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Rotterdam Convention. Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure

Actualizado: 24 mar 2020

The  huge growth in chemical production and trade during last years raised concerns about the risks posed by hazardous chemicals and pesticides. Based on this concern the Rotterdam Convention was agreed. The Rotterdam Convention was adopted on 10 September 1998 entering into force on 24 February 2004.

The main objectives of the Convention are:

1. To promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm.

2. To contribute to protect the environment from hazardous chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export.

The Convention creates legally binding obligations for the implementation of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC). This PIC procedure was built from  the voluntary PIC procedure, initiated by UNEP and FAO in 1989 and finalized on 2006.

The Convention covers pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons; in total 47 substances from which 33 are pesticides fall under the Rotterdam Convection (Annex III on the Convention).

To achieve its objectives the Convention includes two key provisions,  the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure and the Information Exchange Procedure:

  1. The PIC procedure is a mechanism for formally obtaining and sharing the decisions from importing Parties as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention and for ensuring compliance with the decisions from  exporting Parties.

  2. The Convention facilitates as well the  information exchange among Parties for hazardous chemicals.

The import responses are the decisions from the Parties of the Rotterdam Convention indicating whether they will accept or not imports of  the chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention and subject therefore to the PIC procedure.

All the import responses submitted by Parties are published each June and December in the PIC Circular and are available in the database of import responses at the website of the Rotterdam Convention.

What is the role to be played by Customs Authorities in the framework of the Rotterdam Convention?

Customs authorities play a key role in the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention and in protecting their countries from unwanted trade of hazardous chemicals. Governments will be able to enforce national decisions on the import/export of hazardous chemicals if effective coordination with their customs authorities takes place. Parties to the Convention are required to make import decisions on 47 hazardous chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention.

Designated National Authorities (DNAs) for the Rotterdam Convention distribute the decisions to customs authorities as well as to all national stakeholders (e.g. the industry sector) involved in the international trade of chemicals. Good cooperation and coordination between customs authorities and DNAs are essential for the effective implementation of the Convention.

DNAs serve as the focal points  as well in their respective countries for submitting import responses and for disseminating information on the PIC procedure to the relevant government departments and exporting and importing industries, among others. Ideally, DNAs should keep customs officers up-to-date on any changes that might affect their work. A list of DNAs can be found on the Convention’s website.

When exporting chemicals, customs authorities should be informed by their DNA(s) of the import responses from other countries relevant to Annex III chemicals on any updates to the list of chemicals in Annex III  and, when importing, on the chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted at national level.


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