TW3: Developing and Strengthening National Legislation and Policies for the Sound Management of Chemicals

The thematic workshop on Developing & Strengthening National Legislation and Policies for the Sound Management of Chemicals was the third in a Series of Thematic Workshops on Priority Topics of National Chemicals Management Capacity Building and took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 22-25 June 1999. It was organised by UNITAR in cooperation with the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) as well as several international organisations, including FAO, ILO, OECD, UNEP, UNIDO, WHO, and the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The event brought together some 100 representatives from developing countries, countries with economies in transitions, small island developing states, countries with advanced chemicals legislation, international organisations, and non-governmental organisations, including industry, public interest groups, and labour unions.

The objectives of the thematic workshop were to: identify and systematically document the problems countries are facing in developing, implementing, and enforcing chemicals legislation and policies; identify strategies, steps and/or "best practices" countries may want to consider when endeavouring to strengthen their national chemicals legislation, including regulatory and administrative aspects, with an emphasis on practical, flexible solutions; promote the development of national chemical safety legislation/regulations which when implemented, are consistent with, and/or are complementary to, recognised international agreements and technical standards; identify the needs of countries for external assistance and/or for additional guidance material; determine practical ways in which international organisations and others interested in providing external support could best assist countries in their efforts; and catalyse further action at all levels.

The workshop concluded that many countries have enacted legislation for the management of chemicals, but that unacceptable risks to health, safety, and environmental quality continue primarily because the underlying laws and regulations are often fragmented across sectoral boundaries with no unifying policy mechanisms, and because of a shortage of resources for their effective enforcement. Governments should therefore review their chemicals legislation, including regulations and regulatory structures, to ensure that they efficiently and effectively promote the sound management of chemicals in a manner which is consistent with the guiding principles given in Section 5 of the report.

Workshop Report. Download