Year Round-Up 2023 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



During 2023 there have spectacular highs and lows intermixed with pockets of progress set against a global backdrop which has constrained the work of grassroots ban asbestos campaigners in many countries. Our partners at the Asia Monitor Resource Centre were forced to leave their base in Hong Kong and set up in Korea after threats from the Chinese state-owned media. Colleagues at Indian grassroots groups, including the not-for-profit Environics Trust, reported police harassment, freezing of bank accounts and blocking of foreign donations. Even in Ukraine – whose asbestos ban came into force on October 1, 20231– vested interests, backed by Kazakh and Russian asbestos stakeholders, continued their assault on asbestos prohibitions.2

Despite these obstacles, campaigners have found creative ways to build momentum for asbestos restrictions and support the injured. They have done so through conscientious and sustained work with local groups who have identified at-risk cohorts such as: members of ethnic populations living in mountainous regions of Vietnam where asbestos roofing remains a popular product; asbestos factory workers and local communities living in close proximity to asbestos-using facilities in Indonesia; marginalized communities living near a derelict, unrehabilitated asbestos mine in Bom Jesus da Serra, Brazil.

High points of the year included:

  • the announcement that Cambodia would ban asbestos;3


Members of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union in Cambodia campaigning against asbestos. Photo: BWTUC/Facebook.

  • the coming into force on April 1, 2023 of regulations which expanded the obligations of Japanese companies to protect not only employees but also self-employed workers who might experience toxic exposures at the workplace;4


Protest by Japan Asbestos Victims in Tokyo. June 7, 2022. Photograph courtesy of JOSHRC.

  • the implementation in Brazil of a ground-breaking legal and medical initiative to support asbestos-exposed workers and members of the public; 5
  • the inauguration of an international award recognizing the work of campaigners pioneering support initiatives for asbestos victims; the 2023 recipient was Brazilian medical specialist Dr. Ubiratan de Paula Santos from São Paulo’s Heart Institute;6


  • the introduction of tighter restrictions by the EU to protect workers from asbestos exposures;7
  • the first in-person Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN) event since the Covid pandemic took place in Bangkok, Thailand;8


Group photo taken at ABAN Conference on May 7, 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo courtesy of ABAN.

  • the initiation of the IBAS Devil’s Dust Award in Australia with a presentation at the AGM of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia of this award to James Hardie, Australia’s former asbestos giant;
  • collaboration with journalists and campaigners calling for the implementation of national asbestos bans and action on asbestos hidden within the built environment;9
  • ongoing work to highlight the inherent racism in Johnson & Johnson’s marketing policy for its talc-based baby powder;10
  • negotiations and actions to overcome the blockage by vested interests of a proposal by the UN’s Rotterdam Convention to categorize chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance and protect importing countries from toxic exposures;11


Demonstration outside UN meeting of Rotterdam Convention members, Geneva, Switzerland. May 9, 2023. Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth.

  • the coming into force of legislation banning the use of all types of asbestos in Ukraine12
  • mobilization by Brazilian asbestos victims and supporters calling for the Supreme Court to issue a long-awaited verdict setting a date for the shutdown of asbestos mining and processing;13


November 27, 2023. ABREA demonstration outside the Supreme Court. Photo courtesy of ABREA.

  • a landmark legal victory exposing the culpability of the Belgian Eternit company and its’ liability for asbestos personal injury claims.14

The good news detailed above was accompanied by some not so good news. Although there had been some speculation that the Brazilian Navy might take preemptive action to wash its hands of the asbestos-laden São Paulo aircraft carrier – a vessel at the center of an international scandal15 – no one had expected to hear on February 3, 2023 that the ship had been deliberately sunk.16 Despite intensive work over the last two years to find a protocol which might improve the functionality of the Rotterdam Convention, the outcome this year was the same as it had been previously when asbestos vested interests – led by Russia and Kazakhstan – vetoed efforts to list chrysotile as a hazardous substance. It was a very close vote, much closer than some of us had thought possible given the political situation.17


Mavis Nye at the July 3, 2013 meeting of the Asbestos Sub-Group, House of Commons.

Late last month (November 2023), the news was circulated of the death of Mavis Nye, erstwhile Mesothelioma Warrior, who had survived 14 years post-diagnosis to become a much-loved figure amongst the global community of ban asbestos campaigners.18 The loss felt by so many of us at her passing is a reminder of how vital the work to eradicate the asbestos hazard is. She will not be forgotten.

December 13, 2023


1 Kazan-Allen, L. It’s Official: Asbestos Use Banned in Ukraine. October 25, 2023.

2 For more information on developments in 2023, please see the following online resources:
IBAS article abstracts:
IBAS news items:
IBAS blogs:

3 Kazan-Allen, L. Cambodia Asbestos Ban by 2025. November 7, 2023.
Kazan-Allen, L. Another Asbestos Ban in Asia! June 20, 2023.
Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. Cambodia to stop using asbestos from 2025 to improve workers’ welfare. June 8, 2023.
‘5 day training brings asbestos hazard awareness and consensus on the need for a ban on asbestos in Cambodia as soon as possible among participants’. July 14, 2017.

4 Kazan-Allen, L. Japan: Victims’ Campaign for Asbestos Justice. March 1, 2023.

5 Kazan-Allen, L. Saturday in São Caetano do Sul. August 8, 2023.

6 Kazan-Allen, L. Inaugural Award for Outstanding Service to Asbestos Victims! July 31, 2023.

7 Kazan-Allen, L. Europe Advancing Asbestos Protections. July 4, 2023.
Kazan-Allen, L. The European Asbestos Seminar. October 10, 2001.

8 Kazan-Allen, L. A Tale of Two Cities 2023! May 18, 2023.

9 Kazan-Allen, L. Britain’s Summer of Asbestos Dissent. July 20, 2023.

10 Kazan-Allen, L. From Consumer Icon to Grim Reaper: The Sorry Tale of J&J Baby Powder. July 27, 2023.

11 Open Lettter. Call for all Parties to support the proposed amendment to create a new Annex VIII, a simple solution to a complex problem. April 2023.
Kazan-Allen, L. UN Convention Defiled. May 15, 2023.

12Kazan-Allen, L. It’s Official: Asbestos Use Banned in Ukraine. October 25, 2023.

13 Kazan-Allen, L. Taking the Ban Asbestos Fight to Brasilia. December 5, 2023.
Press release. Asbestos Victims Worldwide Call for Action by Brazil’s Supreme Court. November 26, 2023.

14 Kazan-Allen, L. Historic Victory for Belgian Asbestos Victims. December 7, 2023.

15 Kazan-Allen, L. São Paulo Blame Game. October 11, 2022.

16 Kazan-Allen, L. The Sinking of the São Paulo. February 6, 2023.
Kazan-Allen, L. Monetizing Their Mistakes: Paying for the São Paulo Debacle. April 20, 2023.

17 Kazan-Allen, L. UN Convention Defiled. May 15, 2023.

18 Kazan-Allen, L. Our Friend Mavis 1941-2023. November 24, 2023



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