Mercury, its compounds and wastes thereof have settled on top of the world’s people’s agenda of discussion, following the poisoning incident that took place in Minamata, Japan, amidst the 20th century. It was for this reason, that the “Minimata Convention on Mercury” was drafted under the leadership and supervision of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), with a view to contribute to the ongoing efforts towards prevention of mercury related environmental pollution, at a global scale.
The Minamata Convention incorporates some control and reduction measures for products, processes and industries using, releasing or emitting mercury or wastes containing mercury thereof. Under the framework of this Convention, it shall be rendered mandatory for states, who have signed and/or become parties to the Convention, to ban the production, importation and exportation of and promptly and effectively dispose off wastes associated with certain goods containing mercury, bring up strategies for reducing quantities of mercury used and released and introduce and employ Best Available Technologies at premises to be newly opened within certain times to minimise emissions and releases originating from large industrial plants and reduce the emissions within a predetermined plan for existing facilities.
The Minamata Convention, which has not yet been entered into force in our country was signed by 128 states in addition to 12 states adopting it. This Convention was signed by Turkey on 24th of September 2014, during the “High Level Event” organised hosted by Japan, Switzerland, USA and Uruguay, within the auspices of the opening ceremonies of the general discussions at the 69th Plenary Meeting of the United Nations. In Turkey, Efforts have yet to be initiated for becoming a party to the aforementioned convention.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. It was agreed at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Geneva, Switzerland at 7 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, 19 January 2013.
The major highlights of the Minamata Convention on Mercury include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones, control measures on air emissions, and the international regulation of the informal sector for artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
The Convention draws attention to a global and ubiquitous metal that, while naturally occurring, has broad uses in everyday objects and is released to the atmosphere, soil and water from a variety of sources. Controlling the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle has been a key factor in shaping the obligations under the convention.