Ban Amendment

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What is the Ban Amendment?

Following its adoption in 1989, the Basel Convention 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 continued to work diligently within it 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 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 decision to amend the Convention (Decision III/1) was also passed by a consensus of the Basel Convention Parties.

Unfortunately, for the many years that followed the Basel Ban came under serious attack. The most serious effort was the claim that the text of the Convention regarding entry into force of amendments was ambiguous and detractors of the Ban argued that the Convention should resolve the matter by using a current time approach which would have required 3/4 of the current number of Parties rather than than the number that was present and voting at the time of its adoption (1995). This battle was fought out and resolved by a diplomatic settlement process known as the Country Led Initiative which culminated 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. (see Country Status).

As of September 6, 2019, with the ratification of Croatia, the Convention has achieved this goal. In accordance with the 90-day waiting period stipulated in the Convention, the Basel Ban Amendment should enter into force on December 5, 2019.

The Basel Action Network is dedicated to preserving and implementing the Basel Ban.

For further information about the history of the Basel Ban read the article "The Basel Ban: A Triumph over Business-as-Usual".

Status of Ban Amendment

For current status of the Ban Amendment please see the 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)
Current Number of Ratifications (Deposit Box)
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