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Environmental negotiation and policy: the Basel Convention on transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal

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The Basel Convention was the outcome of negotiations between two primary groups: the industrialized Western countries who stood to benefit from hazardous waste exports and who already had regulations to control waste exports, and the developing countries, who believed they lacked the institutional ability to control such trade on their own terms. It was in this polarized atmosphere that representatives of 116 countries met in late March 1989 to conclude negotiations on the transboundary movements of hazardous waste. The conference was convened and administered by UNEP. In intense negotiations the assembled national delegations were able to reach general agreement on a number of issues that had proved contentious, and on March 22, 1989 voted to accept the document that became known as the 'Basel Convention.' The Final Act of the Conference was signed by 104 States and the EEC; the Convention itself was signed by 35 States. By the beginning of 1991, the convention had been ratified by Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Switzerland and France; it will become binding upon ratification by 20 States. This paper provides stakeholder analysis and discusses the issues of representation and voting, science and politics, monitoring and enforcement, and linkage. It also outlines some prescriptive advice.

Keywords: hazardous waste, Berne Convention, waste disposal, environmental pollution, public health, waste imports, waste exports, transboundary movement

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