Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


For Immediate Release

GENEVA - June 22, 2011

Canada has just been given a Cancer Culprit award for sabotaging the Rotterdam Convention by obstructing the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance.
Of the 143 Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, only five opposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos when the issue came before the plenary session yesterday – Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Vietnam. A special contact group was therefore set up to try and resolve the crisis. The group was on the verge of achieving consensus to list chrysotile asbestos, with India and then the Ukraine having reversed their position and now supporting the consensus to list chrysotile asbestos.

At this critical point, on the verge of successful consensus, Canada suddenly announced that “CANADA IS NOT IN THE POSITION OF SUPPORTING THE LISTING OF CHRYSOTILE ASBESTOS IN ANNEX 3, IT IS UNABLE TO DO SO”, thus killing the emerging consensus.

Canada was the only country at the emergency group meeting today who spoke up and refused to accept the basic scientific fact that chrysotile asbestos is hazardous and that users should be informed of its dangers so as to be better able to protect their citizens.

When asked earlier this week whether Canada would support listing asbestos in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said “the question is moot”. While continuing to keep quiet on Canada’s stance, he pointed out that other countries were opposing the listing, and given the consensus procedure of the convention, this would block the listing anyways.

Madhu Dutta from India, who is a member of the ROCA delegation, noted that “all hell broke loose” after the announcement, as countries were shocked by the unscrupulous move.

Soon after, Canada was awarded with a ‘Cancer Culprit Award’ from, a website of environmental and social justice organisations around the world, identifying Canada as acting like a “rogue nation”.
Alexandra Caterbrow, a member of the ROCA (Rotterdam Alliance) delegation, which represents civil society at the conference, was shocked by Canada’s behavior. “These are shameful tactics” remarked Caterbrow. “It is general UN procedure to put your position on the table when the issue is on the agenda – that was yesterday morning. Only when we were about to reach consensus did Canada break its silence”.

Back in Canada, many have expressed their disbelief with the Harper government’s move.

Kathleen Ruff, a Senior Human Rights advisor with the Rideau Institute, exclaimed, “It is beyond belief that the Harper government not only wants to continue exporting asbestos but wants to do so irresponsibly and is refusing this basic right of prior informed consent.” The listing of asbestos does not restrict international trade, but provides controls to ensure that importers have given “prior informed consent” before asbestos is shipped into their country. Ruff continued to say “The government says it supports “controlled use” of asbestos, but in practice, it is the country that is doing the most to hinder any controls in the export of asbestos.”

The issue of listing chrysotile asbestos will come back to the plenary session tomorrow. “All eyes will be on Canada to see if the Canadian government has had a change of heart overnight,” said Ruff.

Read more about the UN vote:Rotterdam Convention by the Conference of the Parties’ Fifth Meeting (COP5).

Canada Cancer Culprit Award: Graphic
For more information, please contact:
Aneil Jaswal
British Columbia, Canada
Director, Cancer Culprit Awards

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