pacific Island developing Party from importing all hazardous and radioactive wastes from outside of the Convention area.
December, 1995 - First of Series of Technical Working Group Meetings to Revise Definitions of Hazardous Wastes -- Starting at a meeting in Bonn and following up on Snekkerstein meeting, The Basel Technical Working Group begins task of naming actual wastes that are subject to the Convention elaborating on Annexes I, II and III of the Convention.
June, 1996 – Ban First Ratifier -- Finland becomes the first country to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment
October, 1996 – Izmir Protocol Adopted -- The Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution, (Barcelona Convention) agree a protocol that prohibits the export of hazardous and radioactive wastes to non-OECD countries and those Parties that are not members of the European Community are prohibited from importing hazardous and radioactive wastes.
January, 1997 - European Union Implements Basel Ban -- An amendment to EU Regulation 259/93 is adopted which bans all waste shipments for recovery to OECD countries as of 1 January, 1998.
February, 1997 - Technical Working Group Completes Work on Hazardous Waste Definition Revisions -- New hazardous wastes lists deemed necessary by Basel Parties in order to implement the Convention and the Basel Ban have been formulated for presentation to COP4 for adoption. This agreement, found acceptable to industry and environmentalists alike is hailed as a major breakthrough.
September, 1997 - European Council ratifies Basel Ban Amendment III/1 -- EU ratifies the Basel Ban Amendment. Deposit of Ratification takes place on 4 October. This means 15 Annex VII countries have effectively implemented the ban!
October, 1997 - Basel Conference of Parties Canceled due to Asian Pollution -- Horrible fires due to environmental neglect and abuse in South East Asia cause cancellation of COP4 of Basel Convention scheduled to take place in Kuching, Malaysia, "ground zero" of smoke.
January, 1998 - January 1, Effective Date for Basel Ban on exports for Recovery Operations -- As of January 1, all exports of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries would be in violation of the spirit or law (EU) of Decision II/12 and III/1.
February, 1998 - The Basel Action Network is Launched -- New global network of toxics activists whose first mission is to prevent weakening and ensure implementation of the Basel Ban is launched a day before (22 February 1998) COP4.
February, 1998 - The Fourth Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention Agrees to Maintain Ban, and Adopts Elaborated Waste Definitions -- COP4 took place in Kuching, Malaysia from 23-27 February. The newly elaborated Basel definitions of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes were adopted as Annexes VIII and IX. While some countries tried to weaken the Basel Ban via amendments to expand Annex VII, this effort was rejected by the Parties which ruled that the Basel Ban could not be amended until it entered into force. As a compromise they agreed to study Annex VII prior to its entry into force.
April, 1998 - Bamako Convention Enters into Force -- Convention banning hazardous wastes into Continent of Africa becomes international law.
December, 1998 - Taiwan to Cambodia Dumping Scheme Shocks the World, Causes Death -- The illegal dumping by the Chemical giant, Formosa Plastics Group in Taiwan of 3,000 tonnes of mercury contaminated wastes on a village near the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, creates an international furore after 2 persons that handle the waste die and a riot and panic ensue resulting in the deaths of others. Formosa Plastics refuses to pay compensation for any losses and subsequently attempts to export their wastes to other communities around the world.
April, 1999 - Technical Working Group Agrees Terms of Reference for Study on Annex VII, Agrees to take up Shipbreaking as an issue -- Despite an attempt by the JUSCANZ group (United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand) to undermine the ban in both this TWG meeting and in a previous one held in Pretoria, South Africa, via the Annex VII study, terms of reference are agreed that, among other things, examine ways to assist parties to ratify the ban. After BAN and Greenpeace push to include shipbreaking as an issue it is agreed to ask the Parties at COP5 to take up the matter.
December, 1999 - The Fifth Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention -- COPV celebrates 10 years of existence with the adoption of an extremely weak Liability Protocol and a Declaration on Environmentally Sound Management which calls for an new emphasis on waste minimization and capacity building.
March, 2000 -- Ban Ratifications at 20
April 2000 -- African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) calls for ratification of Basel Ban Amendment among African countries.
September 2000 -- Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific calls for ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.