The Rotterdam Convention conference is all about Russia and Kazakhstan

Tue, May 5, 2015


Kathleen Ruff,

In 2013, almost a million tonnes of asbestos was exported by a tiny number of asbestos mining countries.

  •  Just two countries – Russia and Kazakhstan – were responsible for 80% of global asbestos export.
  • Russia on its own was responsible for close to two thirds of total global asbestos export.

What this means is that the attack on the Rotterdam Convention to prevent chrysotile asbestos being listed as a hazardous substance is really all about Russia and Kazakhstan. They are sabotaging the Convention because they want to continue practicing irresponsible trade and to export chrysotile asbestos with no safety warnings required.

Protecting profits, not people’s lives, is their mission.

Brazil, which exported 125,832 tonnes of asbestos in 2013, has not to date ever opposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance.

 Russia and Kazakhstan attack the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, the WHO and the ILO

Russia and Kazakhstan, in order to protect their asbestos profits, are denying other countries the right to Prior Informed Consent and the right to control their borders with regard to hazardous substances.

The Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos mines finance the International Chrysotile Association, which is incorporated and based in Quebec. Thus this Quebec registered organisation is serving the interests of Russia to export asbestos without safety requirements.

Prime Minister Harper’s government has attacked Canadian environmental and human rights groups, saying they are dangerous subversives working for foreign interests.

It is ironic, to say the least, that Prime Minister Harper turns a blind eye to the International Chrysotile Association, an organisation which is based in Canada, is funded by Russia and promotes Russia’s economic and political interests.

Dirty tactics of the International Chrysotile Association

The International Chrysotile Association (ICA) has launched a desperate and disreputable attack on the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention. The Secretariat is carrying out the work that the Parties to the Convention require them to carry out. In the publications it has produced for the Rotterdam Convention conference, however, the ICA puts forward unfounded accusations that the Secretariat is biased, incompetent and working for vested interests.

In its publications for the conference, the ICA also attacks officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), accusing them of wrong-doing and of working for vested interests.

The ICA says, for example:

  • “This time, once again, the report of COP 6 meeting – written by the Secretariat — is not factual and is twisted. Furthermore, more recently, there has been a biased Note by the Secretariat supporting the inclusion of chrysotile on the PIC list.”
  • “For years, the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention has tried to bypass the consensus rule, has produced dubious minutes of the Conference of the Parties, has released draft decisions by means of clumsy manoeuvres with the only aim of getting chrysotile asbestos listed in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.”
  • “Anti-asbestos activists working for WHO-ILO and Rotterdam Convention will, as usual, push hard and will not hesitate to take all possible steps nor spare any effort to get the inclusion of chrysotile.”

The ICA is, in particular, seeking to kill the recommendation of the Convention’s Chemical Review Committee that chrysotile asbestos should be put on the Convention’s list of hazardous substances (CRC). The asbestos industry has repeatedly tried to do this. The ICA attacks the 32 scientists from around the world who form the Convention’s Chemical Review Committee, by claiming their work is incompetent and inaccurate, since the scientific committee does not support asbestos industry financed scientists who promote the use of chrysotile asbestos.

The ICA falsely claims that:

  • Scientific research supports use of chrysotile asbestos.
  • Scientists support the exposure of workers to high levels of asbestos fibres (up to 1 fibre of chrysotile asbestos per cubic centimetre of air) as being harmless.

This is a dangerous and irresponsible distortion of the facts.

The ICA calls on countries “to denounce” the Rotterdam Convention’s Secretariat

The attack by the ICA on the Secretariat is an attack on the Parties to the Convention. It accuses them of allowing misconduct by their Secretariat. Similarly, the attack by the ICA on officials of the WHO and the ILO is an attack on member countries of these organizations, accusing them of allowing misconduct by their officials.


Countries attending the Rotterdam Convention conference should denounce the asbestos industry’s unacceptable conduct


Countries attending the Rotterdam Convention conference should speak up loud and clear to denounce the asbestos lobby’s vilification of the Convention’s Secretariat, of the Chemical Review Committee, of the World Health Organization and of the International Labour Organization.

The asbestos lobby’s conduct is unacceptable.

It is acting within the Conference of the Parties as an enemy of the Rotterdam Convention.


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One Response to “The Rotterdam Convention conference is all about Russia and Kazakhstan”


  1. […] (May 5, 2015)  Rotterdam Convention on asbestos being sabotaged […]

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