International Management of Hazardous Wastes: The Basel Convention and Related Legal Rules

By Katharina Kummer | Go to book overview

3
The Basel Convention as an Umbrella for Regional Hazardous Waste Treaties

Initially, the intention of the drafters of the Basel Convention was to elaborate a global 'framework treaty' on transboundary movements and management of hazardous wastes, which would regulate only the fundamental principles, and within which detailed regional agreements could be concluded. This approach is reflected in the following provision, contained in the early drafts of the Basel Convention:1 'The Contracting Parties are encouraged to enter into bilateral, multilateral and regional agreements with a view to implementing and further developing the provisions of this Convention.' This concept was abandoned at an early stage in favour of a high degree of detailed regulation at the global level, combined with a fairly restrictive approach towards regional treaties.2 As mentioned in Chapter 2 above, the Basel Convention, while setting uniform global standards, makes provision for the adoption of separate agreements or arrangements on transboundary movements of hazardous wastes under its umbrella. Article II of the Convention determines the conditions of adherence to such legal instruments by Basel parties, and the relationship between the Basel Convention and these agreements. Article 30 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties applies as a subsidiary rule.3 Chapter 20 of UNCED's Agenda 21 endorses the formulation of regional agreements on transboundary movements of hazardous wastes.4 A number of regional treaties that could come within the purview of Article II already exist, while others are in the process of elaboration.

The same concept underlies the 1992 UN/ECE Convention on the protection of international waterways, discussed in Chapter 5 below: in addition to providing uniform global standards, it calls on parties to adopt bilateral or regional agreements or arrangements, for which it gives detailed guidelines. These extend even to the institutional framework to be set up under regional systems.

____________________
1
Third Revised Draft Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes (UNEP/WG. 186/3), Annex A, p. 17.
2
See Report of the Working Group on its 3rd session ( UNEP/WG. 189/3), Annex I, draft Article XII; also the First Draft Convention (UNEP/WG.180/2), pp. 4, 9, 22; Report of the Working Group on its organizational meeting (UNEP/WG. 180/3), p. 4; Report on its 1st session ( UNEP/WG.182/3), p. 4.
3
See Sciso, ( 1986), p. 63; Sinclair, ( 1984), p. 97.
4
UNCED Agenda 21, ch. 20 para. 20.15. Cf. also Basel Convention Conference Doc. UNEP/CHW.1/7/Add.1 05 September 1992), p. 2.

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