Practice and Prospects with the UNECE Agreements
Chapter 5: The Industrial Accidents Convention and Civil Liability Protocol
The Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents (Industrial Accidents Convention) was signed by 27 UNECE member countries, as well as the EU, and entered into force in 2000. Both Canada and the USA signed the Convention but have yet to ratify it. There are currently 41 Parties, although Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are the only Parties located in the Asian region. Unlike the Public Participation Convention (Chapter 3) and EIA Convention (Chapter 4), the Industrial Accidents Convention is not currently open to membership by non-UNECE member states, nor is there potential for this in the immediate future. The issue dealt with by the Convention is, however, particularly significant in the Asian region. The Convention was a response by the CSCE and the UNECE to concerns raised by high-profile industrial accidents over the preceding two decades: dioxin releases from a chemical manufacturing plant near Seveso (1976), into the air and River Rhine from an agrochemical warehouse fire in Basel (1986), and the Chernobyl disaster in the same year. The Convention was adopted in Helsinki in 1992, at the same time as the Water Convention. The signatories to both decided to cooperate on these interlinked issues, on the premise that major industrial accidents may have far-reaching transboundary effects and can lead to accidental water pollution. Only months before its entry into force, the need for the Convention was further highlighted by another major industrial accident: a cyanide spill from a mine tailings dam into a transboundary river at Baia Mare.
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