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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs


“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury respects no boundaries and exposes people everywhere”
“Only a global pact can curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

In October 2013 the convention text was adopted and signed by 128 countries, but would not take legal effect until at least 50 countries had ratified it formally.  This milestone was reached in May of this year, and the convention enters into force today 16 August. 

“We are now on the right track,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, European Environmental Bureau and ZMWG co- coordinator. 

“Over time, the Convention is expected to provide the necessary technical and financial resources to reduce the risk of exposure to mercury worldwide. Governments must therefore move swiftly towards efficient implementation of the Treaty’s provisions”.

The aim of the Convention is "to protect the human health and the environment” from mercury releases.

The treaty holds critical obligations for Parties to ban new primary mercury mines while phasing out existing ones and also includes a ban on many common products and processes using mercury, measures to control releases, and a requirement for national plans to reduce mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.  In addition, it seeks to reduce trade, promote sound storage of mercury and its disposal, address contaminated sites and reduce exposure from this dangerous neurotoxin.

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.

The Minamata Convention joins 3 other UN conventions seeking to reduce impacts from chemicals and waste – the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.


For more information, see:




Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Notes to the editors:

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero and small children. 

*The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project.  ZMWG strives for zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum.  Our mission is to advocate and support the adoption and implementation of a legally binding instrument which contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply and trade of mercury, the global demand for mercury, anthropogenic releases of mercury to the environment, and human and wildlife exposure to mercury.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe's largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our experts work on climate change, biodiversity, circular economy, air, water, soil, chemical pollution, as well as policies on industry, energy, agriculture, product design and waste prevention. We are also active on overarching issues as sustainable development, good governance, participatory democracy and the rule of law in Europe and beyond.

We have over 140 members in over 30 countries.

EC register for interest representatives: Identification number 06798511314-27
International non-profit association - Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL)

Home Our work at UNEP Level Other International Fora
Other International Fora PDF Print
Friday, 03 September 2010 17:17

With the objective to push towards a global instrument on mercury, other international fora (apart from UNEP) are also being followed.

The first meeting of the Convention of the Parties (COP1) for the POPs took place on 2-6 May 2005. Some of the NGO representatives (Toxics Link, ACPO, Arnika) active also on mercury are attending the meeting.

On 16-17 June 2005 the EEB, through its member VAK ( Latvia), attended the 2 nd meeting of the Task Force on Heavy Metals under the Convention for a Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution.

In view of the unbalanced agenda of the International Seafood and Health Conference 2005 : A close up look at the benefits of eating seafood, a letter was sent, to the sponsors of the event, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs and the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries. The letter was sent by the EEB and EEN on the 29 November 2005.

On the 9 January 2006, Pollution Probe (Canada), supported by the EEB, EPHA EN, HCWH and the International Ban Hg Working Group, sent a letter (and Annexes I, II, III) to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment , calling for the development and implementation of a mercury elimination and reduction strategy in Canada.

In February 2006, during the SAICM negotiations in Dubai, the Swiss government started discussing the possibility to organise a side event during the Intergovernmental Forum for Chemical Safety (IFCS) , Forum V, on heavy metals. After several email exchange and two teleconferences where the NGOs participated actively in the development of the final agenda. Finally in April, the agenda was finalised and the event was announced. The Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety, Forum V Side Event on Heavy Metals, Health and Environmental concerns associated with Heavy Metals; global needs for further action?, will take place on 23 September 2006, in Budapest, Hungary

On 11-12 May, our colleague from the Canadian NGO, attended the meeting of the Task Force on Heavy Metals under the Long Range Trounsboundary Air Pollution (UNECE), in Ottawa, Canada.

On the 8th June, Pollution Probe, Canada, sent a press release in the local press calling for a national (Canadian) strategy on mercury reduction.

An NGO lead conference “Finding Solutions to the Global Mercury Crisis”, August 7th-10th, 2006, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.was coorganised by more than 20 NGOs from the EU and the US.Please find here an initial note and the final agenda respectively.


The above mentioned meeting took place as an informal side event to the 8th International Conference Mercury as a Global Pollutant, Madison, WI, USA 6-11 August. The NGO meeting focused more on policy rather than scientific discussions on several issues such as mercury-cell chlor-alkali plants, coal fired power stations, mercury in small scale god-mining, etc.

A press release was published on the 4 August,2006 with the NGO expectations from the meeting.

Quite a few people participated actively to the meeting, including representatives from governments such as the US Environment Protection Agency, Environment Canada, Sweden, Philippines, as well as the European Commission. Many interesting discussions took place on the different issues and possibilities for future collaboration between governments as well as NGOs were given.

It has come to our attention that the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO) , have drafted an Action Plan Proposal on Mercury earlier this year. After NRDC's initiative and together with the Zero Mercury Working Group, comments have now been sent to this plan, on the 5 September 2006. Complementary comments were sent from our Brazilian partner NGO - ACPO on 14 September 2006.

On September 24-28,2006 EEB and other international NGOs of the Zero Mercury Working Group including our Indian, Brazilian, Chinese and S.African partners, participated actively at the Intergovernmental Forum for Chemical Safety (IFCS) Forum V.
On the 23 September, the Swiss government organised a side event on Health and Environmental Concerns associated with Heavy Metals; Global needs for further action? The NGOs participated actively at the side event mainly with respect to the global mercury policies. Oral interventions were made during the meeting and a written statement was also submitted to the organisers, which can be found here. This event was also covered by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin(ENB). The final report prepared by the Swiss organisers included among others the request for a globally binding instrument on mercury.

On the 25 September and as part of the Forum V discussions, Heavy Metals was on the agenda. The Swiss government presented the discussions and respective report from the side event. After that however, debate followed where the regions, individual countries and the NGOs provided their views. The African region called for globally binding instrument on mercury as well as the need for financial assistance to the developing countries to take action to reduce mercury demand and releases. Their statement can be found here. Norway, Switzerland and the EU also called for a binding instrument on mercury. The Asia Pacific region supported concrete actions on trade such as mercury export bans from the developed world and a financial mechanism to support global mercury use and releases reductions. The EEB on behalf of the Zero Mercury Working Group intervened as well addressing the issues above, with this statement. The US, Canada and Japan did not support a global binding instrument and expressed concerns on whether further action is needed. Considering the differences of opinions, the Chairman created a Contact Group which had as a mandate to agree on a document - outcome of this Forum V on Heavy Metals. Governments and stakeholders participated and expressed their views on the drafted text. The debate was tough and continued through the night during the 3 following days. At the end, the "Budapest Statement" was adopted calling among other for UNEP Governing council to continue the work on mercury, lead and cadmium considering a globally binding instrument among other actions. ENB covered the whole event including the contact group meetings with daily reports and pictures.

The FINAL REPORT of the -Fifth Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (Forum V)
25-29 September 2006, Budapest , is now available.

On March 8, 2007 and following the 8th International Conference Mercury as a Global Pollutant, Madison, WI, USA 6-11 August  the following NEWS ADVISORY was issued.


MADISON, Wis. (8 March 2007)-Mercury use and emissions pose a serious threat to the health of people, fish and wildlife around the world, according to a declaration by the world's leading mercury scientists published today in a special issue of the international science journal Ambio.  

"The Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution" stems from four expert panels assembled at the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant held last August in Madison, Wisconsin.  It presents 33 principal findings from five papers by panel members in the same issue of Ambio that summarize what is now scientifically known about the sources and movement of mercury in the atmosphere, the socioeconomic and health effects of mercury pollution on human populations, and its effects on the world's fisheries and wildlife.

The full text of the News Advisory can be found here.

The Madison declaration can be found here.