Urgent appeal with regard to Chrysotile Asbestos, a hazardous substance
Ms Dilma Vana Rousseff
Dear Presidenta Rousseff:
Greetings from New Delhi!
We are writing to you with regard to the 6th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (COP6), which is taking place in Geneva from April 28 to May 10, 2013 where decision with regard to the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance is to be taken. This has been recommended by UN's Chemical Review Committee.
We are hopeful that Brazil will express its support for the recommendation to list chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance.
We wish to request you to persuade members of BRICS like Russia to support the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in the UN list of hazardous substances.
We submit that on May 7, 2013 the recommendation to add chrysotile asbestos to the Convention’s list of hazardous substances (Annex III) will, for the fourth time, be put before the delegates from the 170 nations attending the Conference.
We submit that the recommendation to list chrysotile asbestos was made by the Convention’s expert scientific body (the Chemical Review Committee) after careful examination of the scientific evidence. The Chemical Review Committee is composed of 31 scientists from around the world, including Dr. Gilberto Fillmann, who was nominated by the government of Brazil.
We submit that the Rotterdam Convention does not forbid trade in hazardous substances; it simply requires responsible trade. The Convention provides the right of Prior Informed Consent.
It may be recollected that at the three previous Conferences of the Rotterdam Convention in 2006, 2008 and 2011, when a tiny number of countries opposed the recommendation to list chrysotile asbestos, the Brazilian delegation stayed silent. It is well known that all the social ministries of your government support the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos in the Convention’s list of hazardous substances and have publicly expressed this position.
We believe that your government wishes Brazil to be recognized in the world as a country that supports responsible trade and a country that supports the basic human right of Prior Informed Consent. We are therefore writing to you to appeal that, at COP6, Brazil express its support for the recommendation to list chrysotile asbestos.
Of the one million tons of asbestos exported in the world in 2011, Russia and Brazil exported 88% of the total amount. It is clearly of critical importance that the key asbestos exporting countries – Russia and Brazil - support responsible trade and support the recommendation to list chrysotile asbestos.
We are aware that some Brazilian states like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco and Mato Grosso have banned asbestos. In India, we urging our government to follow the example of these states.
We are appalled that Russia, a member of BRICS has indicated that it will oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos at the Geneva conference. It will bring great shame on Brazil in the eyes of the world if Brazil stays silent and through its silence demonstrates complicity in this irresponsible action to oppose the listing. Such silence would be loudly condemned by other countries and by civil society organisations around the world that advocate for health, social justice and the environment.
We take the opportunity to inform that South Africa, a member of BRICS has prohibited the use, manufacture and processing of asbestos since March 2008.
We submit that India, another member of BRICS is officially considering to ban chrysotile asbestos given the fact that India's National Human Rights Commission is quite concerned about the ramifications of the use of Chrysotile Asbestos.
We urgently appeal to you to ensure that, at COP6, Brazil express its support for the listing of chrysotile asbestos, thus earning respect in the eyes of the world as a country which supports responsible trade and respects the basic right of Prior Informed Consent.
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, President of South Africa
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