Asbestos industry fighting to destroy UN Convention that protects populations from asbestos harm

Mon, Jul 4, 2016


Kathleen Ruff,

For over ten years, the asbestos industry has succeeded in preventing chrysotile asbestos from being put on the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous substances so that it can keep on exporting chrysotile asbestos to countries in the global South while hiding its hazards.

Chrysotile asbestos meets all the criteria of the Convention and should be listed, but a tiny number of countries allied to the asbestos industry, led first by Canada and now by Russia, have put industry profits ahead of human health and for the past ten years have  sabotaged the Convention.

Special initiative to try to save the Rotterdam Convention

A special UN initiative, led by Australia, has been launched to try to stop the sabotage of the recommendation made by the Convention’s expert scientific body to list chrysotile asbestos and to enable the Convention to be implemented effectively without industry interference. For this purpose, twenty-eight countries who are parties to the Convention, are participating in a special workshop being held in Riga, Latvia from July 3 – 5. Documents about the special initiative and the Riga meeting are available here.

The asbestos industry has launched an all-out attack to defeat the initiative. Asbestos lobby organisations from Russia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Mexico, Quebec and Zimbabwe are attending the meeting with the purpose of preventing chrysotile asbestos from being put on the UN list of hazardous substances.

Here are the 9 asbestos lobby organisations attending the Riga meeting:

  • Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers’ Association (ACPMA), India. Mr. Vivek Chandra Rao Sripalle, Director.
  • Confederation of Employers of Kazakhstan (CEK). Mr. Nurlan Omarov, Advisor.
  • Federação dos Trabalhadores da Construção de São Paulo (FETICOM), Brazil. Mr. Emilio Ferreira Junior, President.
  • Federação Internacional dos Trabalhadores do Amianto Crisotila (FITAC), Brazil. Mr. Adilson Conceiçao Santana, President.
  • Instituto Brasileiro do Crisotila (IBC), Brazil. Mr. Marcondes Braga de Moraes, International Affairs Coordinator.
  • Instituto Mexicano de Fibroindustria A.C., Mexico. Mr. Antonio Galván Carriles, Presidente del Consejo Directivo.
  • International Alliance of Trade Union Organizations “Chrysotile”, Russia. Mr. Dmitrii Selianin, Adviser for International Affairs.
  • International Chrysotile Association, Quebec. Mr. Emiliano Alonso, Legal Adviser.
  • Zimbabwe National Chrysotile Taskforce. Mr. Humphrey Mapuranga, Medical Officer, National Social Security Authority.

Another lobby organisation representing the agro-chemical industry is also attending:

  •  CropLife International. Mr. Bernhard G. Johnen, Director, International Regulatory Policy.

Russia is the leading exporter of asbestos by far in the world. It has three delegates attending the Riga meeting, including long-time promoter of continued use of chrysotile asbestos, Dr. Evgeny Kovalevskiy.

It is critical that countries who support the right to Prior Informed Consent, which the Rotterdam Convention provides, demonstrate their determination to defeat the asbestos lobby and to implement the repeated recommendation of the Convention’s expert scientific body that chrysotile asbestos be listed as a hazardous substance.

Canada, in particular, as the country that has played the leading role in sabotaging the Convention, has a duty to now play a key, strong role to save the Convention. See Time for a firm stand against asbestos, Canada.



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