The Rotterdam Convention is an international treaty that promotes shared responsibilities and mutual assistance among countries in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals to protect human health and the environment. It facilitates informed decision-making by countries concerning trade in hazardous chemicals. The convention was adopted and opened for signature at the Conference of Plenipotentiaries held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands on 10 September 1998 by UNEP and FAO and came into force on February 24, 2004. More than 150 countries have signed the convention.

The convention promotes an open exchange of information and advises the exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling, and information about any known restrictions or bans to the purchasers. Signatory nations can decide whether to allow or ban the importation of chemicals listed in the treaty and exporting countries are obliged to make sure that their producers are coming under their jurisdiction.

Scope of the Convention

This Convention applies to Banned or severely restricted chemicals and severely hazardous pesticide formulations.

This Convention does not apply to Narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, Radioactive materials, Wastes, Chemical weapons, Pharmaceuticals including human and veterinary drugs, and Chemicals used as food by an individual for his or her personal use in reasonable quantities.

Exchange of Information

The Convention requires Parties to exchange information for the import and export of the covered chemicals. It established two procedures,

(i) The Prior Informed Consent procedure for chemicals listed in Annex III to the Convention.

(ii) The Export Notification procedure for other banned and severely restricted chemicals not listed yet in Annex III.

Prior Informed Consent Procedure

The Rotterdam Convention establishes a Prior Informed Consent (“PIC”) procedure to make sure that the restricted hazardous chemicals are not exported to the countries that don’t want to receive them.

It consists of a mechanism for formally obtaining and widely spread the decisions of importing Parties as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of those chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention and for ensuring the acceptance of exporters to the decisions made by importers. The PIC procedure only applies to the export and import of chemicals listed in Annex III.

The convention requires two key stages,

(i) Import Responses.

(ii) Follow up on importing and exporting Party responsibilities.

(i) Import Responses

Chemicals becoming subject to the PIC procedure once they listed in Annex III. Parties are required to decide on their Designated National Authority (DNA) whether they will allow future import of each of the chemicals in Annex III or not. The decision may be interim or final and contain a refusal or consent with conditions. These decisions are known as Import responses. These responses are published by the Secretariat and made available to all Parties every six months through the PIC Circular. In this way, parties are informed before the export and import of hazardous chemicals.

Import decisions taken by parties must be trade neutral. If the Party decides not to accept imports of a specific chemical, it must also stop the domestic production of that chemical for domestic use and it must refuse imports from any source, including from countries that are not Party to the Convention.

(ii) Follow up on importing and exporting Party responsibilities

Importing Parties are expected to immediately inform their Import Response published in the PIC Circular to those concerned within their national jurisdiction, namely all relevant agencies that may be involved in the regulation, production and trade of chemicals in the country, e.g. government departments, manufacturers, export, industries, department of customs, etc.

Similarly, exporting Parties are to communicate Import Responses to those concerned in their jurisdiction and to take the necessary measures to ensure that exporters within their jurisdiction comply with these.

Export Notification procedure

The Export Notification procedure is for other banned and severely restricted chemicals that are not listed yet in Annex III.

The Designated National Authority of the exporting Party planning to export chemicals banned or severely restricted in its territory shall prior provide an Export Notification to the importing Party. It shall contain all the information requirements specified in Annex V of the Convention.

The Designated National Authority of the importing Party should acknowledge receipt of the export notification within 30 days. If it fails, the exporting Party shall submit a second notification.

Chemicals covered under Rotterdam Convention

Chemicals are subject to the PIC procedure if they are included in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention. As of now, there are a total of 52 chemicals listed in Annex III, 35 pesticides (including 3 severely hazardous pesticide formulations), 16 industrial chemicals, and 1 chemical in both the pesticide and the industrial chemical categories. Once a chemical is included in Annex III, a “decision guidance document” (DGD) containing information concerning the chemical and the regulatory decisions to ban or severely restrict the chemical for health or environmental reasons, is circulated to all Parties.

Please find the 52 chemicals that are listed in Annex III in the below link as on June 2020


As of 30 April 2020 there were 161 Parties to the Rotterdam Convention. This Convention is now governed by a secretariat located in Geneva referred to as the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm (BRS) secretariat under one head and continues to have its separate meetings back to back with other BRS Conventions

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