Regulating Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes: The Basel Convention and the Effectiveness of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure

Krueger, J. (1996). Regulating Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes: The Basel Convention and the Effectiveness of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-96-113

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One of the most contentious environmental issues recognized in the 1980s was the growth in uncontrolled transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, notably from rich, industrialized countries to developing countries that lack the administrative and technological resources to dispose of or recycle this waste safely. One response to this 'toxic trade' was the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. Its key regulatory provision is the mechanism of prior informed consent (PIC) which requires that Parties not export hazardous wastes to another Party unless the 'competent authority' in the state of import has been properly informed and has consented to the trade.

This paper assesses the effectiveness of PIC. It concludes, first, that the lack of adequate data regarding the functioning of PIC limits assessments of its effectiveness. This problem is best resolved by having the data on notifications and responses flow through the Secretariat of the Basel Convention so that PIC can be monitored. Presently, the Secretariat has no ability to do this.

Second, the most recent data show that waste trade proposals to non-OECD countries are increasing and rejection rates to those proposals are decreasing. Although the causes of these trends are difficult to specify, the increasing number of proposals is of concern because of the lack of administrative and financial resources in developing countries. The validity of their 'consent' is uncertain. The issue of hazardous waste trading is not only related to the functioning of PIC, but also to the capacity of the actors involved.

Third, current controversies within the Basel Convention reconsider many of the same fundamental questions that were present when PIC was chosen as the regulatory mechanism for the Convention. The debate over the effectiveness of a ban versus the effectiveness of PIC is a sideshow to the more fundamental questions about the desirability of the trade in hazardous wastes. If this trade is desired, then a functionally complex procedure such as PIC is probably necessary. However, the ability to monitor PIC must be improved.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: International Environmental Commitments (IEC)
Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:07
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:15

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