D. Improvement of health through sound management of obsolete pesticides and other obsolete chemicals (resolution WHA63.26)

All progress reports are included in Doc A64/26.

This report is a follow up of resolution WHA63.26

Background document: Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management A63/21

WHA Watch Comment

The Assembly is invited to consider the Progress Report (WHA13.17D, page 7) on the Improvement of health through sound management of obsolete pesticides and other obsolete chemicals (Resolution WHA63.26, page 55).  This resolution and its progress report deal with a highly specific issue; namely the management of obsolete chemicals.  However, this should not be considered in isolation from the broader issues of chemicals safety which are described in the much more comprehensive document A63/10 (Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management). 

The Strategic Approach is an important resource and its implementation should be pursued vigorously.  However, there are some issues which are not adequately addressed in A63/10 which must be followed up.

It is important to have national and international regulation regarding the introduction of chemicals into the human environment.  However, these regulatory structures do not address the commercial motivations which drive the conditions for wider use of chemicals. These include the seed companies which use increasingly restrictive intellectual property laws to trap and lock farmers into pesticide dependence.

Regulations need policing and nowhere more so than in the illegal dumping of waste in Third World countries. The protection of Union Carbide managers after the Bhopal tragedy speaks to the role of money and corruption in driving the chemicals juggernaut and avoiding corporate accountability.

These are issues where technical assessment and bureaucratic regulation must engage with democratic politics and popular struggle. WHO's engagement in these areas must prioritise the education of occupational health practitioners and primary health care practitioners.  In view of the influence of corporate interests on governments it is essential that community organisations and environmental and health activists are supported with high quality and easily accessible technical and regulatory information. Environmental and health activism is critical in stiffening the political will to take effective action on these issues.