Minamata Convention on Mercury

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  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. It was agreed at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on mercury in Geneva, Switzerland at 7 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, 19 January 2013 and adopted later that year on 10 October 2013 at a Diplomatic Conference (Conference of Plenipotentiaries), held in Kumamoto, Japan.
  • The Minamata Convention entered into force on 16 August 2017, on the 90th day after the date of deposit of the 50th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.
  • The Convention draws attention to a global and ubiquitous metal that, while naturally occurring, has broad uses in everyday objects and is released to the atmosphere, soil and water from a variety of sources. Controlling the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle has been a key factor in shaping the obligations under the Convention.
  • Major highlights of the Minamata Convention include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones, the phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and processes, control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water, and the regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining. The Convention also addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal once it becomes waste, sites contaminated by mercury as well as health issues.

India and the Convention:

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the proposal for ratification of Minamata Convention on Mercury and depositing the instrument of ratification enabling India to become a Party of the Convention on 7th February 2018.
  • The approval entails Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury along with flexibility for continued use of mercury-based products and processes involving mercury compound up to 2025.
  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury will be implemented in the context of sustainable development with the objective to protect human health and environment from the anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
  • The Convention protects the most vulnerable from the harmful effects of mercury and also protects the developmental space of developing countries. Therefore, the interest of the poor and vulnerable groups will be protected.
  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury will further urge enterprises to move to mercury-free alternatives in products and non-mercury technologies in manufacturing processes. This will drive research & development, and promote innovation.
  • It also excludes use of mercury in Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani medicines.