VI. China and the Rotterdam Convention on the Adoption of the Prior Informed Consent Procedure in International Trade in Certain Dangerous Chemicals and Agriculture Chemicals
From October 30 to November 3, the 7th session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on the Rotterdam Convention on the Adoption of the Prior Informed Consent Procedure in International Trade in Certain Dangerous Chemicals and Agriculture Chemicals (hereinafter as the convention) was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Over 200 delegates from 104 countries, UN specialized agencies, intergovernmental international organizations and 6 NGOs attended the session.
As the convention was related to international trade in chemicals and agriculture chemicals and the various countries including the developing countries were at rather widely different stages of development in this respect, it was difficult to form an unified position on most of the topics on the agenda. Negotiations were carried out in the form of the two big groups of the import countries and the export countries confronting each other. The session held consultations on issues such as the rules of procedure of the conference, dispute settling procedure and non compliance . The Legal Working Group set up by the session held in-depth discussions on the draft resolution on the rules of procedure of the conference submitted by the secretariat. The focus of contradictions of the various parties centered on the session period, the procedure of attendance by the NGOs, the mode of vote casting and the quorum of the conference. Due to time constraint, the session was unable to debate on these issues and decided only to list them as one of the focal matters the 8th session of the INC should resolve. On the question of dispute settling procedure, the session held preliminary discussions of the document on the dispute settling mechanism submitted by the secretariat and listed it as a focal issue to be discussed at the next session. On the question of non compliance, based on the motions tabled by Canada and other countries, the session decided that the parties should submit to the secretariat before February 1, 2001 their position papers on the situation of non compliance and the reporting system and specific programs and the secretariat would summarize them and draft a document on different degrees and patterns and submit it for discussion at the 8th session. On the question of agriculture chemicals containing harmful impurities, the session decided that the 2nd session of the Provisional Chemical Reviewing Committee would review the motions of the Technical Liaison Group and recommend one of the solutions to the next INC for discussion and decision. On the seating of the secretariat of the convention, Switzerland, Italy and Germany reiterated their applications of hoping to place it in Geneva, Rome and Bonn and provided relevant information. Finally the session decided that all applications should be submitted to the secretariat before April 15, 2001 so that they could be reviewed by the 8th session.
The Chinese Delegation consisted of officials from the State Environmental Protection Administration, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperations and the Customs General Administration attended the session. The Department of Fishery, Agriculture and Natural Resources Protection of the HKSAR sent officials to join the Chinese Delegation which actively participated in the negotiations and consultations of the conference, the technical liaison group and the legal working group and expressed its constructive views on the important topics such as the rules of procedure of the conference, the arrangement for the period of transition of the convention. In view of the situation of the negotiations, the Chinese Delegation stepped up its consultations with the relevant countries and safeguarded China's interests to the maximum degree.
Up to the present session, 11 countries ratified, accepted or acceded to the convention which may go into force in 2003. According to the estimate of the secretariat, the 1st session of the Conference of the Contracting Parties may hopefully take place in the same year.