Pro-Asbestos Lobbyists at UN Conference1
The 155-page List of participants to the meetings of the United Nations Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions 2019 uploaded on July 12, 2019 makes interesting reading.2 An examination of the details provided about attendees at the UN sessions that took place between April 29-May 10, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland revealed the names of twelve asbestos lobbyists and others working for organizations known to be involved in protecting sales of chrysotile (white) asbestos.3 They included (from):
Mr. Josep Monrabà
Executive Officer, International Chrysotile Association (ICA)
Mr. Yin Soeum
Advisor, International Chrysotile Association (ICA)
Mr. Dhirup Roy Choudhary
Vice Chairman, Fibre Cement Products Manufacturers' Association (FCPMA)
New Delhi, India
Mr. Vivekanand Gaddam
Chairman, Fibre Cement Products Manufacturers' Association (FCPMA)
New Delhi, India
Mr. Vivek Chandra Rao Sripalle
Advisor, Chrysotile - Environmental Health and Safety
Fibre Cement Products Manufacturers' Association (FCPMA)
New Delhi, India
Mr. Dauren Munkebayev
Advisor, Confederation of Employers of Kazakhstan
Mr. Vladimir Galitcyn
Executive Director of the Chrysotile Association NGO
Ms. Iana Ponomareva
Adviser for Environmental Affairs, Department of Environmental Protection of the
International Alliance of Trade Union Organizations Chrysotile
Mr. Dmitrii Selianin
Adviser for International Affairs, International Alliance of Trade-Unions Organizations Chrysotile
Asbest City, Russia
Mr. Evgeny Kovalevskiy [sic]4
Department of Hygienic Regulation, Izmerov Research Institute of Occupational Health
Ms. Thi Thu Hang Bui
Secretary, Secretariat, Vietnam National Roof Sheet Association
Hanoi, Viet Nam
Mr. Tai Minh Nguyen
Assistant to Secretary, Secretariat, Vietnam National Roof Sheet Association
Hanoi, Viet Nam
As multiple attempts to include chrysotile asbestos on the Rotterdam Conventions list of hazardous products the international trade in which is subject to a modicum of regulation have failed, one might wonder why asbestos vested interests thought that a 12-strong delegation to this years conference was warranted.5 To understand the enduring and incalculable value of blocking the categorization of chrysotile as hazardous under the Convention one need look no further than an article in The Sunday Times (Scotland) on July 14, 2019.6 In response to queries posed by Journalist Carlos Alba about the involvement of Scottish-registered company CJ Petrow International Ltd. with the activities of another Petrow family business registered in South Africa: CJ Petrow & Co (Pty) Ltd. which in 2015 shipped 65,324 tons of asbestos worth $38.7 to India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Mexico, a solicitor working for the Scottish company replied:
The Rotterdam convention defines products which are considered hazardous. Chrysotile is not referred to as a hazardous raw material in this treaty. The latest Rotterdam convention meeting was held in May this year and chrysotile is not included in the list of hazardous products
Based on the text above, one can well imagine conversations in which asbestos salesmen maximize the value of the Rotterdam Conventions failures to include chrysotile on Annex III to substantiate the industrys mantra about the safe use of asbestos. In 2019, the prior informed consent regime that the Convention was intended to facilitate remains a pipe dream and human lives remain at risk from unscrupulous businessmen who peddle their toxic wares in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.
July 25, 2019
1 For more information on the UNís Rotterdam Convention see: http://www.pic.int/Countries/Statusofratifications/tabid/1072/language/en-US/Default.aspx
2 In relation to the Ninth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention see: List of participants to the meetings of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions or, alternatively, go to:
Then select file: UNEP/FAO/RC/COP.9/INF/51: List of participants to the meetings of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (joint document).
3 The registered attendees on the list were grouped into three categories: parties (countries) to at least one of the conventions that submitted valid credentials; parties to at least one of the conventions that did not submit valid credentials; and observers such as non-party states, UN and its specialized agencies, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). According to procedures, only representatives of Member States were allowed to speak or vote however, observers, if recognized by the chairperson, were permitted on occasion to address plenary sessions or other sessions. Representatives of Indias Fiber Cement Product Manufacturers Association, Russias International Alliance of Trade Union Organizations Chrysotile and Kazakhstans Confederation of Employers voiced their opposition to listing chrysotile during the plenary debate on May 8, 2019.
4 Mr. Evgeny Kovalevskiy was the only one of the names listed above who was registered as part of an official delegation.
5 George, O. Kazan-Allen, L. The Rotterdam Convention 2019. May 8 & 10, 2019.
6 Alba, C. Revealed: the Scottish links to asbestos trade. July 14, 2019.