November 26, 2018
From November 19 (Mon.) to 23 (Fri.), 2018, the Second Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP2) was held in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting brought together approximately 900 stakeholders from over 140 countries and regions.
At COP2, working-level officials held discussions on detailed rules of procedure for the Minamata Convention, organizational structure and other organizational arrangements of the secretariat, and technical matters. In addition, it made some progress, such as adoption of the Guidelines on the Environmentally Sound Interim Storage of Mercury other than Waste Mercury.
1. Organizational arrangements of the secretariat
The Conference officially determined two organizational details concerning arrangements of the secretariat: 1) locating the secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland; and 2) operating the secretariat as an independent organization in cooperation and coordination with the secretariat of the three other conventions for wastes and chemicals, i.e., the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), and other entities.
The Conference agreed on advancement of review of the financial mechanism concerning the Minamata Convention, i.e., the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund and the Specific International Programme (SIP) to Support Capacity-building and Technical Assistance in accordance with the provisions of the Minamata Convention. With regard to the SIP, the secretariat provided a briefing on completed preparation of the rules of procedures and the guidance for project examination and on the adoption of the first project.
Concerning the budget for the secretariat, the Conference decided on the appropriation of the 2018 carryover budget for the shortfall in light of the estimated expenditures in 2019. Moreover, concerning the annual contributions for each party, the parties decided on reallocation of the contributions among the parties that accede to the Minamata Convention as of the beginning of 2019.
2. Technical matters
(1) Guidelines on the environmentally sound interim storage of mercury other than waste mercury
The draft guidelines, which have been discussed by the nominated experts since the convening of COP1, were submitted to COP2. The parties reflected their respective opinions in the draft guidelines and adopted it.
(2) Mercury waste thresholds
The parties held discussions on defining target scopes of mercury waste under the Minamata Convention and decided that they will setup an expert meeting after COP2 and advance related tasks in preparation for the convening of COP3.
(3) Effectiveness evaluation of the Minamata Convention
The parties held discussions on the criteria for evaluation that is a requirement under the framework for evaluation included in the Minamata Convention. An expert committee established at COP1 submitted a report on the issue to COP2 and the parties decided that they will continue to advance related tasks in preparation for the convening of COP3.
(4) Guidance on the management of contaminated sites
The parties held discussions on the draft guidance which is an outcome of the efforts by the secretariat of the Minamata Convention in collaboration with experts, and they decided that the secretariat will collect additional information, undertake a new call for opinions from experts and continue to advance tasks aiming at the adoption of the guidance at COP3.
(5) Guidance in relation to mercury releases
Concerning the identification of sources of mercury released into water and soil and the listing of sources, the parties decided that they will establish an expert group to begin related work.
3. Other issues
- Concerning the trade of mercury-added products, some parties proposed that such products should be identifiable by the Harmonized System (HS) codes, a system stipulated by the World Customs Organization (WCO). As a result of discussions, the parties decided that the secretariat of the Minamata Convention will hold discussions with the WCO, prepare a recommendation report on the improvement of the HS code system, call opinions on the report from the respective parties and related organizations and submit the final report to COP3.
- The parties confirmed the provisions under Article 4 (8) of the Minamata Convention concerning the revision of Annex A (mercury-added products) and Annex B (manufacturing processes in which mercury or mercury compounds are used), stipulating the review of the Annexes in no later than five years after the date of entry into force of the Minamata Convention. Some proposed an approach to discussing procedures for review efforts, but the majority of the parties stated that such review is premature as the Convention has only been enforced for slightly longer than one year.
4. Future schedule
COP3 will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2019.
1. Meeting materials and other documents at COP2The meeting materials and other documents at COP2 are accessible from the following website:
2. The Minamata Convention on Mercury
- The Minamata Convention on Mercury aims to protect human health and the natural environment on a global basis from artificially emitted or released mercury and its compounds, comprehensively controlling the entire life-cycle of mercury consisting of mining, trading, use, emission, release, disposal and other processes. On October 10, 2013, the parties adopted the Convention at a conference of plenipotentiaries held in Kumamoto City. The Convention entered into force on August 16, 2017. The number of the parties as of the enforcement date was 52, came to 95 as of the convening of COP2 and as of that date, the number of countries that ratified the convention came to 101.
- On May 22, 2015, Japan approved the conclusion of the Convention at the 189th ordinary session of the Diet. During the same ordinary session, it also approved the Mercury Pollution Prevention Act and the Act of Partial Revision of the Air Pollution Control Act, which are the laws necessary for the enforcement of the Convention, and established them. On February 2, 2016, Japan deposited its instrument of acceptance with the UN Secretary General, which made Japan the 23rd party that has concluded the Convention.
3. Other references
- Website of the UN Environment Programme for the Minamata Convention on Mercury
- List of the participants in the Minamata Convention (see the column titled “Approval (AA), Acceptance(A), Accession(a), Ratification” showing countries’ ratification dates; please note that these countries will become parties 90 days after the ratification date.)
- METI website for the Minamata Convention (in Japanese)
- METI website for the domestic laws such as the Mercury Pollution Prevention Act (in Japanese)
Division in Charge
Chemical Management Policy Division, Manufacturing Industries Bureau