Inclusion of pro-asbestos group in Rotterdam Convention COP condemned

Different networks and campaign groups working for the ban of asbestos at workplaces, including the Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI), expressed their extreme disappointment with the secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention for allowing a pro-asbestos lobby group to participate as an observer in the Convention’s Conference of Parties (COP) held this year. 

In a letter dated 30 May, the groups said that the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) is obviously a group with the vested commercial interest of preventing the Convention from achieving its objective of promoting the shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals. 

The different anti-asbestos organisations said that the ICA was even allowed to hold a side event that promoted the alleged contributions of chrysotile asbestos. They said that the inclusion of the ICA’s side event on the official Convention program was an “outrage.”

“BWI joins the public outrage and shares the disappointment of many over the Convention secretariat’s decision to allow the ICA to participate in the COP 2022 in Geneva as an observer and even hold a pro-asbestos side event. The ICA’s assertion that the use of a class 1 carcinogen to promote the sustainable development goals is farcical and undermines the very core of the interlinked global goals for a sustainable future,” BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said. 

 “We affirm our commitment to our allies and partner trade unions and civil society organisations to rescue the Rotterdam Convention from being highjacked by asbestos lobbyists, ensuring that it will fully realise its mandate,” Yuson added.