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History of the Rotterdam Convention

Two UN organisations started developing and promoting voluntary information-exchange programmes on dangerous chemicals and pesticides in the mid 1980's. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched its 'International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides' in 1985and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) set up the 'London Guidelines for the Exchange of Information on Chemicals in International Trade' in 1987. In 1989, the two organisations jointly introduced the voluntary Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure into these two instruments. This way, governments got the necessary information enabling them to assess the risks of hazardous chemicals and to take informed decisions on their future import.

In 1992 the Rio Earth Summit adopted Chapter 19 of Agenda 21, calling for a legally binding instrument on the PIC procedure by the year 2000. So talks between FAO and UNEP started in 1996 and finally lead in March 1998 to the finalisation of the text of the Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. The Convention was adopted and opened for signature at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Rotterdam on 10 September 1998 and entered into force on 24 February 2004 (see also www.pic.int).