History of the negotiations of the Stockholm Convention

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants was adopted on 22 May 2001 and entered into force on 17 May 2004.

Being aware that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) pose major and increasing threats to human health and the environment, in May 1995 the Governing Council of UNEP requested in its decision 18/32 that an international assessment process be undertaken of an initial list of 12 POPs and that the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) develop recommendations on international action for consideration by UNEP Governing Council and World Health Assembly no later than 1997.

In June 1996, IFCS concluded that available information was sufficient to demonstrate that international action, including a global legally binding instrument, was required to minimize the risks from the 12 POPs through measures to reduce and/or eliminate their emissions or discharges.

In February 1997, the UNEP Governing Council in its decision 19/13C invited UNEP to prepare for and convene intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC), with a mandate to prepare an international legally binding instrument for implementing international action initially beginning with the 12 POPs and requested that the INC establish an expert group to develop criteria and a procedure for identifying additional POPs as candidates for future international action.

The first meeting of the INC to develop an internationally legally binding instrument for implementing international action on POPs was held in June 1998 in Montreal, Canada, at which the Criteria Expert Group (CEG) requested above was established. Subsequent meetings of the INC were held in Nairobi, Kenya, in January 1999, in Geneva, Switzerland, in September 1999, in Bonn, Germany, in March 2000, and in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December 2000 where the negotiations were successfully completed.

The CEG completed its mandate in two meetings: the first in Bangkok, Thailand, in October 1998 and, the second, in Vienna, Austria, in June 1999.

The Convention was adopted and opened for signature at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries held from 22 to 23 May 2001 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Conference of the Plenipotentiaries also adopted a number of resolutions that were included in the appendix to the Final Act, such as on interim arrangements; on the Secretariat (e.g. inviting UNEP to convene further sessions of the INC during the interim period); and on liability and redress. On this latter issue, a workshop on liability and redress was held on 19-21 September 2002 in Vienna, Austria.

The Convention entered into force on 17 May 2004, ninety days after submission of the fiftieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession in respect of the Convention.

Consult the documents of the above-mentioned meetings.