Mercury International Agreement

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Mercury International Agreement

Key strengths of the Minamata Convention include banning new mercury mines, abandoning existing mercury mines, phasing out and phasing out mercury in a number of products and processes, controlling air emissions and land and water releases, and regulating the informal sector of artisanal and small gold mines. The convention also addresses temporary mercury storage and disposal as soon as it becomes waste, mercury-contaminated sites and health issues. Mercury is a natural element. It can be released into the environment from natural sources such as weathered rocks containing mercury, forest fires, volcanic eruptions or geothermal activities, but also from human activities. It is estimated that 5500 to 8900 tonnes of mercury are currently emitted each year and re-injected into the atmosphere, with most of the reintroduced mercury being considered to be related to human activity, as well as direct releases. The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an international treaty to protect people and the environment from mercury pollution. It was named after a city in Japan where residents were poisoned in the mid-20th century by the release of mercury into wastewater from a chemical plant. According to human rights organization Human Rights Watch, “The convention requires governments to reduce the consumption of mercury in artisanal and small gold mines, the world`s largest source of mercury pollution. In addition, governments must end particularly harmful practices such as incineration of a gold amalgam of mercury in residential areas and protect children from exposure. (Juliane Kippenberg, Ghana Ratifies Mercury Convention, Human Rights Watch website (March 29, 2017).) In 2009, governments around the world agreed to open negotiations on a legally binding global mercury treaty for an upgrade within four years, given the current impact and continuing threat posed by mercury contamination.

In January 2013, the fifth and final meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INCI5) for the preparation of the treaty was held in Geneva and reached agreement on the text of the new treaty. The chemical properties of mercury make it popular for many applications. It is the only common metal that is liquid at normal temperature, it has a high density and has merged easily with many metals, such as gold, silver and tin. In 2003, the Governing Council reviewed this assessment and found that there was sufficient evidence to show that mercury and its compounds significantly harm globally to justify new international measures to reduce risks to human health and the environment due to their release into the environment. Governments have been asked to adopt targets for reducing mercury emissions and emissions, and the UN-Environment has launched technical assistance and capacity-building measures to achieve these goals.