contaminated with methyl mercury wastes that had been discharged from a chemical factory into the sea. Another example was to be found at Love Canal, near Niagara Falls in the United States, where homes were built on a former hazardous waste dumpsite containing pesticides and chemicals used in making plastics. Rainwater percolating into the ground resulted in liquid waste that reached many of the homes and contaminated other environments in the area, allegedly causing seizures, learning disabilities and other ailments among residents and killing birds and other organisms in the area. 13. Among the results of the 1972 Stockholm Conference was that government representatives agreed to address a variety of environmental problems, including their undertaking to halt discharges of harmful substances into the environment. 14. In 1981, UNEP identified as one of the subjects of significance to global environmental protection the management and transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. By then, there had been several incidents of improper and illegal dumping of hazardous wastes within countries and at sea, and incidents of exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries where they were inappropriately disposed of, creating adverse environmental problems, were on the increase. 15. UNEP developed the Cairo Guidelines and Principles for the Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous Wastes (“1987 Cairo Guidelines”) addressed to governments with a view to assisting them in the process of developing national policies and measures for environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous
127 HAZARDOUS WASTES Chapter 11 wastes. When adopting the voluntary 1987 Cairo Guidelines, UNEP's Governing Council requested UNEP to prepare a global legal instrument to control transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal, because of increasing publicity and awareness of adverse impacts of uncontrolled movement of hazardous wastes, particularly to developing countries. UNEP prepared a draft convention and established a Working Group composed of legal and technical experts to carefully consider and revise the draft, which met five times and subsequently developed a final draft. Then, UNEP convened a meeting of governmental representatives to consider the draft and the proposal for a convention. The Basel Convention was adopted in 1989 and entered into force on 5 May 1992. Currently, it has 166 parties (as of November 2005). 16. The Basel Convention is the first and foremost global environmental agreement that strictly regulates the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes. The Convention creates binding obligations for its parties. Article 2 of the Convention defines wastes as “...substances or objects which are disposed of or are intended to be disposed of or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national law.“.
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