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The Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import Into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes Within Africa

The objective of the Bamako Convention is to prevent the import of hazardous wastes including radioactive wastes into African nations that are party to the Convention. It also prohibits ocean disposal of all types and obliges African country Parties to minimize their own intra-African waste trade and only conduct it with prior informed consent. Parties must also engage in environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous wastes generated within these African nations while auditing and minimizing generation of hazardous wastes.

The Bamako Convention provides strong legal prohibitions on hazardous waste import and dumping by declaring such activity an illegal and criminal act. The prohibition also applies to products which have been banned, cancelled or withdrawn from registration for environmental or health reasons. The Convention also prohibits hazardous waste incineration at sea or their disposal in the seabed and sub-seabed. Other features include the adoption of the precautionary principle in relation to waste generation and promotion of cleaner production. Transboundary transfer of polluting technologies is also prohibited under the Convention.

The Convention was negotiated by twelve nations of the Organization of African Unity at Bamako, Mali in January, 1991. The Convention entered into force on April 22, 1998 and has been ratified by 23 countries.

What is the Purpose of the Convention?

The purpose of the Convention is to:

  • prohibit the import of all hazardous and radioactive wastes into the African continent for any reason;
  • minimize and control transboundary movements of hazardous wastes within the African continent.
  • prohibit all ocean and inland water dumping or incineration of hazardous wastes.
  • ensure that disposal of wastes is conducted in an environmentally sound manner “
  • promote cleaner production over the pursuit of a permissible emissions approach based on assimilative capacity assumptions
    establish the precautionary principle

What Substances or Chemicals Are Covered by the Convention?

The Convention covers more wastes than covered by the Basel Convention as it not only includes radioactive wastes but also considers any waste with a listed hazardous characteristic or a listed constituent as a hazardous waste. The Convention also covers national definitions of hazardous waste.. . Finally, products that are banned, severely restricted or have been the subject of prohibitions are also covered under the Convention as wastes.

What are the General Obligations on Countries?

Countries should ban the import of hazardous and radioactive wastes as well as all forms of ocean disposal. For intra-African waste trade, parties must minimize the transboundary movement of wastes and only conduct it with consent of the importing and transit states among other controls. They should minimise the production of hazardous wastes and cooperate to ensure that wastes are treated and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

What are the Economic and Social Benefits of the Convention?

There are many reasons why the Bamako Convention is important for the region:

  • It provides an effective protective mechanism to stop waste traders from making Africa an international waste dump.
  • It will prevent Africa from becoming a dump for ‘products’ that have been banned or deregistered in developed countries.
  • It will prevent dumping of hazardous waste at sea or on (or below) the seabed
  • It ensures that trade in waste within Africa is controlled and thus prevent more industrialized states in Africa from victimizing other African states and likewise prevents hazardous waste generators from avoiding liability for pollution.

In this way, cost externalizations of pollution and hazardous waste will be prevented and more economicallyefficient waste prevention mechanisms will be encouraged upstream. The social and economic impacts of such cost externalization can be devastating without such controls.

What are the Costs Associated with the Convention?

As there has yet to be a first meeting of the Parties, it has not been established what sort of funds will be created and how they will be supplied, Presumably there will be costs for each Party to among other things fund a Secretariat and meetings.

What Personnel will be Required to Administer the Convention?

The Convention requires that a Competent Authority and a Focal Point be identified in each country. In addition a National body should be formed to act as Dumpwatch and liaise with government and NGO groups. Additional staff time will be necessary in the customs and environmental departments of national governments. Finally a secretariat will need to be staffed.

Will National Legislation be Required?

Yes. This legislation would be similar in format to legislation required to administer the Basel Convention. The Basel Convention Secretariat has produced model Bamako/Basel legislation.

Are There Reporting Requirements?

The Convention describes various forms of information that should be transmitted between countries and to the Secretariat. These include:

  • Export notifications;
  • Written consent or disapproval for import applications;
  • Movement documentation;
  • Accident Notification;
  • Information on the sound management of wastes; and
  • Information on national bans and national definitions
  • Will There be Help in Administering the Convention?

To be determined.

What is the Status of the Convention?

The Convention has entered into force and has not yet held its first Conference of Parties.

Are There Other Agreements Associated with the Convention?

The Bamako Convention is very similar to the Basel Convention. Indeed the Bamako Convention can be considered an Article 11 Agreement of the Basel Convention. The major difference lies in the fact that Bamako is administered within Africa by the African Union.

The ocean dumping provisions of the Bamako Convention are similar to the agreements found in the London Protocol of the International Maritime Organization. The Bamako waste trade prohibition is similar and consistent with the Basel Ban Amendment (1995).
All of these instruments are important and complement each other.

Download the Bamako Text Of Convention PDF

The Bamako Convention on the ban of the import to Africa and the control of transboundary movement and management of hazardous wastes within Africa.

