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, and some from Eastern and Western Europe along with Greenpeace, managed to pass by consensus what has come to be known as the Basel Ban ([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 list of countries belonging to the OECD and the Basel Convention (see the Country Status table).
Following this decision, opponents of the ban argued that the 1994 decision was not legally binding unless it became part of the Basel Convention through amendment. Thus in 1995 the ban decision had to be fought and won again despite massive opposition from such countries as the United States, South Korea, Australia and Canada and 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,the Basel Ban is still under serious attack and needs to be vigilantly protected against further efforts at sabotage (see Issues for COP4 and Basel Action News) primarily by the United States, Australia, Canada and such industrial lobby groups as the United States Chamber of Commerce, and the International Chamber of Commerce. Further, in order for the amendment to enter the force of law it will need to be ratified by 62 of the Basel Parties (see Deposit Box). The Basel Action Network is dedicated to preserving and implementing the Basel Ban.
For further information about the history and current status of the Basel Ban read the article "The Basel Ban: A Triumph over Business-as-Usual".