What is the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade?

The Rotterdam Convention is an international treaty designed to facilitate informed decision-making by countries with regard to trade in hazardous chemicals. It establishes a list of covered chemicals and requires parties seeking to export a chemical on that list to first establish that the intended importing country has consented to the import. It also requires that a party seeking to export a chemical that is not listed under the Convention, but is subject to a ban or severe restriction in its own territory, must provide notice to the importing country of the proposed export. The Convention entered into force on February 24, 2004.

How Does the Prior Informed Consent Procedure Work?

The Rotterdam Convention establishes a prior informed consent (“PIC”) procedure to ensure that restricted hazardous chemicals are not exported to countries that do not wish to receive them. The PIC procedure does not ban or restrict any chemicals, nor does it mean that any individual country must automatically prohibit their import. Parties implement the PIC procedure through extensive information exchange, priority attention to national decisions on imports, and obligations related to export controls.

What Chemicals Are Covered Under the Rotterdam Convention?

The Rotterdam Convention applies to industrial chemicals and pesticides that meet the criteria for listing under the Convention, generally because they have been banned or severely restricted in party countries or are severely hazardous pesticide formulations. Chemicals are subject to the PIC procedure if they are included in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention. A current list can be found at this link: http://www.pic.int/TheConvention/Chemicals/AnnexIIIChemicals/tabid/1132/language/en-US/Default.aspx.

How does the United States engage?

The United States signed the Rotterdam Convention in 1998, but has yet to ratify because we currently lack the authority to implement all of its provisions. The United States participates as an observer in the meetings of the parties and in technical working groups.