The Basel Convention

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted on 22 March 1989 by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Basel, Switzerland. It was a response to a public outcry following the discovery of toxic wastes in the developing world caused by deposits imported from abroad.

The Convention has three principal aims:

  • Reduce hazardous waste generation and the promotion of environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes, wherever the place of disposal;
  • Restrict transboundary movements of hazardous wastes except where it is perceived to be in accordance with the principles of environmentally sound management;
  • Apply a regulatory system cases where transboundary movements are permissible.

The second aim is achieved through prohibitions: hazardous wastes may not be exported to Antarctica, to a State not party to the Basel Convention, or to a party having banned the import of hazardous wastes. Parties may, however, enter into bilateral or multilateral agreements on hazardous waste management with other parties or with non-parties, provided that such agreements are “no less environmentally sound” than the Basel Convention.

In 1981, the Council of Economic Communities issued a Council Decision (81/462/EEC) to approve the Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution, which had been signed by the European Economic Community on 14 November 1979.

In 1993, the Council of Economic Communities issued a Council Decision (93/98/EEC) to approve Basel Convention, which had been signed by the European Economic Community on 21 March 1989.