Specific exemptions under Article 4 of the Convention have a limited timeframe and expire five years after the date of entry into force of the Convention with respect to that particular chemical. There were various discussions at the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties about how this provision is interpreted and applied. For this reason, the Conference of the Parties decided to collect more information from Parties and consider further at its eighth meeting (24 April - 5 May 2017).
When the Convention entered into force in 2004, with twelve persistent organic pollutants (POPs) listed in its Annexes, the specific exemption provision in Article 4 did not raise any questions. Subsequently, in 2009, the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties cancelled all specific exemptions in the Register for the POPs listed in Annexes A and B to the Convention at the time of its adoption. With the exception of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), all specific exemptions listed in Annex A and Annex B to the Convention at that time became unavailable to Parties after 17 May 2009.
At the meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015, amendments listing new POPs in the Annexes to the Conventions were adopted, with further specific exemptions available for the new POPs. Further information is available on the amendments to the Annexes to the Convention as well as on the status of ratifications.
With different dates of entry into force of the amendments listing new POPs, questions arose amongst Parties as to the application and interpretation of Article 4. This was apparent during discussions at the seventh meeting of the COP in 2015, in the context of the amendments adopted in 2009 (Decision SC-4/17) listing lindane and PFOS, its salts and PFOSF. These amendments entered into force for most Parties in 2010, one year after the depositary notification. Registrations of specific exemptions for those Parties expired on 26 August 2015, in accordance with Article 4.
As expiry of specific exemptions impacts on the elimination of the POPs, it is important to determine in a consistent manner how Article 4 is interpreted and applied by Parties. For this reason, the seventh meeting of the COP invited Parties to transmit to the Secretariat information related to the interpretation and application of Article 4 of the Stockholm Convention. This information was to be transmitted no later than eight months before the eighth meeting of the COP. The Secretariat was requested to compile and make this information available on the website no later than six months before the eighth meeting of the COP (Decision SC-7/5 paragraphs 11 and 12).
Communications from the Secretariat were circulated to Parties on 17 August 2016 and 11 April 2016. Information received from Parties following the invitation from the COP and related communications from the Secretariat is available below.