In the ongoing plenary of COP5 of the Stockholm Convention at Geneva, India was in for a bit of a shock on day two. India's efforts to present its statement as a joint statement of the Asia Pacific region failed miserably as a few countries wanted to delete the parts in the document referring to endosulfan.
India had circulated a document on day one during the regional meetings stating that endosulfan wasn’t a health hazard and that the sixth POPRC’s recommendation of endosulfan in Annex A was a serious procedural violation.
“Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan were not in favour of including paragraph 7 of the document, the part that says that the significant health hazards and environmental impact of endosulfan is not yet established. They want all references pertaining to endosulfan be dropped from the document,” said Mohammed Asheel, observer at the Stockholm Convention.
However India is still trying to garner some support on other fronts. It had mentioned it in its document that the decision of the COP should be based on consensus and not on voting as it set a bad precedent undermining the cooperative character of the convention. The Indian delegation is now trying to present it as the issue of sovereignty of developing countries and urging other countries to resist voting. In case of a consensus, India can resist the ban alone, something which might not be possible in case of a voting.
Endosulfan has been banned or is in the process of a phase out in nearly 81 countries. The Stockholm Convention is meeting to arrive at a consensus, amongst other things, to include endosulfan in Annex A of the convention as was recommended by the sixth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutant Registration Committee in October last year. Listing of a chemical in Annex A would mean that the pesticide should be completely eliminated.
On the other hand, Kerala chief minister VS Achuthananadan’s day long fast demanding a national ban on endosulfan has not gone unnoticed in the diplomatic circles at the Stockholm Convention. “Diplomats from other countries said that they hoped this fast would have an impact on the stand that India has been taking and that it would co operate instead of opposing the ban,” wrote C Jayakumar of Thanal, a non profit in Kerala, in an e-mail. Jayakumar is at Geneva as an observer of the Stockholm Convention.
The ongoing five day COP5 meet of the Stockholm Convention concludes on April 30.