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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 Towards a Mercury Treaty
UNEP GC 23, 18-25 February 2005, Nairobi, Kenya PDF Print
Friday, 10 September 2010 10:29

Mercury was on the agenda of the UNEP Governing Council (GC) planned for end February 2005. Activities include cooperation with NGOs all over the world ( EU, US, Developing countries) and input to UNEP towards that direction.

For better information and preparation for the meeting, EEB and Ban Hg WG represented by MPP, also had the chance to meet with Klaus Toepfer – UNEP Executive Director and Sylvie Motard – Head of the UNEP Liaison office in Brussels, on the 20-21 December 2004. (see also section 1)

In February 2005, NRDC, EEB, Greenpeace and the Ban Mercury Working Group with the support of the above mentioned NGOs, submitted to UNEP the Proposed Governing Council Decision Submitted by NGOs (also in FR), based upon a more extensive position paper which had been submitted to UNEP in July 2004.

A press release was sent to the European, US and African press on the 18 February 2005 , in view of the start of the UNEP Global Civil Society Forum and the UNEP Governing Council.

EEB, NRDC, Ban Mercury Working Group (MPP), Greenpeace, Toxics Link -India , Associação de Combate aos POPs - ACPO, groundWork, South Africa, Global Village of Beijing, China, and International Indian Treaty Council finally attended the 6th Global Civil Society Forum and the 23rd UNEP Governing Council in Nairobi, 18-25 February 2005. The report from the meetings and related interventions are available.

The 23rd UNEP Governing Council Decision on the Mercury Programme can be seen here.

A press release was also sent on the final decision of the UNEP Governing council on the 25 February 2005.

As a follow up to the 23rd UNEP Governing Council Decision, four meetings have taken place in relation to the Mercury partnerships. The Environmental NGOs attended those meetings. More relevant information and relevant documents can be found here.

In a letter to the world's governments that was also sent to the NGOs (MPP), on the 24 March 2006, the U.N. Environment Program is requesting information related to the supply, trade and demand for mercury for a report being developed for the upcoming UNEP Governing Council meeting in Nairobi next February. The request for the report came out of a decision that the UNEP Governing Council made at their prior meeting, which was put forth by Canada at the request of MPP. At that time, the UNEP Governing Council requested that UNEP Executive Director "..develop further the mercury programme...by initiating, preparing and making public a report summarizing supply, trade and demand information for mercury, including in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, and, based on a consideration of life-cycle approach, to submit a document forming a basis for consideration of possible further action in those areas for consideration of the Governing Council at its twenty-fourth session..."

Responding to the above call, on the 16 May 2006, NRDC have submitted comments to UNEP (and accompanying document), after collaboration with the Chemical Registration Center (CRC) of China’s State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) to develop improved estimates of China’s mercury supply and consumption.

On the 8th October 2006 the Zero Mercury Working Group submitted comments to UNEP on the draft Trade report.