The Parties to this Convention:

  1. Mindful of the growing threat to health and the environment posed by the increased generation and the complexity of hazardous wastes,
  2. Further mindful that the most effective way of protecting human health and the environment from the dangers posed by such wastes is the reduction of their generation to a minimum in terms of quantity and/or hazard potential.
  3. Aware of the risk of damage to human health and the environment caused by transboundary movements of hazardous wastes,
  4. Reiterating that States should ensure that the generator should carry out his responsibilities with regard to the transport and disposal of hazardous wastes in a manner that is consistent with the protection of human health and environment, whatever the place of disposal,
  5. Recalling relevant Chapters of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on environmental protection, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Chapter IX of the Lagos Plan of Action and other Recommendations adopted by the Organization of African Unity on the environment,
  6. Further recognizing the sovereignty of States to ban the importation into, and the transit through, their territory, of hazardous wastes and substances for human health and environmental reasons,
  7. Recognizing also the increasing mobilization in Africa for the prohibition of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal in African countries,
  8. Convinced that hazardous wastes should, as far as is compatible with environmentally sound and efficient management, be disposed in the State where they were generated,
  9. Convinced that the effective control and minimization of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes will act as an incentive, in Africa and elsewhere, for the reduction of the volume of the generation of such wastes,
  10. Noting that a number of international and regional agreements deal with the problem of the protection and preservation of the environment with regard to the transit of dangerous goods,
  11. Taking into account the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972), the Cairo Guidelines and Principles for the Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous Wastes adopted by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) by Decision 14/30 of 17 June, 1987, the Recommendations of the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (formulated in 1957 and updated biennially), the Charter of Human Rights, relevant recommendations, declarations, instruments and regulations adopted within the United Nations System, the relevant articles of the 1989 Brussels Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal which allow for the establishment of regional agreements which may be equal to or stronger than its own provisions, Article 39 of the Lome IV Convention relating to the international movement of hazardous wastes and radioactive wastes, African intergovernmental organizations and the work and studies done within other international and regional organizations,
  12. Mindful of the spirit, principles, aims and functions of the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources adopted by the African Heads of State and Government in Algiers (1968) and the World Charter for Nature adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations at its Thirty-seventh Session (1982) as the rule of ethics in respect of the protection of the human environment and the conservation of natural resources,
  13. Concerned by the problem of transboundary traffic in hazardous wastes,
  14. Recognizing the need to promote the development of clean production methods, including clean technologies, for the sound management of hazardous wastes produced in Africa, in particular, to avoid, minimize and eliminate the generation of such wastes,
  15. Recognizing also that where necessary hazardous wastes should be transported in accordance with relevant international conventions and recommendations,
  16. Determined to protect, by strict control, the human health of the African population and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from the generation of hazardous wastes,
  17. Affirming a commitment also to responsibly address the problem of hazardous wastes originating within the Continent of Africa,

Waste Steams:

  • All wastes containing or contaminated by radionuclides - the concentration or properties of which result from human activity
  • Clinical wastes from medical care in hospitals - medical centers and clinics
  • Wastes from the production and preparation of pharmaceutical products
  • Waste pharmaceuticals - drugs and medicines
  • Wastes from the production - formulation and use of biocides and phytopharmaceuticals
  • Wastes from the manufacture - formulation and use of wood preserving chemicals
  • Wastes from the production - formulation and use of organic solvents
  • Wastes from heat treatment and tempering operations containing cyanides
  • Waste mineral oils unfit for their originally intended use
  • Waste oils/water - hydrocarbons/water mixtures - emulsions
  • Waste substances and articles containing or contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and/or polychlorinated terphenyls (PCTs) and/or polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs)
  • Waste tarry residues arising from refining - distillation andany pyrolytic treatment
  • Wastes from production - formulation and use of inks /dyes/pigments/paints/lacquers/varnish
  • Wastes from production - formulation and use latex/plasticizers/glues/adhesives
  • Waste chemical substances arising from research and development or teaching activities which are not identified and/or are new and whose effects on man and/or the environment are not known
  • Wastes of an explosive nature not subject to other legislation
  • Wastes from production - formulation and use of photographic chemicals and processing materials
  • Wastes resulting from surface treatment of metals and plastics residues arising from industrial waste disposal operations
  • Wastes collected from households - including sewage and sewage sludges
  • Residues arising from the incineration of household wastes

Waste having as constituents:

  • Metal carbonyls
  • Beryllium; beryllium compounds
  • Hexavalent chromium compounds
  • Copper compounds
  • Zinc compounds
  • Arsenic; arsenic compounds
  • Selenium; selenium compounds
  • Cadmium; cadmium compounds
  • Antimony; antimony compounds
  • Tellurium; tellurium compounds
  • Mercury; mercury compounds
  • Thallium; thallium compounds
  • Lead; lead compounds
  • Inorganic fluorine compounds excluding calcium fluoride
  • Inorganic cyanides
  • Acidic solutions or acids in solid form
  • Basic solutions or bases in solid form
  • Asbestos (dust and fibres)
  • Organic phosphorous compounds
  • Organic cyanides
  • Phenols; phenol compounds including chlorophenols
  • Ethers
  • Halogenated organic solvents
  • Organic solvents excluding halogenated solvents
  • Any congener of polychlorinated dibenzo-furan
  • Any congener of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin