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Diplomacy in Action

Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP)


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There are two international conventions to eventually eliminate these substances: the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants negotiated under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme and the 1998 Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP).

LRTPA POPs was negotiated under the auspices of the UN's Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The Executive Body of the UNECE adopted the Protocol which focuses on 16 POPs, including eleven pesticides, two industrial chemicals and three by-products/contaminants.

The Protocol includes a science-based process to add chemicals. In December 2005, the Executive Body agreed that two substances - perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), an industrial chemical, and pentabromodiphenyl ether (PeBDE), a flame retardant - met the criteria for POPs under the LRTAP Protocol. The technical body of the Convention, the POPs Task Force, is currently reviewing management strategies for these two substances.

Five additional substances are currently under the review of the technical body as to whether they meet the POPs criteria under the Protocol.

Although the U.S. has not ratified this particular Protocol, the OES participates in the technical Task Force meetings of POPs, as well as the two primary policy bodies of LRTAP: the Working Group on Strategies and Review (WGSR) and the Executive Body (EB).

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