The overarching goal of chemicals and waste management is to facilitate international trade of these materials while protecting human health and the environment. The main challenges associated with chemicals and waste management are hazards and potential risks; inadequate and uncertain data; equity issues; commercial costs and the need for rapid decision-making. Therefore, the core considerations underlying policy instruments in this realm include hazard and risk analysis; multi-stakeholder involvement; application of the precautionary and polluter pays principles and the provision of free access to environmental information .
The legal framework of chemical safety was promoted by the Rio Declaration. Three chapters of Agenda 21 outline action plans for the environmentally sound management of toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes as well as the associated international legal instruments and mechanisms. The 1990s witnessed the entry into force of the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and the 1998 Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. At the same time, the negotiations of the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants were underway.
The commitment of the international community towards chemicals and waste management was also reflected in a number of forums and the development of mechanisms for the promotion and exchange of information on the sound management of chemicals. Examples of these tools include the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) adopted under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission for Europe; the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) and the Inter-organization Programme for Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC).
The ELP has organized workshops to provide information about the proper management of chemicals and wastes in order to strengthen the capacity of countries to respond to the proliferation instruments and legislative measures in this issue-area.
 Huismans W., Halpaap A. (1998) and Peterson P. (2004, 2nd Revised Edition), International Environmental Law: Hazardous Materials and Waste, UNITAR, Geneva, Switzerland